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Goodie Mob get rich

By Alex Pappademas

JANUARY 24, 2000:  Making money by making music to make money to. That's Goodie Mob's new single "Get Rich to This," a chip-stacking soundtrack arranged for bass thump, shuffling-back-to-the-dugout-after-a-homer drum program, and shark-attack French-horn stabs that streamline melody into a swinging series of bumper-car shocks. The rhymes: lyrical power steering, both pushed against and tugging behind the rhythm, with Goodie's T-Mo, Khujo, Cee-Lo, and Big Gipp flowing elastic but aggressive. The hook: Juvenile-indebted epistrophe about chillin' out sideways, doin' a hundred on the highway 'cause thank God it's Friday, so "Get rich to this!" -- just a cheddar slice away from the chorus to Li'l Troy's summer-FM hit "Wanna Be a Baller" ("On the highway/Makin' money the fly way/Still lookin' for a better way, better way"). Shout-outs: yes, to Oakland's sick-wid-it ghetto statesmen E-40 and the Click. Strangely Krusty-the-Klown-ish hey-hey-heys: check. The video: gold-plated briefcases (like the one Internet-rumored to hold Ving Rhames's gangsta soul in Pulp Fiction) and rainbows of glossy pimpwear (set your color and contrast knobs to this!).

In short, it's a Southernplayalistic missile aimed at radio and BET, closer to the bald-faced "Watch for the Hook" by Cool Breeze (part of Goodie's extended Dungeon Family crew, along with Outkast and freaky chicken-sacrificing homeweirdo Witchdoctor) than anything this ordinarily steely group have released before. It's a rubber-laying left turn away from the first two Mob albums, 1995's Soul Food and 1998's steely Still Standing, which bench-pressed the weight of the South's accumulated bad karma, preaching self-reflection and ghetto survivalism in evocative rhymes about dirty cops and shorties with bad coughs wantin' to get paid off. Producers Organized Noize wove public-housing blues (Standing employed a whopping-for-hip-hop seven guitarists) into fertile, humid jeep beats, swamping CD decks with digital kudzu. "Get Rich," on the other hand, sounds like something the Hot Boys or the "unngh"-genues at No Limit would drop. And though that particular strain of Southern rap has become a license to print Cash Money for everyone from BG ("Bling Bling") to the Snoop D-O-double-G, coming from Goodie Mob, it's as improbable a move as Puff Daddy covering Public Enemy anywhere but in the shower.

World Party is also the first Goodie release to hand off a significant portion of the production duties to East Coasters like Easy Mo Bee and estranged Bad Boy conceptualist, anger-management trainee, and Madd Rapper Deric "D-Dot" Angeletti. Nothing thwarted '90s rap's creative potential like the rise of the 14-producers-playing-musical-chairs-behind-the-boards hip-hop album, which replaced beat-junkie musicianship with craven cross-promotion and robbed a lot of gifted MCs of their momentum. It's a shame to see Goodie have to go that way, but World Party's overall high quality suggests that this group couldn't stumble even with Balthazar "B-Zar" Getty doing their beats.

"Rebuilding" is the only Party track that clearly echoes Soul Food's tales of Atlanta crack slingers stocking their Olds trunks with ammo in case UN troops invade the 'hood, but the rusted-robot percussion and neck-wrecking low end of the first two albums remain constant, and the group wear some new sonic wrinkles -- Walter Murphy string charts, stereo-action bongos, the Liberace-does-Shaft piano loop on Angeletti's "Chain Swang" -- with mackapitalistic flair. In a way, World Party's a case study in the way the shuffling of beat-making chores ultimately dissolves the producer's primacy, because what really ties this disc together from track to track is human voices. Even in rap, which has broadened the definition of "vocalist" to take in all manner of bong-burnt mutterers, wheezing fat guys, and adenoidal squeakers, the Mob's sensuously shaggy voices (from Khujo's Mount Pinatubo rumble to Cee-Lo's yowling-pit-bull attack) are rulebook burners: their Suthin' twangs fatten every vowel into a blue-ribbon gourd, and they spit fervent gospel fire that would bum-rush Kirk Franklin off a Georgia Dome pulpit.

World Party never lives up to the prayerful hustle of Still Standing's "Black Ice," a string of haunted verses that inscribed itself on your memory like flashbulbs popping, or even Mista's Organized Noize-produced "Blackberry Molasses," a stunning and utterly slept-upon R&B nonhit from '96. The by-now-standard gay-bashing line (in this case, "The world would be a better place to live if there was less queers") makes this band live up to every John Rocker rap stereotype their considerable gifts otherwise plow through, and the Lionel Richie-sampling title track's a dud. But as a you-are-there evocation of pushing Sedan de Villes to the local Waffle House, this music knows no peer.

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