Khujo Goodie is a survivor. 25 years after the release of his group Goodie Mob’s classic album Soul Food, he’s survived tragedy, industry turmoil, and many of the other pratfalls life has to offer. He’s also reached incredible highs in his life and career. Through it all, he’s remained grounded & stayed true to his core values.
When speaking with him I was struck by how approachable he was. He makes a genuine effort to relate to you, and he offers introspective and thought-provoking answers. He just seems like an all-around good person. It’s easy to see why so many of his peers speak so highly of him.
Over the course of our conversation, we discussed the infamous 1995 Source Awards, his being considered a legend, when he knew that Andre 3000 was an all-time great, the evolution of Killer Mike, Tupac being a fan of Goodie Mob and potentially joining the Dungeon Family, his still burgeoning career and a whole lot more.
Was there a point when you were making Soul Food that you realized it was going to be a classic?
Not me personally, in my opinion, no. I had no idea it was going to be a classic. Me, Gipp, T-Mo, & Cee-Lo were just really focused on representing Atl. Atlanta, Georgia. The standard had already been set by groups like UGK, 8Ball & MJG, Three 6 Mafia, Ghetto Mafia, A-Town Hard Heads, that standard was set. We were just going hard. We had learned what Hip-Hop was about from them and then we had the means to do it going in with Organized Noise. We were just focused on making some of the best music, not even knowing it would be something like this 25 years later.
Ghetto Mafia! A lot of people don’t know about Ghetto Mafia.
Ghetto Mafia most definitely, Nino and Wic (Wicked,) they were making noise in Decatur. Atlanta and Decatur are two different counties, so it wasn’t anyone really making noise in Atlanta yet. Except for Kilo Ali, he was making some noise on the radio. Nobody had really broken that glass ceiling yet. Not until LaFace set up shop in Atlanta and two groups like Outkast and Goodie Mob were able to put that southernplayalistic realistic music on deck.
What were your interactions with Babyface like? Did he contribute musically?
As far as contributing to our albums, he didn’t really contribute by performing. But just hearing his music, hearing how he sings. We saw Babyface just get so high up there and just be a songwriter. Then you have L.A. Reid coming from a musical background, being able to play the drums. So they did kind of contribute as far as being musicians and vocalists who could tell we could do more than just put words together. We could compose songs. Coming from their era they could feel what we were doing. How would it look if you were going into a job and your boss didn’t know anything about what you were doing? They weren’t there just to collect a check. Babyface and L.A. Reid knew the business, knew the music and just allowed us to do what we wanted to do.
What did Babyface say when you played him the music Goodie Mob was making?
Oh man, when we played L.A. Reid the music he let Babyface know that there were some guys down in East Point that got it. Come on, when you got a guy like Sleepy Brown singing, and we’re writing, singing, got flows and can hold a note?
Y’all had that melody.
Melody, there you go, that’s the word. That’s exactly the word I was looking for. I believe L.A. Reid & Babyface saw we had that melody and that we could work with it.
One thing I took from your early music was that Atlanta could be really racist, has that improved?
It has improved as far as with the music and the youth. When we dropped our music in the ’90s and went out and did shows it wasn’t just black people there. There were people from all different races. At that particular point and time, the music occupied them and there weren’t even thoughts of being racist. But we were down here in the deep south. I’m going to tell you something even harder, especially about the music. We were being discriminated against by our own people. It wasn’t white folk that was discriminating against us and our music, it was our own people. Just like in the famous clip where Andre 3000 says “The South got something to say.” We go up to New York for The Source Awards and Outkast was receiving the award for the most outstanding duo and we get booed by our own people.
What went through your mind when he gave his acceptance speech and said that?
We were on the stage, the broadcast cut me and Cee-Lo out, but you could see Gipp behind Dre. We were hype, we didn’t care. We would of took on anyone who didn’t like it that day. That’s just how passionate we were about our music. When Dre said the south had something to say, at that time we all felt like we were being profiled. We were being profiled as rappers from the south who don’t have anything to say, don’t know how to read, don’t know how to put words together to make a song. We were sick of that. New York wouldn’t play our music because we were from the south and we felt the discrimination from our own people first with the music.
As far as racism down here in Atlanta, white folk just wanted you to stay on your side of the road & they stay on their side.
Did you hear Suge going at Puff during the 95 Source Awards?
Oh man, did we. We couldn’t believe it. We were just starting out and we patterned ourselves out as being hard, Atl hard. When we heard that guy say that we said whoa, what side of the game is this? Later on, that day backstage was when we first met Tupac. We met Suge and Tupac, that’s where that picture you might have seen floating around the internet with Tupac, Suge, and the Goodie Mob.
Tupac was a big fan of yours, right?
Man, he liked Goodie Mob so much that he was talking about joining the Dungeon Family. Before he was assassinated he definitely wanted to link up with us and make some music. We went with him to the studio the night of the Source Awards and he recorded “The Good Life” and played “Hit ‘Em Up” for us before it came out. T-Mo and Tupac’s sister were real good friends. That’s why on “The Good Life” you hear him say Goodie Mob in this bitch. He showed love, he told his people to get us whatever we want. He told us whatever we want. That night we witnessed a legend put in work.
Speaking of legends I know Pimp C did a lot of stuff with the Dungeon Family. What was your relationship with him like? Did you ever work with him?
Pimp was my friend. I never got a chance to record with him. Gipp and Pimp C were really tight from when Pimp moved down here. He moved to Mableton, Georgia, on the other side of Bankhead. He invited us to his house, I remember going there with Gipp. One time we were rolling up and I had never seen anyone break the buds down and take the leaves off of it and really just break the buds down like that. I asked him what he was doing and he said: that’s ragweed, you don’t smoke that.” I told him that he just taught me something. The last time I saw him was when we were making the video for “International Players” with Outkast. We flew out to Texas, he had just came home from prison. Back in the day, he had seen me with a whole grill, top to bottom. He had told me “man when I get one of them I ain’t going to do nothing but smile all day.” That day when I saw him at the video shoot he was damn sure doing it. I’m talking about smiling. That’s when Paul Wall was on deck with the grills. Pimp was just cheesing from ear to ear, the brother was really talented. When he got out of prison he was really laying down some work, some music with some real true stuff about who Christ was that I thought was phenomenal.
He was definitely deeper than people give him credit for. UGK was touching on a lot of the issues that Goodie Mob touched on when people really weren’t talking about that kind of stuff.
When you see things in your state and your city going on that’s wrong it’s kind of hard to ignore that. I think that’s why at times we got a bad rep for making a lot of conscious music. People would ask us don’t you guys go to the club, don’t you party? Are you guys like this all the time? Well no, but that’s what was put in our heart at that time to do.
What was Chili from TLC like in high school? Did you know she made music?
I didn’t know she made music when we were in high school. I just thought that she was a cute sister with pretty hair. I’m coming up in the hood, the ghetto, where I had never seen a sister quite like that. At the time she was just a cute sister I had a class with. I had no idea that she was a musician, let alone she would do something as big as TLC. When we started going to the Dungeon it was crazy how things started coming back to us. People and things from our past became part of Goodie Mob’s future. Atlanta is just full of homegrown talent, all through the public schools.
You’ve done a lot of solo work with Daz Dillinger, how’d you link up with him?
I need to link back up with him. I just remember that when I met him we connected off the rip and we was cool. Then I found out how much of a producer he was and how much he’d contributed to the game. I just wanted to know how he did that, how he was able to put music out independently, right now to this day. When you’re around people like that, that have that type of knowledge and wisdom you tend to learn from them. You see how things operate. I don’t got nothing but love and respect for him. He damn near produced my whole GMob Godfather album. As far as being independent he was there to show me what to do when the record labels weren’t checking for Khujo Goodie. So we became really good friends.
Is your upcoming project that’s featuring young independent artists paying that forward?
Yeah, that’s why I got the new compilation album coming called Feed the Lions. I kick myself in the ass because I should have been doing this. We did it through the Dungeon Family with Backbone, Cool Breeze, and Witch Doctor. Artists are coming up and telling me that they’ve been listening to me since they were ten and that they’re doing music now, asking me to check their music out. They want me to present their music, a lot of artists have been getting at me. So I got the idea from Spice 1. I got a song with Spice 1 from when he was putting out a compilation album, that’s what motivated me to do it. Feed the Lions Vol. 1 is coming out on November 28th. I’m going to keep on doing it if the most high is willing. Just like the hand of fellowship was passed on to Goodie Mob when we did music with Outkast. You can pre-order that right now.
What was it like when a lot of people in the music industry started moving to Atlanta?
When that happened I said that Atlanta does have a sound now and the south really does have something to say. Because when I was coming up and hearing groups like Public Enemy and NWA and all these legends that were mentioning the city that they were staying in. They talked about the streets and their side of town, the different clubs they went too. We started putting that into the music too, Atlanta landmarks in our music. Next thing you know people want to know where’s Campbellton Road, where’s Cascade? What is Bankhead, the Gun Club, where’s East Point? What is the S.W.A.T.? I think that once the music got out it started influencing people to come home, to come back to the South. Remember we were all down here in the south at some point because of the transatlantic slave trade. We were all down here together as one big family.
Right, until World War II when people migrated to take over vacant factory jobs to support the war effort. Those businesses were forced to hire black people for the first time.
Right! Exactly. Let’s keep it real, they didn’t want to pick cotton as sharecroppers so they moved to Detroit, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, etc… All those places like you said where they could work in factories. So people moving down south is just a matter of them coming back home. Come on, there’s no place like home. Every person you meet has some roots in the south somewhere. When they started migrating back, I knew that there was something in the music that was calling them back home. It wasn’t the Braves or the Falcons.
It damn sure wasn’t the Hawks.
Right, but they’re doing their thing right now. They got a good young team. They got some veterans. Just like music, the youth got to work with the elders, keep this thing in the direction it needs to be going.
Killer Mike got the barbershop in the Hawks stadium now. What did you think the first time you heard Killer Mike rap?
Man, when I heard Killer Mike rap he reminded me of a Ren & an Ice Cube mixed together. His enunciation is on point. He’s a big guy so you already don’t know what to expect from him. Just to see him come from where he came to today with the Swag Shop up there with the Hawks, that’s real improvement. I have nothing but love for my brother Killer Mike.
How did it make you feel when Bun B said “Cause can’t nothing keep a trill nigga down, ask Khujo Goodie” on a Killer Mike song?
That’s something that you asked me that. I just reached out to Bun and we’re going to put a song together around that. It was the ultimate respect for me when he did that. It was the utmost respect. He’s that type of person. Look how he stood up for his homeboy when Pimp was locked up, he stayed strong. I got to salute him.
Who do you think is the most underrated in the Dungeon Family? I always felt Witch Doctor didn’t get his just due.
Doc is a force to be reckoned with. Before Doc was on CD’s and wax and cassettes when emcees had notebooks with written raps he just blew me away. He’s underrated, I can go with that. Then again I could go with Backbone. I could go with Big Rube. Rube is a lyricist too, people don’t know. He does poetry, spoken word but when I first heard that brother rap in the Dungeon, I was like this got to be one of the most gangsterist motherfuckers I’ve ever seen.
The whole Dungeon Family had an unusual strong structure compared to a lot of your peers, was the unconventional song structure organic or intentional?
We were making 32 bar verses. This shit is deep, it ain’t over at 16 bars. Organized Noise wasn’t going to cut us off, especially since they were the same age as us. How were they going to tell us that we couldn’t rap that shit or that we were rapping to long? They had to format the music for the verse, not the other way around. We had a lot to say and being from the south. We had been held down for so long.
I always liked the Big Rube interludes, what’s he like in real life. Is he all deep and serious?
Big Rube got to be one of the most real and funniest guys that you would ever meet. He might say something that you would think is funny, but he’d be dead serious about it. Then he’ll fuck around and laugh too. He just got that signature laugh man. Especially when you go and look at the “Player’s Ball” video when it first comes on. You see him and Rico Wade sitting with Outkast at the table eating some cereal, you see him and Rico just dap it down. That’s really the way it was back in the day with the Dungeon Family in the nineties. Matter of fact Rube was the one that drew the logo for Goodie Mob. The black fists in the handcuffs, with the man hanging from the M. I just happened to be at the Dungeon one night, we were all sleeping on the floor. We used to spend the night there in sleeping bags. It was either a dream or a vision that I had. I told Rube about it and he drew it and then we had a logo for the Goodie Mob. He saw it. He’s always been ambidextrous, he can use the left and right side of his brain. He’s always been a pillar of the Dungeon. If I’m not mistaken he bought the first drum machine for Organized Noise.
At what point did you realize that Andre 3000 was one of the best rappers ever?
I always knew he was nice. I don’t want to take anything away from him, but I didn’t realize he was one of the best to ever do it until around the point that everybody started realizing it. We all just felt like we were a brick in the wall trying to stand up for southern hip-hop. I knew he was a great emcee. Big Boi is also a force to be reckoned with. He had an awesome partner with him, pushing him to that next level. It’s all about steel sharpening steel.
What was it like making the movie Mystery Men?
I had never been on a movie set before. It looked like a little city inside of an airplane hangar. It was a whole different world. In one of the scenes, where it looks like the superheroes are about to approach a house or the castle, it was shot in an airplane hangar. But it would look like it was outside. They fed a nigga good when we were on set, they would feed us good. I couldn’t believe how good. I’m talking about salmon, steak. It was a real experience. Pee-wee Herman was in it, Jody Watley, Ben Stiller. All these people went on to have big careers. That shit was hard, to this day that thing coming on.
Goodie Mob were some of the first rappers I heard talking about conspiracy theories. Which ones do you think are true?
I definitely think that the Illuminati is real. I think the New World Order is real. One world religion, one world government. We’re witnessing that right now. Look at how the pope is trying to bring all the religions together. Look at how the pope and the Grand Imam is all buddy-buddy. Yet they have a bloody history. In Islam, a Christian was considered an infidel. So it’s not even a theory, it’s real. The Illuminati started with Masons who set up shop in America to start the transatlantic slave trade. When we were making our music the most high was speaking through us so people could hear the truth. Now we don’t hear music like that, all that shit has been suppressed by the powers that be. The people that run the radio, control the media they knew who Goodie Mob was, they knew who Public Enemy was. They knew all the groups that dared to put something in their rhymes other than destroying their people.
Do you think that labels and media outlets conspire to suppress content that would cause people to question their situation and environment?
I know so. I’ll give you a good example. A lot of people got mad at Christ because he was healing people. That was messing up people’s money. He was casting unclean spirits into swine, people didn’t like that because they were selling pork. They killed him for that. They killed conscious music. They felt groups like us and Public Enemy were throwing salt in the game. They can’t have that type of music in this medium, not when hip-hop was getting such a large platform. They want us to do that underground somewhere. They want to keep our minds occupied with sex, with being drug dealers. They want sisters in the strip clubs. They have to make money. You really can’t make money telling people to do the right thing.
True indeed, if you got prisons for profit you got to keep them filled right?
They got to, that’s real. The pipeline, from the high schools to the prisons, from the playgrounds to the penitentiaries. We were one of the groups from the nineties that made it past that pipeline and we were trying to tell our people something. The powers that be heard what was going on in our music, even if they didn’t understand it there would be some Uncle Tom ass emcee to explain what we were talking about. Some of the things that they bleeped out in our music didn’t make sense. Like on “Cell Therapy” when T-Mo said, “How the new world plan reach the planet without the black man” they felt they had to bleep that out. Tell me why would that be?
Do you think that contributes to the N-word becoming more socially acceptable for white kids to drop conversationally?
That’s a good question. Should we be mad? We say it in the music so much. It’s used in our music so much. You don’t hear people saying cracker or honkie. You rarely hear it, even in country music. You don’t hear the N-word in any other music besides hip-hop. The white kids are hearing it and repeating it. I can’t get mad at a white kid for saying nigga when I’m saying nigga in damn near ever rap. Cee-Lo was saying that a long time ago, the “nigga conspiracy” on Still Standing. At the end of the day, it’s just words, we’re just calling each other names. I’ve been called worse.
What do you think about being called a legend?
It’s just the most convenient word that people use to pay the ultimate respect for the feelings we gave them through our music. I don’t let that go to my head. I’m just happy to be in the conversation. That’s just what comes with being one of the pillars of our genre that put Atlanta, Georgia on the map. I welcome it all. I even got to write a book, check that out.