A couple months ago I got to attend a listening party for the new Goodie Mob album, Age Against The Machine, at Tree Sound Studios in the suburbs of Atlanta. Also in attendance were a few handfuls of ATL's elite hip-hop journalists who like me have been around since the '90s, when The Dungeon Family ruled The South and the music was full of black magic.
Fast-forward to 2013, and Cee-Lo Green is a certified celebrity and household name, thanks to his universally popular hit "Crazy" as half of Gnarls Barkley, his equally successful single "F*ck You", and his role as a judge on the televised music competition The Voice. Cee-Lo allegedly started off as an original member of OutKast along with Andre 3000 and Big Boi, before being placed in a four-man rap outfit and being instantly recognized as a standout talent among fellow GM members Khujo, T-Mo, and Big Gipp. His hyper-conscious street sense, inimitable voice, gospelicious singing ability, and bulky, bald-headed, "Trill"-tattooed appearance made him unique to say the very least.
LaFace Records released Goodie Mob's first album, Soul Food, in 1995, and the critical response was immediately and overwhelmingly positive, along with the reception from an adoring public very curious of what these crazy sonic southerners were doing. The album sold over 500k units and was certified gold within a year, which back then was unequivocally considered a success. Next came Still Standing, which almost everyone considered to be artistically separate yet equally as good as their debut. Although the album was also certified gold, it was considered a commercial disappointment to many that expected heftier sales now that they were established and adored. Full disclosure: I'm a former employee of LaFace Records, and as someone that worked for the company before and after Still Standing was released, I recall plenty of blame and speculation as to why it didn't reach platinum (over a million sold) status, from L.A. Reid's absence during the album's rollout -- he was taking a summer course at Harvard as part of the process of being groomed to replace Clive Davis at Arista Records -- to the absence of a commercially viable crossover hit, and even a possible issue with the song "Fly Away", in which member Khujo wholeheartedly rejected homosexuality and invited gays to invite themselves elsewhere than near himself.
What came next was World Party, which one might have assumed before hearing it was a reference to global politics, since Goodie was always very vocal about the inequality, poverty, and the lack of proud and positive influences available in the slums of America. Yeah, but no. World Party was quite simply a reference to the decision from the group, or at least certain members, that it was time to abandon the more hard-core elements of their message and to take a break for the sake of good times. You know, don't worry -- be happy. Ironically, no one was with their third album, and it marked the beginning of Cee-Lo's distanced relationship with the rest of the Mob. Coincidentally, it was not long after the release of World Party that LaFace Records closed and L.A. ascended to the presidency of the record company that funded and distributed his own label's music.
Several projects followed, including two Arista album releases from Cee-Lo, Big Gipp's Mutant Mindframe, One Monkey Don't Stop No Show (essentially a Goodie-minus-Cee-Lo album), 'Lo's "Crazy"-spawning album with Danger Mouse, Khujo and T-Mo releasing an album under the moniker The Lumberjacks (Goodie's original name before the inclusion of Gipp and Cee-Lo), and Cee-Lo's most recent LP, The Lady Killer, which set him up for renewed popularity via "F*ck You" and made him legitimately and unarguably famous.
Now, here we are in the first week of the release of Age Against The Machine, a new album that clearly recognizes Cee-Lo's status but marks an assumed return to where he began, including the rest of the Mob. And the result is a somewhat-unfamiliar voyage into territory where growth is apparent, chemistry is evident but sometimes strained, and the core message still in existence albeit in a friendlier package for those unfamiliar with their revolutionary and rebellious origins.
But is it good? Read more and find out after the jump, and feel free to listen along to the streaming album at Amazon.
So... after arriving back home tonight, fresh (as hell, if the Feds watching) from the 2 Chainz Album Listening Party for B.O.A.T.S. II #METIME, I am feeling like #metime is exactly what I need, and that I missed all of the fashion boats upon which many strange persons obviously floated to attend. Sheesh. Wanna see a large slideshow of a few good looks but mostly unacceptably eclectic styles from randos and celebs? Oh yes you do. #Tru.
As Hill was just about to finish speaking to the group of 100-plus, Douglas came up to her, and demanded the microphone, even though he wasn't scheduled to speak at the event. He might have been slurring, and he was certainly talking loud enough for others to hear it. Hill said no thanks. She apparently had to make some effort to keep the mic out of his hands. Douglas was not happy, and neither were Hill and Smith. This was embarrassing.
Content Is (Cash) King.
Photo credit: The New York Times
The Boston Globe, Newsweek, and The Washington Post were all sold in early August. What exactly does this mean for people who actually care about what they read in the popular press? It means that everything's for sale, including the truth. And the truth is, that's not so bad if you're a financially struggling truth-teller (a.k.a., a journalist).
MJ's Recipes: Sexy R&B Shrimp Scampi
My own take on what it takes to make the easiest difficult-looking shellfish pasta dish at home on a stay-in dinner date with that special somebody, some moderately decent (read: TJ's) wine, and of course, Pandora's Jodeci channel. Strictly for my stay-at-home-dinner-budget '90's babies and their significant others, and dig this: it's quite delicious. Learn from that.
Get my whole recipe, including song suggestions for certain appointed times during cooking/prep, from SweetJack.com's blog. And big shout-out to Lisa Michelle Image for making this dish look better than I've ever seen it with the photos she took.
Sexy R&B Shrimp Scampi (originally posted April 26, 2013 at Blog.SweetJack.com)
Day Three of the NABJ Convention. More great networking, more amazing panels with people you usually only see on TV, read in print or online, or hear on radio, etc. And they're super-approachable, and happy to meet anybody cool enough to speak to them about the craft of being a media professional. Click below and peep the slideshow for shots of the preview party featuring Tyrese, T.D. Jakes, Michael Smith, the new Toyota Avalon, and alcoholic beverages.
Friday at the annual convention of the National Association of Black Journalists brought more wisdom, insight, and information to a estimated crowd of over 2,000 of America's best and brightest African-American writers, editors, producers, bloggers, reporters, anchors, and professionals of all sorts working in today's media environment. The undeniable highlight of the day was a session with the parents of Trayvon Martin, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin. Read more to see a quick slideshow with captions of the event.
MJ is in Orlando at the Gaylord Palms, keeping it truthy for the annual convention gathering of the National Association of Black Journalists. I'll be posting cool stuff as I collect and configure it for my use, but here's a quick slideshow for starters of the scene. Peep it, and be sure to check back tomorrow for photos of a panel with the parents of the late Trayvon Martin, and so much more.
This is where Michael B. Jordan shares his thoughts on the world with the world. Share yours back.