(Left to right: Sleepy Brown, Big Boi, Big Rube, Rico Wade, Ray Murray, T-Mo Goodie, Andre 3000, Khujo Goodie, Bigg Gipp and Cee Lo Green)
Cee Lo breaking it down just like he does in “Diary Of A Decade”. It’s an awesome story and we love to hear it every time. Enjoy!
Here’s a link to the GQ ARTICLE.
(Photo from Straight From The “A”)
(Photo from Straight From The “A”)
(Photo from Straight From The “A”)
GQ Magazine interview transcript:
It’s a very punk rock story: From a basement crawl space in Southwest Atlanta, ten men, barely out of their teens, put Southern hip-hop on the map, coining the term “The Dirty South” and giving rise to one of the unlikeliest (and surely the funkiest) pop sensations of the 2000s, OutKast. Yet as things have shaken out, the most consistently culturally relevant member of The Dungeon Family hasn’t been Big Boi or even André 3000. Instead, it’s the short, round, and mercurial genius known as Cee Lo Green. In the ’90s, he was the raspy-voiced member of The Goodie Mob, a politically-charged hip-hop quartet that remains a beloved secret of hardcore rap fans everywhere. These days, you can find him shaking a tailfeather with Christina Aguilera on NBC’s hit talent show The Voice. It is to Green’s credit that throughout his many-layered career—let’s not forget Gnarls Barkley, and a solo career that spawned the hit song “Fuck You”—he has always simply been himself, allowing an audience to slowly and steadily find him. Here, we talk to Cee Lo about the early days of The Dungeon Family—and try to get some clarity about new albums by Goodie Mob and OutKast.
GQ: How did you come to be a part of the Dungeon Family?
Cee Lo: I’ve known André since the third grade. We lost each other for a few years, then reconnected in 10th grade. We were both dropouts and ended up at an alternative school together. I think he was already in a group with Big [Boi]. I forgot Big’s first rap name, I think he was going by Twan. And André’s name was Jhazz.
GQ: What about you?
Cee Lo: My first rap name was Ralo. Because my first name is Carlos. I likened myself to what Busta Rhymes was doing when he first came out. And what Onyx did when they first came out—they reminded me of me. There was a kinship, a connection to what we call “grimy.” My forte as a young man was storytelling. Slick Rick was one of my idols. I remember introducing Big and Dré to DJ Win, back when I was part of a group called G.A. Style. I produced some of the first OutKast stuff. Dre gave me a bunch of albums and I used to do pause button tapes. You know what those are?
GQ: Yeah. You use the pause button to make loops when all you have is two tape decks.
Cee Lo: Exactly. I made Dré pause button tapes. Then one day Big and Dré came by wearing LaFace Records T-shirts. They said they were about to get signed to LaFace and a production team called Organized Noize. But at the time, I was loyal to DJ Win and this group we had, G.A. Style. So anyway, one day I was at the mall, and I recognized this guy Marquez from a group called UBoys that [Dungeon Family founder] Rico Wade was involved with. Marquez was at the pay phone, and my homeboy went up to him and said, “He sing and rap.” So I sang and rapped for him. He said, “I like your singing better than your rapping.” Then he said, “I’m trying to call over to the Dungeon. They’re not answering the phone, but I’m sure it’s just because the music is up too loud.” He needed a ride over there so we took him. We went in the Dungeon and Sleepy Brown was there and Big Rube was there and Sugar Bear and Mone, of course—he was the gate-keeper back then, Moni Mone. So I sang for them and rapped for them and everybody thought it was cool. Then Rico walked in with Big and Dré. Dré got real excited like, “That’s my man Cee Lo I told you about, who do them real good story raps.” So they had been talking about me. Then the next thing you know, Khujo and T-Mo showed up. And to this day T-Mo’s parents stay a street over from my grandmother’s house, where I grew up. We are brothers. I’ve known him since I was in nursery school. And then Khujo was there; Khujo was known for being a brawler. That’s big ‘Jo. That’s triple O.G., you know what I’m saying? Then Gipp pulls up, and Gipp was jumping out a Cadillac, wearing a white lab jacket, because at the time he was attending beauty school, to do hair and all that kind of stuff [laughs].
GQ: Where’d Gipp get that Cadillac from?
Cee Lo: I don’t know where he got that ‘Lac from. But in all the original OutKast promo pictures, that ‘Lac you see is Gipp’s car. The Dungeon just felt like home. I already knew everybody there. And it wasn’t long until that’s where I lived. It’s a very hardcore story. We hardly ever showered. We wasn’t doing nothing but sitting around all day making music and smoking. I probably wouldn’t shower for a week at a time—and I’m glad I can say that now because it’s a testimony.
GQ: Set the scene for me. What’d the Dungeon look like?
Cee Lo: The front of the house was well manicured, but we always entered on the side right by the garage and the torn down basketball goal. That and Rico’s old Chevy Blazer. Back in the day, that was the truck to have. But it was broken down and parked on the side of the house. The Dungeon was just a crawl space with a bench that held a stack of blankets. Everybody would grab a blanket and sleep. Me, Big, Dré, everybody. There’d be at least twelve or thirteen of us down there.
GQ: With all you guys in the mix, how did OutKast become a formal duo, and how did Goodie Mob become a formal group?
Cee Lo: Initially, the entire crew was the Goodie Mob. Khujo and T-Mo were a group called the Goodie Mob Lumberjacks. Gipp was formally solo and I was solo. If you listen to Southernplayalistic, on “Claimin’ True” you here KP [Kawan Prather] shout out “OutKast, Goodie Mob, Big Gipp, Cee Lo…”
GQ: Oh shit, I never thought about that.
Cee Lo: And when “Git Up, Git Out” came out, I got The Source’s Rhyme of the Month, which was a very coveted thing at the time. It was basically my first try—my debut verse. It happened so quick they didn’t even have a picture of me. So suddenly there was a lot of talk about me over there, but I was new. The other guys were rightfully ahead of me. It was Rico’s idea to make Goodie Mob a compilation album. Me, Gipp, Khujo, and T-Mo. It was meant to be a springboard for us to go our own separate ways, but we ended up stumbling upon our own science, our own system. And we had a gold record as Goodie Mob.
GQ: The chemistry turned y’all into a group.
Cee Lo: Exactly.
GQ: Back in 1994, did y’all feel like you were putting the South on the map? Did y’all think about it in terms of kicking down doors?
Cee Lo: We come from so much history, so much heritage in our city, that we’re comfortable in our skin. We come from being G’s. There was something very focused about the spirit that surrounded us, that had been born in us and bestowed upon is. It felt like a mission, like civil service. More like activism than entertainment. We knew we were fighting for the civil rights of Southern hip-hop. Our attitude was strong, outspoken, articulate. We didn’t care about radio formats and such. That’s why “Git Up, Git Out” is eight minutes long.
GQ: I’m from Atlanta, and it’s hard to describe what it was like to have you guys talking about streets and neighborhoods I knew.
Cee Lo: All art stems from a place of alienation. Intimate and alone. Most people are oppressed by the opinion of others, but I was not that way. I was afraid of the repercussions of not doing what I was told to do, what I was called to do by a creator.
GQ: Let’s fast forward a bit. What is it like for you to have all these fans of Cee Lo Green who have never even heard of Goodie Mob?
Cee Lo: If people can’t see the forest from the trees—and Goodie Mob is the roots—at least they’re appreciating nature, you know what I’m saying? I had the tree from the artwork of the second Goodie Mob album tattooed on my back because the tree grows up out of the dirt. It’s a product of its environment, it grows toward the sky, it endures the four seasons, it branches out in all the different directions, it commits to the sunshine and the rain and never asks any questions. And it still gives.
GQ: Ha. That metaphor really goes far. At the GQ photo shoot, Rico Wade told me y’all are working on new albums for both OutKast and Goodie Mob. Given everything you have going on, why is it important to you to reform Goodie Mob?
Cee Lo: Because I’m a lover and a fighter. Goodie Mob is my passion, the core of me, the fight, the struggle. I’m still as much of an underdog as I ever was, and my music is still as anti-establishment as it ever was. I want to satisfy that rebel side. It’s not null and void. I’m a whole being, and I’m just coming back full circle.
GQ: So can you confirm that there’s a new Goodie Mob album in the works?
Cee Lo: Did we look like we were working together the other day?
GQ: Hell yeah you did.
Cee Lo: We’re acting bad, man. I basically consider us the new Soulsonic Force. It ain’t about doing something to pass the time. I’m talking about doing something profound. It takes time to mix that chemical quality into something compatible, for the sake of making something combustible.
GQ: At this point you might be known as much for your TV show, The Voice, as for “Crazy,” “Fuck You,” or Goodie Mob. What part of you does The Voice express?
Cee Lo: I’m a greater fan than I am a rapper. I’m a greater fan than I am a singer. I only want to rap about that beautiful black thing that is hip-hop. If it ain’t about that, I have no desire to rap. I come from a time where we didn’t say, “He can rap.” We said, “He can rhyme.” I want to get back to that, and I need Goodie Mob to do that. But I am a fan of black people, the black struggle, black music, and the extreme it can be taken to. I want to burn as a beacon of possibility. I don’t want nobody to misconstrue the commercial success I’ve had as anything other than an example of what black music is capable of. And what it’s capable of is being more than just black. I’m not black or white anymore. I’m Cee Lo Green.