Reunited, and it sounds so good.
At least that’s what fans of the Atlanta-based rap collective Goodie Mob are expecting when the group takes the Dollar Bank Main Stage at the Three Rivers Arts Festival Saturday night at 7:30.
Its 1995 album “Soul Food” is cited as one of hip-hop’s most influential works.
Goodie Mob will have all of its founding members in place, including singer-rapper CeeLo Green, an integral part of the group’s early ’90s run of successful albums who later managed to springboard to solo stardom.
In what promises to be one of the most electrifying performances of the entire festival, Green will be joined on stage by Big Gipp, Khujo and T-Mo.
The Tribune-Review spokes with Big Gipp (Cameron Gipp) and Khujo (Willie Edward Knighton Jr.), who has added to the Goodie Mob legacy by recently releasing two new EPs, “K-Files” volumes one and two. They expressed excitement about playing Pittsburgh, and Gipp discussed a personal connection to a former Pittsburgh Steeler.
It turns out that Gipp’s former father-in-law was the late Steelers quarterback “Jefferson Street” Joe Gilliam, who played on Pittsburgh’s first two Super Bowl championship teams in 1974 and 1975. Gipp was married to Gilliam’s daughter Joi from 1995-2003.
Question: How do you feel about performing in Pittsburgh for the Three Rivers Arts Festival?
Big Gipp: Pittsburgh holds a very strong place in my heart. I’ve got family from Pittsburgh so I know about the spirit of Pittsburgh. I’ve done a few shows in Pittsburgh. It’s a strange town but if they love you, it’s forever. It’s just like the old Steelers. I was with Joe when he passed (in 2000). He means a lot to me. Hopefully, the town still cherishes Joe.
Q: This is being described as a Goodie Mob reunion because CeeLo Green is back performing with you guys. What does it mean to you to have all four original members back together?
Khujo: A reunion means family. We’re 26 years deep into the game. We’ve seen it all, from good to bad. What it’s all about right now is just upholding the brand. The good part about it is we don’t forget our roots. CeeLo never did forget his roots. So, if you want to call it a reunion, that’s fine. A reunion is a big thing. You come with food. You come with songs and all types of stuff. So I’m cool with that.
Gipp: This is a Goodie Mob reunion in Pittsburgh. It’s a great thing for CeeLo. He went out and did his thing, and we all went out and had our successes. (Now) it’s all about us just elevating and staying active in the game of hip-hop and rekindling our relationship in Pittsburgh.
Q: How did CeeLo’s departure impact the group dynamic?
Khujo: At the beginning we were all young. So we’d been together for a while and after our third album “World Party,” we were just ready to do another album. But some good things happened for CeeLo, and he took those opportunities by the horns. We just had to adjust, and adjusting wasn’t that easy at that time. But I’m glad it happened that way because we were able to do our own solo albums. At the time, we weren’t able to see it, (but) it happened for a reason. We gained confidence going through those tumultuous times. Everything is a step to the next level of your career.
Gipp: Like Khujo said, it was a learning experience. But for me it led to a great experience. I dropped a solo album. I was on Nelly’s “Sweatsuit” album. I went on tour with Nelly for three years. For me, it was a different trip … in front of another crowd, a scene that was different from Goodie Mob. I got to see the pop side of rap that Goodie Mob didn’t come from. So it was a learning experience being away from the group.
Q: I’ve heard people describe the relationship that people have being in a band as like a marriage. It has ups and downs, and there are things you have to work through. How would you describe that?
Gipp: It’s the truth, because everybody grows in different directions at different times. Sometimes the direction might push you in a place of distance. You have to remember that all of us never knew what the world looked like shut down until the pandemic came. You had a chance to renew yourself. But other people lost themselves. Being in a group is the same way. As years go by, some people might not like the road anymore and the hassle of being with the public anymore. There are very few groups that are going to be out there like the Rolling Stones and the classic rock acts. Everybody can’t do it. It’s very special to have a group like Goodie Mob. We love the road. But you never know. We’re in the fourth quarter of our careers. But it is like marriage. It’s a give-and-get thing.
Khujo: I say it’s like going to school. You have some people that you like and you have some folks that you don’t like. But you still have to go to school, and you’re all there for the same purpose. You still have to graduate to get to that next level. And (sometimes) you end up being best friends at the end of the quarter.
Q: How do you feel about playing on a street in downtown Pittsburgh on Saturday night?
Gipp: It’s going to be like home. You have to remember that Goodie Mob has always been in these spaces. We are the southern Public Enemy. So, this is just like coming home because we know that the people who really love OutKast, who really love what we do, are going to be there at this festival. So for us, it’s going to be a great night. We’re going to do a lot of music and we’re going to have a lot of fun. There’s nobody that can touch Goodie Mob on a live stage. It’s the greatest show on Earth when it comes to a hip-hop show. I just want to tell everybody to please come and see this show.
Paul Guggenheimer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or email@example.com.