Livin' Life as Lumberjacks

Artist: The Goodie Mob Presents...Title: Livin' Life as LumberjacksRating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Paine

The integrity of the Goodie Mob has been in question recently. While Soul Food and arguably Still Standing remain classic material, the work since hasn't been so strong. Some critics have attributed these losses to the absence of Cee-Lo, who has found tremendous critical acclaim on his own. But perhaps the Mob just made some wrong steps and slept on the quality control. This time, Big Gipp has also dipped as Khujo and T-Mo present an album together (as The Lumberjacks), just months after the fizzling, One Monkey Don't Stop No Show. Will any faith in the Mob be restored?

One major disappointment is the way that the Goodie Mob has mimicked a popular Crunk sound onto their albums. Always, the boys hurt their image when they chased high hats and bass in lieu of their previous musical image. While "Turn Your Whip" continues in this foul tradition, the group restores some of their original quality with, "Git High." This record is pure fun, with lots of energy and fruitful lyrics despite the carefree mood. The Lumberjackz bring out some softer truth with, "Superfriends." Big Gipp rejoins his brethren here (as well as on another joint) to reflect on the changing times. This track definitely is one of the finer efforts in a post Cee-Lo group. The only place where The Lumberjacks seem any different than the T-Mo and Khujo we're used to is, "Hillbillies." Like a Kool Keith track, this really plays into the lumberjack aesthetic, and actually is successful. Ultimately though, this album seems like an unrefined mish-mash of rushed material. There is little need for Lumberjacks, without a strong Goodie Mob album as a foundation.

A perk of this album is the production. Organized Noize produced the entire album. On face value, this might seem like be a return to the low budget, high quality albums of the Dungeon Family's early days. Instead, the music on the album is ripped apart by inconsistencies and lack of theme. Some reminders to the merits of the production team are found in "Black History", which T and Khujo ruin with a hideous hook. Just as the lyrics revealed, "Superfriends" and "Git High" are the true moments of chemistry. Otherwise, the album that could have been a great throwback, lacks identity. At times, this album tries to blend in the Crunk crowd, between trying to be taken seriously for its subtleties. The lacking purpose is very audible.

In the film Life, there's a montage where the aging figures of the prison dissappear until only Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy's characters remain. Perhaps that's a suitable visual for what's happened to the once-beloved Goodie Mob. Only, Cee-Lo and Gipp may've been the stars. Livin' Life Like Lumberjacks is a harsh reminder of the deteriorating quality of music in pursuit of financial gains. The one worthwhile lesson here, is the music that might be this album's saving grace, is collaborations with old friends Big Gipp and Witchdoctor. Hip-hop is in dire need of another true, Goodie Mob album.