The Goodie MOb were thinking globally when they titled their new album World Party, but one song on this collection of thoughtful, soulful dance tunes was the result of a musical summit in a specific city, according to group member Big Gipp.
"What It Ain't (Ghetto Enuff)" is a collaboration between the Goodie MOb and some fellow natives of the hip-hop quartet's hometown of Atlanta superstar female rap trio TLC and successful producer Dallas Austin.
"For us, it was like a meet-and-greet that needed to happen for the folks who was from here," 27-year-old Big Gipp (born Cameron Gipp) said.
Recorded in one day at Austin's Atlanta studio, "What It Ain't (Ghetto Enuff)" finds the Goodie MOb and the sultry TLC engaging in a lighthearted battle of the sexes, cracking jokes about each other's appearance and street credibility. None of this sparring is new for TLC, who scored a hit early this year with "No Scrubs" (RealAudio excerpt) a male-bashing anthem that inspired "No Pigeons," a response song from rappers Sporty Thievz.
World Party, a follow-up to last year's Still Standing, was released Tuesday (Dec. 21). Like Still Standing, the new album features material that alternates between solemn and sexy, but World Party is more of an uptempo effort.
The face-off with TLC came together at the behest of Austin, who produced tracks for TLC's albums Fanmail(1999) and CrazySexyCool (1994). Austin, who counts members of the Goodie MOb among his good friends, said he and the groups had discussed working together for several years.
"We finally just broke down one day and said, 'Show up in the studio,' " Austin, 27, recalled earlier this month. "When [the two groups] came to the studio, we sat around and messed with beats. I said, 'Hey, I got the idea. You tell them you're not ghetto enough and tell them you're not fly enough. Just make fun out of each other.' "
The groups apparently embraced the challenge. The dueling raps, propelled by a skittering keyboard loop and a sturdy drum groove, grow more acidic as the song progresses. It begins with a robotic voice establishing the parameters of the showdown "Now, TLC will challenge Goodie MOb to a game of ghetto laser tag. When they say what it is, you scream what it ain't."
TLC's Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins starts off by warning the members of the Goodie MOb not to even look at her. The Goodie MOb's Khujo counters by bragging he's "a big boss man who likes old classic cars and big sedans," to which Watkins and Rozanda "Chilli" Thomas retort in the chorus, "You ain't ghetto enough for me/ You ain't hot enough for me/ You ain't fly enough for me/ Because you too tight with your money."
The song continues in the same vein for several minutes, and near the end it erupts into dueling chants. Gipp, Khujo and mates T-Mo and Cee-Lo shout, "What it is." Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes joins Thomas and Watkins to respond, "What it ain't."
"It was a lot of fun [to record], and I think you can hear it in the song," Austin said.
Gipp said he was inspired by TLC and Austin's support of the Goodie MOb's music.
"It's monumental for any kid that's coming up behind us to say, 'You can get big in these streets and do music on a worldly level, but you can always come back and do something with the man that hasn't sold as many records as you,' " he said.
Members of TLC could not be reached for comment on the song Tuesday.
Other tracks on World Party were produced by the trio Organized Noize, who have collaborated with OutKast, Kurupt and others, and Deric Angelettie, known to hip-hop fans as the Madd Rapper. Those songs include the meditative "World Party," which uses the lyric "Fiesta/Forever" from Lionel Richie's "All Night Long" on its chorus; the melodic, string-driven "Rebuilding"; and "Get Rich to This," a spare, funky dance number.