They Be Clubbin'

With TLC on "What It Ain't (Ghetto Enuff)."

Back when Goodie Mob began work on World Party, group member

Cee-Lo commented that the forthcoming album would be very different from what the group had done before. To add fuel to the conjecture fire, Cee-Lo talked about the fact that he was listening to a lot of Portishead, Led Zeppelin and Velvet Underground. The rapper hinted at a combination of trip-hop's layered, psychedelic funk and the gritty storytelling and soulful Dirty South hip-hop Goodie Mob was known for.

Upon listening to World Party, it should become apparent that something happened on the way to the recording studio. My guess as to what that something was can be summed up in three words: Cash Money Millionaires. In the time between Still Standing and the

release of this album, Juvenile, Lil' Wayne and company did Master P's No

Limit crew one better by performing hardcore Southern hip-hop over

all-electro beats and synths without tipping the skully to hip-hop

tradition by sampling or interpolating. Just set that Casio on auto-pilot,

pump up the bass in post-production, perform some very basic rhymes and-

booya! — there's a good tune, the hip-hop equivalent of garage rock.

So, the bad news about World Party is that it is almost a complete

departure from the group's soulful hip-hop past. Who knows why they let the

drum and synth programmers go nuts on this record, but it's something

they've never done to such an extreme before. You never heard a Goodie Mob

song in the club because message-wielding, back porch blues-influenced

songs like "Still Standing" and "They Don't Dance No Mo" weren't made for

clubs. Not so this time around. "Get Rich To This," "What It Ain't

(Ghetto Enuff)" "ICU," "Cutty Buddy" and "Fie Fie Delish" all have catchy

choruses, stuttering up tempo beats and thundering dance grooves — the kind

of stuff that would segue perfectly into the latest from the Hot Boyz or

B.G. Lyrically, only "Rebuilding," "Street Corner," and "Chain Swang"

approach the thoughtfulness Goodie Mob has displayed in the past. The remainder of the album is dominated by braggadocio, off-the-cuff silliness, and lyrics about the pursuit of females and the joys of eating at the Waffle House.

The good news — and it is very good news — is that World Party is still unmistakably a Goodie Mob album, allowing gospel singing,

quick-lipped rapping and organic instruments like bass and guitar to snake

around the gritty beats and synths from the Dirty South. Each song seems

very basic at first listen, but closer examination reveals complex rhythm

patterns and two or three different sets of beats for each song. A song

like the title track or "Get Rich To This" (RealAudio excerpt) seems infectious but pretty

brainless when first spun, but further listens reveal more layers than a

club sandwich. Same goes for "What It Ain't (Ghetto Enuff)" (RealAudio excerpt), their battle

with TLC, which melds the computerized funk of Fanmail with the

driving energy of the remainder of this album and they hyper-funk of a

decent drum-and-bass tune. Plus, T-Boz and Chili sing through that vocoder

thing that computerizes your voice, and you really can't go wrong with

that.

World Party's most impressive feat is how tight it sounds

given the litany of producers involved. Twelve knob-twiddlers (including

Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie and Dallas Austin) plus Goodie Mob and their

Organized Noise production squad shaped the sound of this album, and the

results are remarkably focused and tightly sequenced. Just under an

hour, the album doesn't wear out its welcome and manages to ride the line

between sound variety and being all over the map. The blueprint the team

came up with for this album should be saved and studied

carefully by any trying to follow in their footsteps. Without a map, it's going to be hard to follow (or improve upon) World Party'a infectious

mix of club rowdiness, psychedelic layers, rat-a-tat-tat rhymes and gospel

singing.

Look at it this way: If you're one of the lucky few who picked up

Witchdoctor's A S.W.A.T. Healing Ritual, World

Party should sound pretty familiar. The rest of you get your dancing shoes ready

and dust off those headphones, 'cause Goodie Mob's got something to help you

put them to good use.