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For me, the highlight of the early ’80s was my family’s annual trip down I-95 to hang out with Mickey and friends. Being completely oblivious to the outrageous hotel costs and theme-park prices, the only downside I could see was the stopover in what was a proud young New Yorker’s version of hell: relatives’ houses in the rural South. As far as I was concerned, there was nothing in the South any more enlightening than fireflies. This same sort of sweeping ignorance may now keep the more stubborn city slickers from appreciating the raw brilliance of the Goodie Mob’s sophomore album, Still Standing. Members Khujo, Gipp, Cee-lo, and T-Mo represent “filthy, nasty, dirty” southwest Atlanta with no apology. Rather than attempt to imitate and appeal to their Northern counterparts, the Mob has stuck with and improved upon a sound that is complex, unsparingly honest, and ruggedly rendered. Cee-lo sets a serious tone by pointing out the contradictory uses of the word “nigger” in the black community on “The Experience.” And though it may seem funny at first, it is hard to ignore the truth of Khujo’s sermon against littering as the intro to “Gutta Butta.” Despite the project’s extremely high production value, there will always be regional aesthetic differences that deny this group its proper respect. Too bad, because the Goodie Mob says a lot about survival that is hopeful and universally inspiring to black men in America. Whether or not you are partial to “that silky Southern drawl,” it is reassuring to know that the Goodie Mob is Still Standing on firm ground.—Neil Drumming