The irony of Saturday’s One Music Fest tagline, “Unity Through Music,” may not have been immediately appreciable, but it was very real. With headliners Snoop Dogg, who resurrected Tha Dogg Pound for almost the whole of his performance, and the recently reunited Goodie Mob as headliners, it was clear that the unity onstage had been brought about by anything but music.
Music, in fact, had been what divided the men for most of their adult lives – music, and maybe some maturity issues. While Snoop’s set seemed to be a celebration of those lost years, Atlanta’s M-O-B still seemed mired in the same silly beefs that fractured the legendary Southern rap foursome in the first place.
Goodie Mob’s long hiatus, as the story goes, happened because Cee-Lo left the group over artistic differences surrounding the approach to the group’s most anticipated release, 1999’s “World Party.” He was thought to be the group’s seminal superstar long before he released the song known to radio audiences as “Forget You,” or became a judge on the most popular of the big four networks’ attempt at an “American Idol” regurgitation,
Big Gipp, Goodie’s titular head, had rallied the group around what was dubbed a more “bling bling-y” approach that Cee-Lo was not onboard with, and when the album failed to meet expectations, commercial or artistic, Cee-Lo left.
This year the group kissed and made up, released “Age Against the Machine” in August and embarked on a summer tour that has been M.I.A. in most cities. The group has missed eight of 10 announced tour dates, appearing only at the tour’s opening stop in Los Angeles and Saturday in Atlanta.
At the festival, it was the music that again divided them. After a few initial songs, Cee-Lo dismissed the rest of the group, asking the crowd, “Do y’all wanna rock with me?” and performed a few of his solo hits including “I’ll Be Around” and “Bright Lights Bigger City.”
The set was a schizophrenic split between an appreciation for what the group had been, a regionally-beloved music mainstay, and what it seemed to always wish it had been, an international super group. The first half often left the crowd confused and impatient with homages to the group’s solo efforts, including Cee-Lo’s solo set, a pair of songs by singer V, who Lo called “the newest member of the Mob” and Gipp performing his lone charting single, “Steppin Out.” There was a legitimate fear that T-Mo and Khujo were going to be given 10 minutes to do a few tracks from “Livin’ Life as Lumberjacks.”
But the crowd wanted to see the Mob in full and responded as such when they the group returned. The biggest cheers of the night came for “Cell Therapy” and “They Don’t Dance No Mo’,” from the “Soul Food” and “Still Standing” albums, respectively.
The group ended its set by teasing the aforementioned “Forget You” to a (perhaps) expectedly sour response from fans. “Psych!” Cee-Lo yelled as Outkast’s “B.O.B.” boomed through the speakers, much to the crowd’s delight, before bringing out Erykah Badu, who had surprised the audience earlier in the day with a set of her own, to perform Outkast’s “Liberation.” It was a nod to the Dungeon Family fans who had been listening since 1995, and there were quite a few.
Snoop, on the other hand, seemed to relish the history he’s made during his 20-plus year career. The former Death Row, DoggHouse and No Limit Records artist went through a history of his hits, with nods to every stop along the way. He was flanked by former group mates Daz and Kurupt, who hadn’t even been announced on the bill, for most of the show and allowed every member of the crew to take the spotlight. The 41-year-old rapper even gave a shout out to “everybody over 40” in the crowd as he introduced his 1992 anthem “Nuthin But a G Thang.”
His turn as Snoop Lion, including his most recent album of reggae and R&B-infused songs, was ignored entirely in favor of a set list that highlighted the history of the Dogg and Tha Dogg Pound.
Neither Tha Dogg Pound nor Goodie Mob were reunited by music, so much as they were reunited by age. Age has a way of making petty musical differences, or quibbles about royalties, women or gossip, seem a lot less important. It also has a way of making a guaranteed check for a reunion tour a lot harder to turn down.