On the 15th floor of The London hotel in Manhattan, Bernard Parks Jr. is spinning his Blackberry around on a glossy table. “Goodie Mob was a family,” he says of the group that split 10 years ago. The son of two prominent Atlanta attorneys, Parks tried to introduce Goodie Mob’s Khujo to his mother to talk about entertainment law. The rapper showed up to the meeting with a 40-ounce in his hand. “This ain’t gon’ work,” Parks said. “Y’all need some help.”
In 1995, Rico made Parks Goodie Mob’s official representative. Parks had no clue what he was getting into. “When I came on with Goodie Mob, they was trying to do a publishing deal that day,” says Parks. “I was like, Y’all are fucking crazy!”
In four years they released three albums—1995’s Soul Food, 1998’s Still Standing, and 1999’s World Party––all of them certified gold. Rico says their live show was “way better than OutKast.” At their peak, they did shows with the Fugees and the Notorious B.I.G., cashing handsome checks––and, sometimes, dropping Ecstasy.
“We were popping ecstasy before niggas know what the pill was,” says Gipp. It began while they were on tour with the Bad Boy Family in ’95. “Ex makes you feel like….” He laughs. “You’re in euphoria, shawty. Everything feels 10 times better. Ex makes the sex spectacular!”
But after the World Party tour, Cee-Lo decided to go solo. “We were on the tour bus,” he recalls. “I said, ‘I want to do a solo record next,’ and T-Mo said, ‘Me, too.’” For their manager, this artistic restlessness couldn’t have come at a worse time. Parks had publishing and recording deals on the table that were jeopardized by rumors of tension within the group. “People calling me saying, ‘Hey man, I’m hearing shit is falling apart over there.’”
Meanwhile, Goodie Mob was branching out from Organized Noize. “We hung with D-Dot [of Bad Boy],” says Gipp. “DJ Muggs [of Cypress Hill]. We even talked to Dre.” But their aspirations took a toll on Dungeon Family ties. “We were hurt,” Dee Dee says. “How they gonna come by our house every day getting beats, and then when they get a budget, you want to low-ball us?” It didn’t help that many saw Cee-Lo as the star of the group. “People would come up to me and say, ‘I like the group, but I love you!’” he says. “I’d be like, Damn! Not in front of the fellas!”
In 2002, Cee-Lo released his critically acclaimed solo debut on LaFace, Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections. But even after Cee-Lo’s departure, Parks’ job as manager didn’t get any easier. “They was wildin’,” he says. And when it seemed that things could not get any more chaotic, T-Mo got a call early in the morning of June 25, 2002.
“My phone kept ringing and ringing,” T-Mo recalls. “I looked at the phone and saw KHUJO. I answered, and it was his wife.”
Khujo’s spouse also called Dee Dee, “pregnant and crying,” Dee Dee recalls. “She said come be with her at the hospital.” Khujo had been in a car accident. After dropping off friends following a session at the Dungeon, he fell asleep behind the wheel and hit a median, leaving his right leg looking “like ground beef.”
Khujo remembers very little of the accident. “Somebody had to cut me out of the car,” he says. “I didn’t know if it was going to explode.” The leg had to be amputated. L.A. Reid covered the hospital bill, and the tragedy brought the Family together for a time. “I remember seeing Cee-Lo and [Andre 3000] in the lobby of the hospital and hugging both of them,” Dee Dee says. “Nothing else mattered at that moment.”