Cee Lo Green, a noted rapper, singer/songwriter, producer and TV show host, is an interesting character, and he wants you to know it. Following the release of his third solo album, The Lady Killer, Cee Lo chatted a bit with us about the new album, his upcoming projects and more.
♫ Cee Lo Green – Bright Lights Bigger City
The Lady Killer, Cee Lo says, is based off a James Bond movie. “I wanted to do something that had a cinematic and soulful quality, something like a score to my own indie film. The Lady Killer represents what I want in front of me: that’s something edgy and elegant, all at the same time.” He adds, “I think I accomplished that…or I got pretty damn close.”
After nearly twenty years in the music industry, Cee Lo has had a chance to find what works best for him. He was the youngest member when hip hop group Goodie Mob burst on the scene in the early 1990s. Back then, the now 36-year-old primarily rapped. It wasn’t until he ventured out on his own with his debut solo album, Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections, that most people realized he was also a great singer. He says that it’s this variety that can be best attributed to his longevity in the industry. “I believe that your life is driven, dictated and determined by what you desire; I am what I desire so in terms of the industry I wanna be creative and innovative. I wanna be a contributing factor, not only to get in to fit in but to get in and make a difference, to be an inspiration and a hard act to follow all at the same time.”
With a huge statement like that, one has to wonder where Cee Lo finds inspiration for himself. “I’m influenced by all that’s been done and mostly by things that have not been done yet,” he admits. “I’m trying to see what I can do that’s something distinct. I’m inspired by everyone even if someone inspires me to do the exact opposite of what they’re doing. Nothing is in vain. There is validity in all.”
Perhaps more are wondering, though, about a Goodie Mob reunion since it’s been nearly ten years since the release of World Party, the last album which included all four original members (Cee Lo, Big Gipp, Khujo and T-Mo), and there’s been talk of a reunion in the works for years. When we asked Cee Lo about it, he said, “Let me answer your question like this: Gipp, say ‘what’s up?’” And with that Big Gipp jumped on the phone, followed by Khujo. Cee Lo offered an honorable mention to T-Mo representing in Atlanta, holding down the headquarters and mentioned that Khujo, Gipp and he had performed at Cornell University earlier in the week and that he definitely wanted to do another Goodie Mob album right now, now that The Lady Killer is done.
When we asked if there’s anyone he wants to work with that he hasn’t already, Cee Lo said, “I’m not trying to be harsh, but I can’t say that there’s any one person I’m sitting around twiddling my thumbs to work with, and I don’t know for a fact that anyone is doing that about me. Circumstance kinda causes these things to happen, you know same place same time, we’ve gotten stuff done just by being in the same studio. It just depends, and boils down to the music. We’ve got to have the message in common.”
After talking collaborations, we asked about covers following the release of Cee Lo’s take on King of Leon’s “Radioactive” and the inclusion of Band of Horses’ “No One’s Gonna Love You” on The Lady Killer. Cee Lo replied, “It’s funny to be asked that because I actually am doing a cover album. It’s kind of informal and inexpensive to do, something boutique that I can do in my spare time. Like the more formal projects that I’m gonna do are Goodie Mob and Gnarls Barkley, but I’m gonna find some spare time. I’m already kinda sorting through, you know there’s so many songs especially so many different types of records that I love. Again, even if it’s just a cover album I still have to make it a cohesive kind of album. Yeah, I’m gonna do a new album, and I think it’s gonna be called Under the Covers with Cee Lo Green.
♫ Cee Lo Green – It’s OK
But right now Cee Lo is focusing on The Lady Killer and has said “if things keep going the way that they are, I’m probably gonna be in a city near you some time very soon“. When we asked about the follow-up to smash lead single “Fuck You”, he replied, “We’re kinda still going through the motions and getting feedback regarding the next single. Everybody’s kinda just hearing everything.”
“Here in the States, I’m really hearing a lot, and this is my personal favorite, “Bright Lights Bigger City”. Like I really think that could work right now. It’s got that vibe to it so I’m lovin’ that one. But I know that internationally, a lot of people don’t realize my deals are in two different demographics. I’m signed to Elektra/Atlantic in the States, and I’m signed to Warner UK internationally.”
“Internationally, they wanna go “It’s OK”, and they’re more familiar with that territory than myself, so I have to trust their word and what they wanna go with. But it’s not a bad song, you know what I mean? I like it. I wrote it [laughs]. There’s a part of me that wants to jam, so “Bright Lights” is not about love, not about emotions. It’s about style. It’s about lifestyle and nightlife and people, and it’s just about being social and sociable. It’s about having fun. It’s got this kind of general, all-inclusive quality to it so I think that covers more ground.”
♫ Cee Lo Green – Fool for You (ft. Philip Bailey)
We also talked about another track that means a lot to Cee Lo. “Fool for You”, which features Earth, Wind & Fire member Philip Bailey, was produced by longtime collaborator Jack Splash, who comprised the other half of The Heart Attack with Cee Lo a couple of years ago. The track has been around for about five years now, and Jamie Foxx actually recorded it but didn’t use it for his album, Cee Lo says. “I know Jamie doesn’t mind me saying this ’cause me and Jamie are very cool,” he adds.
“Everybody still loves that song. It has that staying power. So we just decided to put it on the album. And I just love Philip Bailey so much. He’s just like my all-time favorite vocalist and his soul and sweet spirit, I just wanted to meet him, reach out to him, embrace him, just let him know that he was appreciated and if he would honor me by lending his vocals. This was just the least he could do. I was just surprised that he would lend his namesake, and I believe that we became family because of that. I love Philip Bailey, Earth, Wind & Fire and everything that they’ve accomplished. That is also the soundtrack to my life. [Quoting Earth, Wind & Fire's "I'll Write a Song for You"] And I will write a song for you, a song of love.”
Before we ended the conversation, Cee Lo wanted to say something special to all his fans:
Thank you for being my fans and my extended family. I really appreciate you, all you guys have really served as a great deal of confirmation and have given me confidence so my only concern is quality. Now my concern is just quality. ‘Is this quality?’ is the first thing on my mind. I tend to handle that because I’m not overworked because that’s all I have to worry about, “is this quality?” So thank you.
Make sure you go get Cee Lo Green’s The Lady Killer, which is in stores now. For more info, check out his official website: ceelogreen.com