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Cee-Lo – Beautiful Mind PART ONE


27 April 2002 No Comment

“Footsteps In The Sand” is a parable of faith telling of a man who had a dream in which his life’s journey was represented by sand, and looking back over most of his life he saw two sets of prints – his and God’s. In the last phase of his dream, he saw the same sand with only one set of footprints. The man questioned God about why he was left alone after he had been promised that God would always be there for him. God answers him: ‘During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.’

Cee-Lo Green is a man who has walked many a mile without having to look back to know that God has carried him through phases in his life. His new album, Cee-Lo Green And His Perfect Imperfections, is an inspiring anthology acknowledging both personal growth and artistic tribulations. A self-proclaimed ‘Super Chicken’, Cee-Lo is the confident country bird that knew he could fly beyond the steps he had already taken.

Born to parents who were both Christian ministers – Cee-Lo has had spiritual influences from the day he was born. In an attempt to define moments that first compelled him to become an artist, Cee-Lo laughs as he explains his mother’s role in creating this future superstar. “My mother has a divine entrepreneurial spirit – asking me to come down and dance for company – that’s how I grew up. It’s always been natural, there was never a point of me questioning it – it was something that I was able to do – I always could dance and how I began to sing was mimicking other people, imitating rifts and different things, and then I started to listen to myself and I could mimic some things to its exactness.”

Even the most talented artists have to be discovered at some point, and Cee-Lo’s moment of discovery wasn’t necessarily glamorous. “My singing was isolated to the shower at first – and my aunt who is a singer happened to walk in and overhear me singing one day, and she realized I had actual talent and so did my mother… so anytime my mother could put me on stage doing something for her friends. She used to sell Amway products, and we went to some big Amway convention in New Orleans or something one time, and she got me to play this robot on stage. You remember those silver exercise suits that were made out of plastic? She got one of those and a cardboard box, and covered it with aluminum foil and cut the eyes out – and I was this robot and I did a little dance to Midnight Star’s ‘Freakazoid’. I’ve been performing for a long time.” Cee-Lo laughs heartily as he tells the story, and one can’t help but wonder that he may be secretly hoping that photos won’t be popping up somewhere at a random Summer Jam.

Poised and verbally collected, Cee-Lo doesn’t speak upon his own genius unless someone else initiates the conversation. He is modest in claiming his own inherent knowledge, and proceeds to give credit to no one but God. “Actually, my wisdom was bestowed upon me, it almost seemed as if overnight. It definitely is a calling and I definitely am energized, and being led and being utilized – and being a medium and a vehicle in this work of God. I consider my music divine intervention and I consider myself to be divinely human. God utilizes imperfect people all the time, because we’re all imperfect. I think it speaks when it manifests itself in that shape and form – utilizing someone as imperfect as myself. My growing up, I used to be the opposite of what I’m known as today. I consider that my life was spared, and that I was saved – that’s why I always include God and I’m very appreciative, and I try to glorify His name as much as I possibly can as somewhat of a moral obligation.”

Presented with the question of why he doesn’t include God more in his lyrics, Cee-Lo mishears the question and proceeds to answer to why he includes God at all. “What I’m trying to do is do it palatably and tastefully, and not overbearing. I don’t think that I’ve tried to preach and provoke and obligate God to anyone else – I’ve only just proclaimed stories and experiences of how He’s been prevalent in my life. That’s my God, and I do have the right to say so – but I do understand what industry we’re in, and it’s about professionalism and everything don’t have to be so personal and heavy all the time. What I try to do is aspire for balance – I try to make my positivity product and my integrity interesting and my morality marketable.”

After clarifying the initial question about why Cee-Lo might possibly shy away from talking about God too much in his music to avoid losing mainstream fans, he takes a moment to reflect. “The only thing I can give credit to is that the very inner vein of life – there is no positivity without negativity. As much as they conflict, they coincide and coexist, so someone else doing what they do gives me a job and an identity – we kinda equal each other out. It’s of the same caliber as far as quality is concerned. It sounds a bit peculiar, but there is quality negativeness. I think it’s kind of divine for someone who can make an atrocity seem so beautiful – like the poverties of the ghetto life and struggling and things of that nature – and paint a beautiful picture of pain and anguish…and sometimes it doesn’t come with a moral to the story, so I try to offer somewhat of a solution and maybe a root of why that may be. I’m somewhat of a conspiracy theorist – it won’t just be a random questioning of why we in the ghetto – I come with research.”

The Good Die Mostly Over Bullshit

Cee-Lo sighs heavily and pauses. “I hate to get political man,” he says with another sigh. He is obviously hesitant to discuss his thoughts about the tragedies of September 11th – yet once he gets started, the theories he harbors roll off his tongue prolifically. “I do believe there’s more to that story. My feelings about it, I just think that for me, it looked as if they could have just gotten off the phone with Bin Laden and been like ‘hey, if you don’t do this for me, I’m gonna set you up over here’. I mean, who has the audacity to come against the United States? Nothing like this has happened since Pearl Harbor. Who has the nutz to do that without being allowed to do so? I believe that if they wanted to wait thirty more minutes, it could have been the entire fifty thousand people that normally go to the Trade Center, and they could have really hit a nick. So maybe the five thousand that perished was a small price to pay for whatever game that they’re over there warring about right now. And it was ironic to me that – what a coincidence – they just happened to crash into the side of the Pentagon where nobody just happened not to be? That’s speculation, it’s not actual – but it does make you say hmmm don’t it? George Bush, his speech that day… he wasn’t a popular president to begin with – and America can’t have a country that hates their president. Now he’s a fuckin’ hero behind this shit. Did you see at the speech he gave – he couldn’t get one sentence out without everyone standing up clapping like ‘aaaaahhhh’,” Cee-Lo chuckles.

The discussion leads to a mention of the movie Wagging The Dog, and he states emphatically “That’s exactly what it is! Just think of how many Black people never saw that movie. I don’t think nobody’s creativity or imagination is that good where they could just come up with scripts like that randomly. They try to give us the truth all of the time, and I think that’s their way of cleaning their hands of the situation after it’s all said and done – ‘well I told you’.”

As for the after-effect of artists banding together on 9/11 compilations to raise funds for the families of the victims, Cee-Lo says that he would graciously appear on an album of that caliber “on the strength”. “Knowledge, wisdom and understanding is a blessing as much as it is a curse. Once you know better and not do better, it’s transgression. It’s right up there with slapping your momma, it’s the worst. The only hesitancy I would have, is that I don’t know if I would be doing something for a cause that don’t nobody really understand – like we’re just trying to come together over the lives that were lost, but the underlying truth about it is notorious. It’s fucked up – if I’m right – then that’s fucked up that America would go that far. But then again, I wouldn’t want to be nowhere else but in America.”

Would Cee-Lo ever go into politics himself? “I think I’m in it already,” he says firmly.

Still Standing?

Even before Goodie MOb’s 1995 debut Soul Food, Cee-Lo was making waves with the acumen delivered with his high-pitched drawl when Outkast’s 1994 single “Git Up Git Out” featured one verse from Cee-Lo and one from Big Gipp. Although Cee-Lo’s lyrics on the song fit the pace of his co-vocalists, he stood out as an amazing talent to hungry ears and was awarded ‘Rhyme of the Month’ by the Source. Rico Wade approached Cee-Lo about working with the Goodie MOb, and the pace was set for the first single “Cell Therapy”. The follow up to Soul Food was 1998’s glowing sophomore effort Still Standing, then in 1999 the quirky quartet came with the inauspicious World Party. Although all three albums went gold, fans did not quite understand the artistic differences in World Party in comparison to the first two albums – yet for the most part they remained faithful in testament of the group’s greatness. However with no new word on a fourth project, rumors of a Goodie MOb breakup have been running rampant.

Surprisingly, Cee-Lo does not seem disdainful about discussing the current relationship between himself, Khujo, Big Gipp and T-Mo. “Even if I didn’t want to do another album, we’re contractually obligated to five more albums,” he says guardedly. After a pause, he appears to relax into his statement. “It’s just that we started out as kids – on ‘Get Up Get Out’ I was seventeen years old. Since then I’ve evolved into a man, I’ve gotten married and had children, I have a household – and so do the other guys – different religious preferences… and [with] our music we tend to allow what is personal to bleed over into the product. It just means that we’re not all on the same creative page. Since we deal with a lot of issues like religion and things of that nature, I can’t be like ‘well I’m Christian’ and then somebody else be like ‘well shit, I’m this’ – it seems like a bunch of mixed emotions and overly opinionated version of a song. That’s how it started to feel, you know – it wasn’t the same.

“I felt confined because the music that I’m doing on my solo album I’ve always been able to do. For lack of a medium, I couldn’t do it. I aspired to have a solo deal not to leave, or to outdo or outshine the group – because there is no one comparable to Goodie MOb and what we contributed not only to Southern music but to music in general. I’m trying to be an addition and a continuation, because my personal interpretations of music are a great deal different. People are probably gonna be shocked to some degree of how broad my range is – I produced my album. I’m an all-around artist and visionary and conceptualist. I’m a big artist and I needed more room – more space – to be all that I am. I don’t think the guys understood that at first, because it came at a time…well, honestly, I was blessed and fortunate to do more side work than the rest of the guys. There were able to do it but they didn’t aspire to it.”

Considering the constant media attention paid to Cee-Lo, with outsiders proclaiming him to be the leader of the group, he claims he never saw an outward display of antipathy from his group mates. He does, however, realistically understand the possibilities of what might be under the surface. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they have a rageful degree of resentment sometimes. I don’t know. They’ve never voiced it to me, but it’s almost like that’s too good to be true. I don’t know how it would feel if I had to wear those shoes. But me being the type of person that I am and knowing myself, I am a leader anyway – so I’m gon’ be doing what I got to do for me. I’m into plan B’s and C’s and D’s. I think the guys… they didn’t grow up the way I did – they grew up off straight rap. My upbringing was far more diversified – and it’s not their fault and it’s not mine – but I guess in the financial sense of it, it happened at a time where I had the luxury of saying ‘I don’t want to tour, I don’t wanna do that right now, and I don’t really feel World Party – it doesn’t represent me and it doesn’t stand for anything I want to be remembered by’. That’s when our problems started to arise. But still, it was a financial obligation for everyone else to tour. Goodie MOb is everyone else’s main thing, and I didn’t ever want to depend on it like that – I wanted it to be fun.”

Cee-Lo pauses, then says in a tiresome tone, “Touring and touring and touring. I’m an artist – so my nature is that of color. I have a hard time toning that color down into the black and white of a regimen and having to do something over and over and over again. I’m alive but I’m not living. I just need a break from all that shit right now. I think they have no choice but to overstand now, and I think that a lot of time is gonna pass – I think it’s made them stronger individuals, and myself a lot more self-resilient and reliant. It was a blessing in disguise that we had this time apart, but to make a long story short we’re not broken up – we still talk and we still are trying to mend and come together and find a common ground again.”

article by: Dove
~Sheepish Lordess of Chaos~

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