- Posted on Feb 25th 2011 11:30AM by Joshua Ostroff
Ben Trivett, AOL
Hardly a newcomer, Cee Lo started out as a teenage gospel singer in Atlanta, where his parents were Baptist ministers. Both died when he was young, casting a dark shadow across much of his subsequent songwriting. After rising to prominence in the early '90s as a member of the Georgia hip-hop crew Goodie Mob, with whom he plans to reunite this year, Cee Lo struck out as a soul singer, releasing a pair of critically acclaimed yet commercially unsuccessful solo albums. His luck changed in 2006, when he joined forces with Danger Mouse, formed Gnarls Barkley and dropped the global smash 'Crazy.'
Weeks before heading to SXSW to welcome even more fans aboard his bandwagon, Cee Lo chatted with Spinner about his career highs and lows, why he's still hungry and how he's like that genetic freak from 'Splice.'
Did you think that back in those Atlanta days that you'd achieve this level of stardom?
I feel very fortunate to be alive and well. Things like education and security -- whether that be house and home or monetarily -- those are the things that maybe were easier to assume kept you alive when I was younger. I'm uneducated but I'm safe. Being safe and secure are two totally different degrees of well-being. So, I'm safe now. I don't know about secure.
Are you still hungry?
I'm still hungry. I'm still willing to do something out of my comfort zone in order to eat. So there's quite a real danger involved in that act. I feel very privileged to be alive.
We loved your 'Cee Lo Green Is the Soul Machine' album. Why do you think it didn't crack through?
For a few technical reasons. I embody oxymoron and irony. I am not instant gratification. But with that being said, it could've been mis-marketing, improper management, malfunction, malpractice. I knew who I was -- they just didn't know. Then again it could be a bit of my own fault because I wasn't able to better articulate who I am. I was becoming someone before their eyes.
Have you ever seen that movie 'Splice,' where they make that thing?
It's that horror movie about genetic hybrid, right?
Yeah, she's cute, too. I feel like that. I feel like, just for reference sake, that I was something growing beyond their control. They could not control me or slot me into a genre or classification. The threat level was at orange, so they had to bring in the SWAT team.
You said that you're not instant gratification, but 'F--- You' was all about instant gratification. That was a song that people heard once and they e-mail to their friends.
You know what, though? I wasn't even trying to be that. I would rather be enigmatic. I would have rathered that than instant gratification. I like the thought of being a comet as opposed to a star. Something in passing that happens more often then you realize. We're hardly ever in the right place at the right time to see a comet and maybe not looking, and every time you aren't looking that's when it's probably happening. So it makes you more aware of your surroundings, heightens your sensory glands.
I've never felt normal [like a star]. I wasn't treated normal. But the insulting part about it is if I'm not normal what do you consider me to be? Abnormal? That's insulting. I'm not beneath you -- I'm just not like you.
It was whip-smart the way 'F--- You' was released online, because it clearly wasn't getting on the radio.
I can't say there was anything genius about the way 'F--- You' was done. I put it out there -- it's free. There's no risk at all. Going viral was a given. With the internet and the accessibility that it entails, we're all a bit more advantaged. So you can say something that signifies you -- "Hey, look at me world, I'm me!" because of the internet. But that same convenience can become complacency.
Not every part of yourself should not be for sale or public. Who wants to see a clip of you f---ing washing your clothes or something? C'mon, I'm not buying that from you.
Catch Cee Lo Green's SXSW Set on Thursday, March 17 at La Zona Rosa (612 W 4th St.) 12AM.
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