Photo courtesy of Wireimage
Guns don't kill people, Cee-Lo does, women to say the least with kindness. Love is his ammunition, despite the original cache of weaponry shown on the unofficial cover art for his new mixtape Stray Bullets. If you've been paying attention to the solo career of Cee-Lo Green, post Goodie Mob, post Dungeon Family, he's become quite the entertainer, a showman even. His flair for eccentric costumes, and imaginative songwriting is fit for all ages gleaning sex, horror, then stuff you can play for kids because he's not afraid to dress like your kid's after-school special. Working alongside Danger Mouse, his breadth of material became so weird to the point it grew a life of it's own as Gnarls Barkley, with a gun firing a heart-shaped salvo as its symbol for creativity and whatever ideas they shot off, and stuck to your ribs. After the multi-platinum success of two mammoth albums by Gnarls Barkley, Cee-Lo is back to making music to pierce your heart, mind and soul. His interview with Suite903 after the jump explores the origin of his new material.
Click here to download Cee-Lo's Stray Bullets mixtape.
INTERVIEW BY RICHARD "TREATS" DRYDEN
What's going on as far as your next venture? I've heard a bit of Stray Bullets, I've heard a bunch of other mp3's online. I'm excited about your return.
Cee-Lo: Thank you for making us feel welcome. So Stray Bullets will serve as an appetizer/entree for the main course which is Lady Killer, later on this year (September, November) maybe even be a stocking stuffer just depends on if people can't just wait another minute.
So you're in Atlanta right now, are you still living in Atlanta these days?
Cee-Lo: I wouldn't call it "living." I'm back and forth man, you know.
Where are you back and forth between?
Cee-Lo: Uh, whether it be LA, or Miami.
Have you been doing a lot of your recording outside of Atlanta these days?
Cee-Lo: I do a lot of recording in Miami, and a lot of recording in LA, I did some recording in London, and in New York too.
Are your travels influencing your music at all?
Cee-Lo: I'd say it's given me a worldly international approach and attitude towards doing the music which is easily my aspiration at all times—to reach as many people as I can.
Here's the thing: you're already a worldly musician off the success you've earned with Goodie Mob and Danger Mouse. Would you say that a lot of your—for lack of a better word—ecclecisim (if that's a word), has that been attributed to your travels or just your experience in the music industry?
Cee-Lo: No, I think it can stem from my aspirations to travel. But more so to be recieved and related to and revered as such and recognized as such. Definitely, eccentric is one way to describe it but my way of being is nothing new. I'm a product of that highly imaginative environment.
As far as your imagination is concerned, musically and creatively. What do you think about when you're creating these pieces of art?
Cee-Lo: I think about it being something organic, original, imperative, and urgent. Again, I often mistake my own music for missionary work because I do believe that it is a torch I bear for the sake of not only self-preservation, but for the livelihood and the longevity of our community which is our music, if that makes any sense.
Very much so. I see it having this greater cultural value because it's rooted in all these different forms of music, and wherever you're getting that from internally or externally it definitely pushes the envelope.
Cee-Lo: Yeah it's truly a must. I definitely want to be the evidence of an alternative and an open option. To allow optimism to set in on both sides of the bargain—that being consumer and creator, artist and executive. If more people are optimistic, and if there's more tangible evidence of what's possible, more insiders can advocate and endorse that type of free thinking.
I see the free thinking you're going for. Um, the record I just got finished listening to, "I want my pussy cat..."
Cee-Lo: "Cho Cha the Cat." Isn't that one adorable, don't lie!
You gotta have fun with it. But you could even be making a personal statement with a record like that. Haha.
Cee-Lo: Well with this album the way that it focuses on the man-woman disposition and dilemma so to speak, it's a side of myself I don't think that I've showcased. I am an admirer of all things woman, you know what I'm saying? So I studied and critiqued, and observed, and written, and thought and acted upon and all these different things. It's the same way that I believe people had become almost totally convinced was Gnarls Barkley—the character, when in actuality Gnarls Barkley isn't who I am, it's who I can be. So with Lady Killer, my relationship with women quietly has run concurrent of all my artistic endeavours. This album is very personal to me and it's my own private time and space the way that I deal with my woman. Let me ask you this, did Stray Bullets shock your mind in the right way? Did it totally throw you off? How did you feel?
I can't say it threw me off. I definitely laughed out loud at "Cho Cha the Cat." I don't really think it matters what you do at this point. I think if you do anything people will be excited. I think whatever you do you'll do it 110 percent. Just listening to some of your solo work like Cee-Lo Green is the Soul Machine, the diversity of songs on that album, that set the tone for the Gnarls Barkley stuff.
Cee-Lo: It did!
I think it's highly overlooked. I was in college when "Closet Freak" came out. And I remember watching it on MTV2 and all my friends are like, "what are you watching? This is insane." This was at a time when things were very traditional as far as rap is concerned and to have this rap veteran do something that's so outside of the box, it was unheard of, but it was so good and it was ahead of it's time.
Cee-Lo: Oh yeah.
I'm not trying to gas you up but I'm just trying to answer your question.
Cee-Lo: Well too late for that young man!
Haha. It's amazing, I could still play "Closet Freak" now and it would still get a good response as it did way back.
Cee-Lo: That's one of my favorite songs, "Closet Freak."
Do you still perform that?
Cee-Lo: Yep, I do, haha.
And that's just like one of those records, take for instance—and I hate to bring up the Hip-Hop Honors thing, because it can be taken different ways. When they play certain records on Hip-Hop Honors that are kind of commercial but have been kind of overlooked, at the same time in the case of "Closet Freak," if that was to come on I think it would completely bring the house down.
Cee-Lo: It may have man, but I know exactly what you meant man. There was some dead moments on there man, like they did not know their Silk the Shocker songs up there.
You're talking the audience?
Cee-Lo: Haha, yeah the audience. They should have did the shit in the south man. What the fuck is their problem?
You've been doing a lot of co-writing for artists like Kid Sister and Amerie. I've been looking for you to be recognized for taking such a big role in writing those songs.
Cee-Lo: Because I only need to be accredited the one time.
Right of course.
Cee-Lo: Well if we decided to make it a press campaign it would be totally different. My name is on that check, understand what I'm saying to you. That's not to insult it. Art and integrity are job one for me, my first priority. I do my best you know, and after my services are concluded and we shake hands on a job well done and I move on. They should benefit more off the publicity and the press as an on-going campaign. But the people behind the scenes know that I'm a writer and that's how I got that job.
It's amazing just point blank that you've been able to write such great songs for new talent right now.
Cee-Lo: Well Treats, I am the soul machine, may I remind you.
There are many great writers that are producers, but you are a multi-faceted solo artist who has taken a backseat as a writer these days.
Cee-Lo: Publicity stunts aren't necessarily, naturally my thing. I think quality will bring my name up in conversation that's good enough for me. That could be enough for anybody but some people really, really want to be famous. That's a little sad in my opinion. It's pretty overwhelming and it's an exciting industry to be in and a life to lead. But I've had quite a bit of time for me, but I'm proud to say it's somewhat of a day job.
You mean writing is somewhat of a day job.
Cee-Lo: It all is a great job. My greatest accomplishment is being a father to my lil' man.
Congratulations again sir.
Cee-Lo: That's what I be trippin' on. Sometimes I wish I could work less, man I'm missing out on some valuable moments, some precious moments. It bothers me that I have to work so hard sometimes.
Well I'm a newfound father myself.
Cee-Lo: I heard that! Congrats man! Hey man, we gotta grind while we can while we're able-minded, you gotta catch 'em at that time when they're too young to notice and when they're old enough to understand. I'll be able to catch 'em in a couple of years when they get a little serious, get a little peach fuzz, haha.