I had the privilege of having a quick lunch with the fascinating Cee Lo Green, who is best known for being one fourth of rap group Goodie Mob and one half on the incredibly successful Gnarls Barkley. Currently promoting his latest solo record, “The Lady Killer,” the jack of all trades discussed everything from Twitter to his new TV show on Fuse. Check it out.
On how the process for “Lady Killer” was different:
I’ve had more of an executive producing, A&R-ing agenda for this record. I picked the people and the sound, as opposed to Danger Mouse compelling it. Working with him on Gnarls was a given, it was there. I didn’t have to create it. I trusted it. It [this album] was built from scratch.
On the inspiration for the album:
Well I was in London and I woke up in bed with a beautiful English woman and I said, “You know what? I could write an album about this!” I’m an international lover! No, I mean, Lady Killer is something that’s really simple for me but it’s sensationalized. But I love women, I’ve just never had the opportunity to talk about it in detail.
On Jannelle Monae:
She’s the next big thing. When she get that hit record…I had to do it. It’s not an easy thing to do. But It worked, damn it! Now I’m rich! I’m just joking.
Advice for up and coming artists:
The more you can do for yourself, the less favors you have to ask. The more you know yourself, the less chance somebody can tell you who you are or who you should be. Insistence is an approach, not necessarily a virtue. Go as far as you can go. Be original, that’s what matters. Stick with it, be faithful. Fate rewards faith. That’s what I believe. You gotta go through it to get to it.
On what drives him to make music:
It’s a duty. I’m just not tapped out at the moment. I just got more to give. The embrace of my fellow man is all the incentive anyone can ask for to continue. In many ways, I’m just getting started. “Lady Killer” literally is my first record as Cee Lo Green, a name brand. In Gnarls Barkley, they didn’t call me Cee Lo Green. They called me Gnarls. And that’s not my name.
On his song about where he grew up, “Georgia”:
This could’ve been a double album, I promise you. That would’ve been on it. Have you heard “Straight No Bullets”? Go get that. I recorded that. “Georgia” was supposed to symbolize the humble beginnings of “The Lady Killer.” That’s how I thought that it was relative, but we had to do the straight-to-DVD version. Later on, hopefully we can release the director’s cut.
On his music video with Eva Mendes for WIll Ferrel’s “The Other Guys”:
That was right down my alley. Any time I can have a little fun, it’s cool, man. It’s dope. I mean, we were just being silly to begin with. I did my part, and some of the track stuff wasn’t there and the arrangement wasn’t necessarily in place, and when I heard it it sounded like a real song. It wasn’t even as funny anymore.
On his new Fuse TV show:
It’s called “Lay It Down.” Due to debut in October. Featuring the likes of N.E.R.D., Ludacris, T-Pain, Janelle Monae, Public Enemy. That’s only the first season.
I don’t necessarily wanna do business with someone I couldn’t like personally, unless it was peanut butter and jelly. You know what I mean? You can have a peanut butter sandwich by itself and a jelly sandwich by itself but neither of them are going to be as good. Danger Mouse and I were peanut butter and jelly.
So people like Fantasia and Estelle are like-minded to you?
See, I know Tasia, and she’s got a gorgeous voice. She’s very talented, so I consider her willing to work with me as a compliment. So sometimes it’s flattering, and sometimes it’s a challenge, like “What can we do together?”
Were you and Danger Mouse like-minded at all?
That’s one of those special occasions were it just sorta happened to us. Me and him were a unit. The same with Goodie Mob and things I’ve been apart of formally. Other than that, I’m a higher gun. A love gun (laughs).
I do a lot of “now playings,” and I think that’s a direct line to my fans to see things that influence me the most. My taste, my range. Music is my life, it’s all that I am. I’m ultimately gonna be defined by it. So I feel that’s the most convenient way to say a lot of about myself. I love to laugh and joke and talk shit, I’m not serious 24 hours of day, so I try to put a little bit of that into my tweets.
On the popularity of “Crazy”:
I mean, people not understanding that song is acceptable in relation to people not completely understanding themselves. How normal is that? And people accept themselves, but again, Gnarls Barkely— That’s what “Going On” is about. It’s not about being followed but leading by example. So even if you inspire someone indirectly, even if you inspire someone to go their own way, then you’ve done a justice. But go forward. Don’t stand still, and certainly don’t go backwards. And the numbers don’t lie. We were able to make it commercially viable— they aren’t to be argued with, those numbers. And that’s quite a testament to what’s possible. That’s what I’m in it for.
On upcoming projects:
Goodie Mob first, Gnarls Barkley second.