15 November, 2010@2:21 am
Cee-Lo Green has been an extremely talented, yet painfully underrated artist since his career started as a member of the Goodie Mob in the 90s. Ever since he sang the intro song “Free” on the Southern collective’s Cell Therapy album, it was evident that the big bellied Southerner has vocal chops that match his lyrical ability. After a couple of solo albums and massive successful albums as Gnarls Barkley (with producer Danger Mouse) Cee-Lo returns with his latest outing The Lady Killer.
With tongue-in-cheek “Fuck You” being the lead single, Cee-Lo’s third solo endeavor is packed full of old fashioned R&B, thick vocals and a ride through various eras of music that are all paid homage to without outright Xeroxing of the formula.
Cee-Lo’s voice is unique but vaguely familiar to anyone who has heard a choir or the powerful voices from the 60s. It’s part church, part soul and all Cee-Lo Green. Whether it is the way he belts out each note on the powerful “No One’s Gonna Love You” or the trip-hop instrumentation he glides across on “Please,” Cee-Lo proves that he’s a jack of all trades when it comes to vocals.
Aside from the censored version of “Fuck You” being dubiously fitted on the album’s tracklist in place of the original, The Lady Killer is a refreshing ride through music history. “It’s Ok” and “Cry Baby” find Cee-Lo calling upon the Motown era as the instrumentation and vocal arrangement do the music of that time frame justice. “Old Fashioned” bellows with a touching nod to Solomon Burke with its hearty vocals strung out on the deep soul ballad. Simply put, Cee-Lo doesn’t just nod and tip his hat to these periods of music; he brings them to the new millennium tastefully while showcasing just how amazing of an artist he truly is.
The album’s standout track is the sultry Salaam Remi produced “Bodies” where Cee-Lo weaves a haunting tale of the sweetest psychopath you will ever meet over chilling strings and rolling drums. Let’s just say he takes The Lady Killer title figuratively and literally.
What’s truly unfortunate is that Cee-Lo has yet to be truly appreciated by the culture of hip hop that birthed him back in the 90s. Most of the attention goes toward Andre 3000 when it comes to the hybrid of being a rapper/singer with an eclectic base, but Cee-Lo is truly the one who has mastered the art. It wasn’t until he unintentionally crossed over with Gnarls Barkley that his talents became recognized by all. So it is safe to say that many will find The Lady Killer too pop for their tastes; which is unfair to an artist who has been giving it his all for almost two decades.
But alas, The Lady Killer proves that once again Cee-Lo is a talent that cannot be denied. There’s a difference between those that try to be unique and those who just are. Cee-Lo, by far, is the latter. One of the greatest true artists of this era who somehow gets his name left off of top ten lists just cannot be denied any longer.
In conjunction with The Well Versed.
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