A hearty thank-you to Larry Mizell, Jr., the new host of KEXP's weekly hip-hop smackdown "Street Sounds," for not only playing Cee-Lo this past Sunday, but also playing a cut off his first solo album! I'm not a fan of the exclamation point, and I don't use it much, but in this case it's warranted, as Cee-Lo is one of the truly great MCs--a sainted son of the South, a boogie man (not to be confused with bogey man), a two-fisted brawler, a gold-plated Liberace, a homunculus with a revolutionary streak, a high priest of style (Andre 3000 ain't got shit on 'Lo), and one helluva good writer. I could string together clauses dangerously close to metastasizing into run-ons all day in praise of the Atlanta-born badass.
Have you heard Cee-Lo's solo work? Sure, you know him from Goodie Mob, that A-town collective of MCs who dropped two classics of Southern hip-hop, Soul Food and Still Standing. (Pick up the latter album and tell me Cee-Lo, despite his diminutive size, doesn't tower over his band-mates.) And, of course, you know him from Gnarls Barkley, though everyone, including Chuck Klosterman, only wants to talk about Cee-Lo's partner, Danger Mouse. But if you're a fan of either his past work with the Mob or with the Mouse, you should run out and cop Cee-Lo's two solo discs, Cee-Lo and His Perfect Imperfections and Cee-Lo Green...is the Soul Machine. Both feature Cee-Lo's uncanny ability to wind his voice, whether singing or spitting, around grooves of his own making that shimmer with funktastic warmth. Then there are his inventive videos, two of which from his debut, "Getting Grown" and "Closet Freak," are available here and here (the embed function is disabled). Watch and learn.