Cee Lo Green... Is The Soul Machine

Cee Lo Green

Arista, 2004


REVIEW BY: Ben Ehrenreich


Cee Lo is like a chocolate-covered strawberry, sweet and nutritious. His delivery can range from soft crooning to lyrical assassin but is always easily digestible. Not only is his voice musically pleasing but his lyrics are filled with personal introspective thoughts on life. Few rappers can replicate the intimacy that Cee Lo delivers on this album.

For those of you who are familiar with Cee Lo from Goodie Mob or Gnarls Barkley, you will be impressed and surprised with the way he sounds. The beginning lines of “I Am Selling Soul” say it best: “I have yet to define myself as just one thing.” Cee Lo gives his Al Green impression on “All Day Love Affair,” slaughters haters on “Glockapella” and delivers beautiful poetry on “Sometimes.” Defining Cee Lo is nearly impossible because most of his songs are a combination of styles.

This album is not only driven by Cee Lo’s tremendous vocals but also his versatile production. He produced seven tracks while inviting the likes of The Neptunes, Timbaland, Jazze Pha, Organized Noise and the one and only DJ Premier to handle the rest. The songs “The Art Of Noise” (The Neptunes), “The One” (Jazze Pha), “My Kind Of People” (Cee Lo), and “When We Were Friends” (Cee Lo) are beautifully constructed and often used as interludes between Cee Lo’s more introspective songs. On “The One,” Cee Lo is joined by fellow southerner T.I. who gives a verse surprisingly reminiscent of a smooth-talking Big Daddy Kane. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

This album is very well put together and flows with almost no friction. Three songs consistently stand out: “Living Again,” “I Am Selling Soul” and “Sometimes.” Not coincidentally, Cee Lo produced all three of these and they cater to his unique style.

On “Living Again,” Cee Lo navigates through horns and background singing to deliver a thought-provoking performance about life. The song contains two verses with such strikingly different cadences that it’s hard to believe he’s on the same topic. His first one is a soft spoken personal ramble where his second one is an aggressive, almost insulting, critique. “I Am Selling Soul” is pure soul over a beautiful beat with an even more pleasing transition about two minutes into the song, while “Sometimes” is a poetic masterpiece, aided by a beautiful and subtle flute-assisted beat, which allows Cee Lo's words to stand out and reach his audience. At the end of each verse he says “Whoa” as if he can’t even believe what he just said. This fits perfectly because “Sometimes” contains pearls of wisdom that are far too rare in hip-hop today.

The only low points on the album are the overambitious “Childz Play,” featuring Ludacris, and “Let’s Stay Together,” featuring Pharrell. The former sounds cluttered and Cee-Lo’s stop-n-go flow is not one of his best. Ludacris, who usually is quite clever, delivers a verse laced with charisma and precision but lacks the wit or substance we are used to hearing from him. “Let’s Stay Together” is almost too smooth and, while some may find this pleasing to the ear, lacks the substance that is found on the rest of the album.

But those two don't take away from the sheer joy of this disc. After a time, listeners will find themselves agreeing with Cee Lo on “Sometimes” by simply saying "whoa."

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2006 Ben Ehrenreich and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Arista, and is used for informational purposes only.