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Lo : Cee-Lo Green Is... The Soul Machine

Lo : Cee-Lo Green Is... The Soul Machine Album Cover

Release Date: 03.02.04
Record label: Arista
Genre(s): Rap, Hip-Hop, R&B, etc.


The Power That You Hear is from the Heart of a Human Being
by: matt cibula

I could write this review pretty much just by quoting different lyrics flipped on this album by Cee-Lo, because there’s some ill material here. There are individually great rhymes like “How could I possibly be inconspicuous / When my flow is fucking ridiculous”; there are wild poetic excursions (“I been runnin’ since rock box / I’ve cocked locks and locked blocks and rocked rocks and dropped tops / the obviously hard / 5 foot 6 inch guard”) and sweet love songs and betrayal songs and religious numbers – words from any of these could, theoretically, make you want this album so bad your teeth vibrate.

But that wouldn’t tell the whole story. In order to do that, I’d have to talk about how these hip-hop and funk and soul and jazz tracks are laid down by some of the most important producers in the game today: the Virginian semi-rivals Timbaland and the Neptunes have starring roles, Jazze Pha runs up on ‘em, DJ Premier from Gang Starr does his best work in years on “Evening News,” and Cee-Lo himself (under his real name of Thomas Callaway) puts down some slamming tracks. Organized Noize, though, steals the show beat-wise with…oh, that will come up later.

But the on-point musical backing wouldn’t be enough without the voice to back it up. Cee-Lo here does more than just rap in a few different styles: he also sings like a short fat angel of soul on tracks like “All Day Love Affair,” whispers out his intentions in spoken-word style to begin “I Am Selling Soul,” and whips out a plug-ugly snarl on “Glockapella.” Finding someone who’s dope in one style is highly unlikely; finding someone who’s a specialist in all styles is more like once in a lifetime.

Well, we found him. I got to know Lo through Goodie and his many appearances on other people’s records, but it was his first solo record, Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections, that really showed that he could do anything. On this record, though, he goes beyond everything, into…well, I honestly don’t know WHERE he’s going on stuff like the completely surreal “Childz Play,” on which Cee-Lo and Ludacris rhyme to a “Carol of the Bells” 6/8 spazzcore thing that Lo himself describes as “Saturday morning cartoon” music. Yeah, this is the Organized Noize track I was going to talk about – this kind of beat is so NOT hip-hop that it goes around the world to become TOTAL hip-hop, crazy insane weirdosity where each three-syllable line is ripped in between beats that would make evil clowns pull out their own sharpened teeth.

I don’t even know what I mean by that.

When it comes down to it, though, this record belongs to none of those things in particular and all of them in general. Cee-Lo is a gestaltist of the highest order, a rapper / singer / producer / songwriter who loves all kinds of music equally, and isn’t afraid to jam ‘em all up together and then ripping lines and testifying like no one on earth can touch him.

Honestly, I can’t really find anything to dislike here, anything to pick on or pick out as a flaw of any kind. Sure, there is some violent imagery, but it’s balanced with the most beautiful wordplay and sentiments (“Good night baby / I spent the whole day with my friend / Hopefully God’ll wake me up baby / To see you in the morning / Ooh child”). Sure, it’s 70 minutes long, but there isn’t a song I’d subtract. Some tracks are light, some are dark, some change halfway through; “I Am Selling Soul” starts in neo-soul mode and then gets REALLY interesting…but I ain’t givin’ away the ending. Hell, it’s awesome.

Even the damn title is perfect. Maybe you can find something wrong here, but I can’t. 05-Mar-2004 9:00 AM