The magical voice of Cee-Lo translates whether he's singing songs that make immediate impact on pop radio like his latest single, "F--- You," or records that capture the hearts of the hip-hop community like his feature on Rick Ross' "Tears of Joy." For the Atlanta legend, he said singing is a perfect way to release his pain and that he will continue to show his versatility.
"It's simple, man. Me and Ross got history. We holla," Lo said about the latter record. "On the few occasions that we've met, it's always love and admiration. To do the record, of course it would have to been the right record. Who would have known 'Tears of Joy' would have been so immediate and apparently urgent of a song? It reverberated immediately. I'm never too quick to say, 'This is a hit record.' I don't even know how to talk like that. Each artistic endeavor of mine has always been an act of faith. I don't really know. I'm only doing what my heart and gut tells me to do. But I already know what comes out my mouth is different. Then again, there's something so signature about the 'Tears of Joy' joint. It reminds you — especially my fellow Southerners — it reminds you of a Goodie Mob record."
When Lo ran into Ross earlier this year in L.A., the Miami kingpin told him about the song he wanted to collaborate on. Ross sent the song off, and in two weeks, it was completed.
"He had verses on it already," Cee-Lo said. "But [the words] 'Tears of Joy' is all I needed. Ross did Ross, which is great. [The song] represents the contrast/contradiction which is life."
Cee-Lo said "Tears of Joy" almost represents a "homecoming" for him in the eyes of some fans to his soulful roots, first introduced with Outkast and his group Goodie Mob. Cee-Lo also argued that he's actually never left those musical beginnings; he's just simply ventured out and experimented on such projects as Gnarls Barkley's two LPs to show his peers and the fans how far hip-hop could go and to express his different sides.
"It is a continuation of the same revolution I have always talked about," he insisted. "It's the fact that people don't know me completely. I'm just now telling you more about myself. I'm a book, not a magazine."
Lo's next album, Lady Killer, comes out later this year, and he's also working on the next album from the Mob.
"The solo album is something completely different," he revealed. "I got that mixtape out there, Stray Bullets, which is a prequel to the album Lady Killer. That's got nothing to do with what I do with Goodie, besides quality. But Goodie, man, that's what 'Tears of Joy' represents. I hope people can see the bigger picture. None of that is lost in me. I ain't got so rich and famous that I separated from the soul. That's me, that's what I'm about. It's on the tip of my tongue at all times. It's people wanting that and needing that, that's all the incentive I need. That's what makes my life worth living, especially when I remember there was time I ain't have nothing constructive to say. So any time I can do it, I feel like I'm further ensuring good favor in my rights of passage, being pleasing in the sight of my maker. It truly means that much to me. My pain runs deep. All of that is behind what I got to sing."
For anyone wondering when Cee-Lo will make a full-throttle return to rapping, he said it will be on the Goodie Mob reunion LP, which doesn't have a release date yet.
"When people be asking why I don't rap no more, it's not that. ... It's gotta come," he explained. "I'mma isolate that to the Goodie Mob. That's all I care to rap about. Rappin' is like a contact sport. It's an attitude. So the only thing I get angry about is the calls [about me not rapping]. That makes me wanna fight. As far as somebody stepping on my shoes, because we standing too close to each other, I don't have that problem. Nobody does what I do. I don't have no conflict. So I can do what eases my mind. I do believe that music is not meant to agitate; it's meant to soothe the savage beast. I'm one of them beasts. It soothes me. I'm impressed, because I can separate myself from it and give credit to a higher power. It ain't really me. To be able to sing is a blessing to me. But really, you hurt so bad, sometimes I can't even rap about it. I gotta sing. That's why it always hurts a little bit no matter what I'm singing. There's pain in it. As far as Goodie goes, I got that. That's all I'm trying to tell y'all."
Lady Killer has a tentative release date in December.
Lil Wayne's Young Money army is loading up and getting ready to unleash a wave of new music toward the end of this year and the beginning of next year. The youngest of the Young Money crew, Lil Twist and Lil Chuckee, are working the Net and the mixtape circuit, as are Jae Millz and Gudda Gudda. Tyga, who's performing shows in South Africa this week, just dropped a video for his Lil Wayne-featured "I'm On It," and of course, his Chris Brown collaboration "Deuces" is an undeniable people-propelled hit. The record was a mixtape song, but through requests and video play on MTV Jams and "106 & Park," it's become a number-one hit.
Young Money president Mack Maine says that Tyga has an official second single coming soon and is hoping the company releases his album before 2010 is over. If not, look for Tyga at the top of 2011.
The biggest Young Money releases this year, of course, are coming courtesy of the leader of the family, Lil Wayne. Weezy has a 10-song project called I Am Not a Human Being that will be released digitally on his birthday, September 27. YM has tentative plans to come right back with more Weezy on November 5. That album, of course, will be his über-anticipated Tha Carter IV, or C4 as it's been nicknamed.
"Tha Carter IV plans we had and still have are to put Tha Carter IV out the day he comes out [of prison]," Mack said Thursday in New York. "He had so many songs for Tha Carter IV, we said let's just put these 10 songs out [on I Am Not a Human Being] and double-back for Tha Carter IV. He has more songs for Tha Carter IV that are still strong."
Mack says that Wayne is deeply involved in Tha Carter IV's song selection process despite currently serving his yearlong sentence on Rikers Island.
"It's basically me, him, Baby and Cortez Bryant mapping it out," Mack explained. "We had a listening session out here. It was me, Baby and Cortez. I let [Wayne] know these are the ones we picked. He already picked six of them from back there. I let him hear it over the phone. I book him a studio session — kinda like I did for the 'Light Up' up remix with Drake. I book him a studio session and let him listen [to tracks] over the phone. 'Do you like this one?' 'Yeah?' "
While Wayne shot a slew of videos for guest spots on other artists' songs and for his Rebirth LP before he went to prison, Weezy did not get to film videos for I Am Not a Human Being or Carter IV, which by no means is stifling plans for the releases. "Right Above It" (originally a track for Carter IV) is the first single for ... Human Being and has been released to radio. Meanwhile, Mack says the camp is thinking about not putting any music from Carter IV out prior to the release. They're toying with the idea of letting the fans be surprised when they purchase the project.
"We might just drop the album that day," Mack said of C4. "Just hope it don't leak out and drop it that day. I think it would be crazy, the anticipation."
Right now, Wayne has a tentative release date from prison of November 5. Not only does Young Money want to drop Carter IV that day, they want to hold a welcome-home concert that night, which Wayne would headline.
"That's where we are aiming for now," Mack explained. "I think the [Madison Square] Garden would be perfect. I wanna keep it Young Money. I think we can hold our own. As far as his set, it would be nice to have features and cameos on his set. As far as who opens for him, it'll be a no-brainer, Young Money could hold it down. Just have the big features on Wayne's set. He's gonna have a show, then go to the studio. I just had a birthday recently. I had four parties for my birthday. For him, it's no telling how that week would go, how that month would go. Five months [would go]. We're gonna party like when Frank came home in 'King of New York.' We're gonna go crazy."
Also in November, the 23rd to be exact, comes Nicki Minaj's debut Pink Friday. Drake is already working on another album as well as a mixtape, and according to Mack, it's "real possible" that Drizzy's sophomore LP will come before next summer.
While Mack has been aggressively carrying out his duties as an executive, let's not forget he's still an artist. He has a new single out called "All in One Swipe" featuring the Birdman, Rick Ross and Chu. Mack's new mixtape and album are currently in production.
This Sunday, MTV Jams will debut Mack's new video "I'm From New Orleans," a collaboration with Lucci Lou and T@, which will be featured during a daylong celebration called "Louisiana Love." On the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, MTV Jams is celebrating the life and the strength of the survivors of the hurricane.