Mister Crazy returns with a killer solo album and talks to Dazed Digital about the influence of a certain James Bond
Cee Lo Green is best known as the dulcet tones of Gnarls Barkley, the duo he fronts with producer Danger Mouse. He has just released his third solo album, 'Lady Killer'. Earlier this year one of the tracks from the album ’Fuck U’ became a huge viral hit and later scored Cee Lo his first UK number 1. Hailing from Atlanta, pre-Gnarls Barkley, he was a member of southern hip hop act Goodie Mob. He chatted to Dazed Digital about who his favourite lady killer is, and how he took on the mind frame of a contract killer when creating the album.
Dazed Digital: Who's your lady killer idol?
Cee Lo Green: I don't wanna seem typical, I guess I could name the ones we all kinda know, but then again there are the ones we don't know, like Serge Gainsbourg. Someone who isn't maybe ideal in image, but still very effective. He could be the greatest example of what my definition of it would be because you can't tell. Maybe it came from some hardship initially, I believe his ability came from some very humble abilities, as opposed to someone like George Clooney or Brad Pitt who had it thrown at them. I haven’t met them in person and I don’t know them personally but I cant be so certain that their attitudes are as handsome as they are. You know what I'm saying?
DD: I guess the most famous British lady killer would be James Bond. The intro to the album is even a bit reminiscent of a James Bond soundtrack.
Cee Lo Green: Who's the real James Bond? Roger Moore, Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig? Who's the real one? James Bond is an enigma.
DD: If you were a character in a James Bond film would you be a spy or a villain?
Cee Lo Green: Villain. I'd probably break somebody's neck or something!
DD: What was the driving inspiration behind Lady Killer?
Cee Lo Green: The title alone likens itself to a James bond movie, it kind of seems like it could be a title of one, it has a cinematic quality. Sonically I wanted it to be a mixture of something elegant and edgy at the same time. So Lady Killer is what I wanted it to sound like. Again, going back to Serge, it doesn't matter what it looks like, it's what it feels like.
DD: What was the highlight of making the album
Cee Lo Green: Having that genuine ability and association and inheritance of actually being one extension of a true self and it not being something of a facade that was true. That's the best part about it, that I get to have a career out of being myself, or whoever I want to be at the time.
DD: It’s been five years since your last solo album. What have you learnt or experienced during this time that you’ve brought to the new record?
Cee Lo Green: If you take the ‘lady’ off and it's just 'killer', that means its not about random gunfire, it's about the marksmanship. This album was a direct shot. When something is killed, it's usually because of business. when someone is a killer, they usually have a license to kill, as opposed to murder being committed out of emotion and impulse. It's not a crime that you can easily get away with, as it hasn’t been thought all the way through. When someone is murdered it's up close and personal, but someone can be killed from 100 yards away. You never hear the term contract murderer, but you've got the term contract killer. So this album is about marksmanship. I've tried to apply that same aesthetic to an album.
DD: How do you regard the phenomenal success of Fuck U?
Cee Lo Green: The song itself is about being flawed and it's sung with flaw, which is why my voice has a very humane quality to it. It's this underground working class hero quality to it. But if people think it's great then that must go to show how great we are. So that's why I share this song with so many people who can relate. It's our song, it's art imitating life.