Monday, October 02, 2006

Before Gnarls, there was Cee-Lo.

Gnarls Barkley may have had the biggest song of 2006 with “Crazy” (Gnarls Barkley’s home page), but many don’t realize that the distinctive high-pitched voice behind Gnarls Barkley has been a prominent figure in the hip-hop world for more than a decade.

Cee-Lo (see his MySpace page) made his debut on Outkast’s 1994 single “Git Up, Git Out” and shortly followed this appearance with Soul Food, the debut album from his group Goodie Mob. With his distinctive rapping and singing style, Cee-Lo released three Goodie Mob albums, two solo projects and provided guest vocals for almost every Outkast album, in addition to dozens of other hip-hop albums by other artists.

Yet with all of Cee-Lo’s hard work, it has been St. Elsewhere, his experimental duet album with producer Danger Mouse (under the moniker of Gnarls Barkley), that has brought him the most notoriety and fame.

This image of Cee-Lo’s greatest hits collection (a European release) put things into perspective for me. That sticker on the cover, which reads “Cee-Lo is the voice of Gnarls Barkley,” will probably be a huge booster for the album’s sales.

Here in the United States, a similar compilation of hits, titled Closet Freak: The Best of Cee-Lo Green The Soul Machine will be released Oct. 31. Who knows, this well-timed release may help introduce Gnarls Barkley fans to a broad range of Cee-Lo’s work they may not have been aware of.


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