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Cee Lo Green: Such A 'Lady Killer'
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Cee Lo Green: Such A 'Lady Killer'


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Melissa Block.

(Soundbite of song, "The Lady Killer")

BLOCK: He had me at...

(Soundbite of song, "The Lady Killer")

Mr. CEE LO GREEN (Singer): Well, hello there.

BLOCK: Singer Cee Lo Green.

(Soundbite of song, "The Lady Killer")

Mr. GREEN: My name is not important.

BLOCK: The star of hip-hop and funk, one-half of the duo Gnarls Barkley, Cee Lo Green is out with a new CD that's drenched in soul and retro camp. It's called "Lady Killer."

(Soundbite of song, "The Lady Killer")

Mr. GREEN: I'm not above the law. And I'm certainly not lawless. But when it comes to ladies, I have a license to kill.

BLOCK: Well, Cee Lo Green, that's the title song, "The Lady Killer." I think you are channeling your inner James Bond here.

Mr. GREEN: I think so.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of song, "The Lady Killer")

Mr. GREEN: "The Lady Killer" kind of sounded like it could be a title for a Bond movie. It also kind of implied what I wanted sonically - something edgy and elegant at the same time, something urban and international at the same time.

BLOCK: Let's get a sense of where this new CD fits in with your earlier music. I want to listen back to your Atlanta hip-hop group Goodie Mob, the song from 1995 called "Soul Food."

(Soundbite of song, "Soul Food")

Mr. Green: (Rapping) It's such a blessing when my eyes get to see the sun rise. I'm ready to begin. Another chance to get further away from where I've been. But I'll never forget everything I went...

BLOCK: Okay, and then your smash hit with Gnarls Barkley - a lot of people will recognize this - "Crazy" from 2006.

(Soundbite of song, "Crazy")

Mr. GREEN: (Singing) Does that make me crazy? Does that make me crazy?

BLOCK: So, Cee Lo Green, what led you in this new direction, which has this real sort of classic soul vintage sound?

(Soundbite of song, "Old Fashioned")

Mr. GREEN: Well, I'm inspired by elder music. I've been in the industry long enough to be an elder statesman myself at this time, after 17 years, professionally. And I believe it is very seasoned, you know, and sexy.

(Soundbite of song, "Old Fashioned")

Mr. GREEN: (Singing) My love, old fashioned, but it still works just the way it is.

BLOCK: Who elder inspiration are you talking about? Who in particular are you thinking out there?

Mr. GREEN: Jackie Wilson and Al Green and Barry White and Earth, Wind and Fire and so, so, so much more.

(Soundbite of song, "Old Fashioned")

Mr. GREEN: (Singing) Ooh on time, ooh timeless.

BLOCK: You are really getting up there.

Mr. GREEN: I can get up there, and I can get down there.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: You do some of that too.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of song, "Old Fashioned")

Mr. GREEN: (Singing) Ooh...

BLOCK: Do you tend to like old things, vintage things, retro things?

Mr. GREEN: I tend to like antique things. Something can be old, but it can be timeless. You know, it has a timeless quality, so therefore, it becomes an antique. You know, and if this antique is preserved and deemed precious, it could be passed down as a family heirloom. You know what I'm saying?

BLOCK: Mm-hmm. Can you think of something in your house, maybe in your studio that has that history, and you look at it, and you pick it up, and you just -do you think about all that?

Mr. GREEN: I have one thing that I'm saving for my son. It's a 1965 Chevy Impala Super Sport. It's a beautiful sea-foam green color. It's like a teal green, white interior, and it's just a gorgeous car. And when my mother passed, she had left some insurance money, and it just is my mother, because I bought this car with some of that money. It's one of my first cars that I bought. It's just parked, and it's just kind of being preserved. And, you know, I really want my son to have it years from now.

BLOCK: So that's waiting for him when he's old enough to drive?

Mr. GREEN: Mm-hmm.

BLOCK: Let's listen to the song "Satisfied."

Mr. GREEN: Okay.

(Soundbite of song, "Satisfied")

Mr. GREEN: (Singing) Baby, where's the road taking us? And maybe that's why they call it making love. And, darling, I will do my best. I'm falling at the feet of your highness. Don't need to ask, the answer is always yes. Well, the least I can do is try. I want you to think you're satisfied.

BLOCK: Cee Lo Green, tell me about this big horns there.

Mr. GREEN: This song here, it went through - quite a few of the songs on the album went through a metamorphosis, you know, of music. It ended up having this Motown kind of quality, northern soul kind of quality. The original way it was, it reminded me of something that Prince would have done. So that if you listen to the hook...

(Soundbite of song, "Satisfied")

Mr. GREEN: (Singing) I want you to think you're satisfied.

It sounds like Prince.

(Singing) I want you to...

You know what I'm saying?

BLOCK: Yeah.

Mr. GREEN: (Singing) Satisfied.

You know, that I was thinking Prince there.

(Soundbite of song, "Satisfied")

Mr. GREEN: (Singing) Baby, baby.

Then, there was a time when the track sounded like something that was country. If you listen...

(Soundbite of song, "Satisfied")

Mr. GREEN: (Singing) Baby. Baby.

See what I'm saying?

(Singing) Where's the road taking us? And maybe...

BLOCK: I can hear that. Little (unintelligible) behind you and you get - you're off there.

Mr. GREEN: Yeah. So it was a country song, a country song by Prince.

BLOCK: I'm just imagining the possibilities there that...

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of song, "Satisfied")

Mr. GREEN: (Singing) Well, the least I can do is try. I want you to think you're satisfied.

BLOCK: You know, I realize we've made it this far into our conversation, Cee Lo Green, without having talked about the song that went viral this summer, put you on the charts, the sanitized version is "Forget You."

Mr. GREEN: So sanitized.

(Soundbite of song, "Forget You")

Mr. GREEN: (Singing) I see you driving around town with the girl I love, and I'm like forget you. Ooh, ooh, ooh. I guess the change in my pocket wasn't enough. I'm like forget you and forget her too. I said if I was richer...

BLOCK: Well, if this CD is all about this Lady Killer character, this song, though, is about the other guy, right, the guy with not enough change in his pocket who gets left far behind.

Mr. GREEN: Well, see, this one was written in retrospect because you say to yourself Lady Killer is a condition and you say, well, what caused this? The same way if you ask, you know, how did Peter Parker become Spider-Man? You say, well, he got bit by a radioactive spider. How did Lady Killer become a Lady Killer? He got his heart broken.

BLOCK: And the rest is history.

Mr. GREEN: Yeah.

(Soundbite of song, "No One's Gonna Love You")

BLOCK: All of the songs on the CD are songs that you wrote or co-wrote, except for one, and that's a song by the indie rock group Band of Horses called "No One's Gonna Love You."

(Soundbite of song, "No One's Gonna Love You")

Mr. GREEN: (Singing) It's looking like a limb torn off.

BLOCK: How did you find that song?

Mr. GREEN: Band of Horses are unsung heroes and underdogs, and I consider myself the same. And I thought I would honor someone like-minded.

(Soundbite of song, "No One's Gonna Love You")

Mr. GREEN: (Singing) No one is ever going to love you more than I do. No one's going to love you more than I do.

BLOCK: So what is this song about for you?

Mr. GREEN: It's a bit of loss and regret. It's bittersweet.

(Soundbite of song, "No One's Gonna Love You")

Mr. GREEN: (Singing) A better side...

The fact that you can love something that's lost is all of the incentive that you'll ever need to love again as opposed to becoming comfortably numb.

(Soundbite of song, "No One's Gonna Love You")

Mr. GREEN: (Singing) ...just to be over then...

BLOCK: Well, Cee Lo Green, thank you so much.

Mr. GREEN: You too.

BLOCK: Cee Lo Green's new album is "The Lady Killer."

(Soundbite of song, "No One's Gonna Love You")

Mr. GREEN: (Singing) But no one is ever going to love you more than I do. No one's going to love you more...

BLOCK: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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