CeeLo Green talks in metaphors. Not only on songs but in normal conversation. He spits out analogies and double entendres almost reflexively as if he is processing information in a different language.
During a recent interview with the 43-year-old, a conversation centered around his new single, "Brick Road (Cookin’ Up)," premiering exclusively today via DJBooth, Green refers to his approach as speaking “in an art form.” In under 30 minutes, the "Fuck You" singer performed more than a dozen verbal acrobatics, including but not limited to:
- “You want to almost chaperone the listener through the first initial hit, and the first initial high.”
- “Too many opinions can make a good feeling malfunction.”
- “Talent can feed but one individual. Hustle can feed a household.”
This proclivity for parables is why when the 22-year veteran sings about “cooking up dope” on his new offering "Brick Road," the first single off his forthcoming mixtape Songbirds, he’s actually conjuring up something potent enough to hit you in your core and, at the same time, resurrect his Goodie Mob roots.
“Cooking up is a process, and it’s also a recipe," he says. "It’s not fast food, it’s a delicacy. I wanted to write something relative for the here and now, and let people know I’m coming from the curb, and I’m talking from the turf.”
"Brick Road"'s hauntingly beautiful beat blankets the desperation in CeeLo’s soulful voice like “razor blades making lifelines,” a play on the life-saving and life-ending duality of selling drugs. “I wanted to talk about it, but not in any typical or traditional way, so I think this is a nice marriage of narratives and nuance and harmony, but it definitely has the edge like Goodie [Mob],” Green says.
In addition to gearing up to release his new mixtape, CeeLo and Danger Mouse have been busy cooking up a brand new body of work as Gnarls Barkley, their first since 2008's The Odd Couple.
“We have already started on a new [Gnarls Barkley] album,” Green reveals. “We’re halfway in and we have some overtures from the other projects that may not have stood the test of time, we don’t know yet.”
Lo says the pair is planning to connect at the “top of the year,” and bang out the album in a week as they always have. “That’s pretty much all the time we had to do St. Elsewhere because we were heating up around that time," he says. "We were doing something recreationally.”
Though "Brick Road" isn't produced by Danger Mouse, Green believes it's the perfect appetizer for the impending Gnarls Barkley revival.
“All of this is all prequel. I think [Danger Mouse and I] are kind of rebuilding from the ground up. There is no building without a basement, it’s got to come up out the dirt; come up out the mud.”
Green has operated independently since the release of his 2015 album, Heart Blanche, and since removing the record label shackles, he says he's been able to do whatever the hell he wants—like "make a better version" of Childish Gambino’s "Redbone."
With millions of Gnarls Barkley and CeeLo Green fans anxiously awaiting the arrival of new music, and Green’s deep knowledge of the music industry, the man who embedded the phrase and hustling ethos of “get out, get up, and get something” into hip-hop’s collective consciousness on OutKast’s 1994 classic track Git Up, Git Out seems ready to do just that. “One thing about labels and the industry, it’s very ironic, they can’t pay to guarantee, they can only pay for the possibility. With a person like CeeLo Green, it’s always possible. That’s why I’m dangerous again, I’m back on the block.”
Green is ready to pave his own path, brick by brick.