Better With Time: CeeLo Green… Is The Soul Machine
Better With Time is us revisiting some projects we feel may not have been appreciated on their first go-round — Pro
Originally, CeeLo made waves as the gritty, southern bar god from Goodie Mob. His flawless cadence and flow instantly categorized him as an upper echelon hip-hop artist. Fast forward nearly ten years to 2004; this year found CeeLo in a strange place, from the outside looking in. Then, CeeLo Green is the Soul Machine happened and the hip-hop world rejoiced. Twelve years later, the Soul Machine album has only gotten better with time.
CeeLo’s prior album, CeeLo Green and His Perfect Imperfections, was met with iffy reviews and left critics asking for him to return to the “Goodie Mob” CeeLo that they all knew and loved. Enter, The Soul Machine. Finding a place to start when discussing the album is about as difficult as finding a flaw on it. The main conclusion? CeeLo was clearly sick of critics telling him who he should be and where his place was in this ever changing and unforgiving industry. So he made a place.
Each track features every element of CeeLo Green, as a person and artist. Lyrically transitioning between fun, carefree moments to emotional and at times, dark content, CeeLo carved out a place for himself that never existed before. On “Sometimes” he even says “sometimes I want to rap, sometimes I want to sing” and oh man does he do both — immaculately. From luxurious, good time tracks like “I’ll Be Around”, “The One” and “My Kind of People” to the lighthearted “All Day Love Affair” on to the lyrically hard-hitting Goodie Mob-esque “Evening News”, “Scrap Metal” and “Glockapella” before finally spilling his emotions on “Sometimes” and “Die Trying”: There is no area of life and/or hip-hop that CeeLo doesn’t touch.
“They say we like the new ‘Lo. And we respect everything you’re trying to do, ‘Lo. Do what you do but just do more that you know.”
__ CeeLo on “Die Trying”
Somewhere along the way, CeeLo decided that he would not be marginalized and in order to cement himself as the genius creator he is. He would have to bring the heat in all aspects of his music. Enlisting the production help of names such as The Neptunes, Timbaland, Organized Noize, Jazze Pha and more on The Soul Machine catapulted Lo’s sound to an untouchable level. Not only did CeeLo bring all he had lyrically, he ensured that the overall sound of The Soul Machine was timeless. The instrumentation throughout the album is something to behold. Production on the album mirrors the lyricism in that it is southern and soulful as much as it is haunting and emotional. All that said, it feels damn good. There is not a moment on The Soul Machine that does not connect you to CeeLo’s sound and words.
Now CeeLo is known more for his pop single “F**k You” or his days on The Voice, a HUGE disservice to his talent and influence. For instance, what was important to you 12 years ago? Honestly, few may remember. Personally, I was already immersed in my obsession with hip-hop and CeeLo touched my soul through 18 tracks. From the age of 16 to 28 everything has changed in my life yet somehow the lessons CeeLo passed along and the deeply rooted emotional connection I made with this album still hold strong. The beauty of CeeLo Green… is The Soul Machine is the continued relevance in it’s lyricism and long standing quality in it’s production. Not many albums resonate as we continue this journey through life CeeLo Green.. is The Soul Machine is one of them. To this day I find strength and understanding in CeeLo’s words and dance like nobody is watching to the music he made. Take some time to revisit this album and let me know if you agree that it has only gotten better with time.