Cee-Lo Green Is the Soul Machine
, the second album from soulful Atlanta rapper Cee-Lo confirms that, in the aftermath of Outkast's genre-defining Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
, hip-hop is in the mood to totally bug out. As a founder member of the Goodie Mob, Cee-Lo was one of Andre and Big Boi's closest contemporaries throughout the 90s. His debut solo album, 2002's Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections
was a slightly patchy affair, but on ...The Soul Machine
, this falsetto-high crooner is back, this time bolstered by an all-star cast that includes Pharrell from the Neptunes, Timbaland and Ludacris. Like Outkast, Cee-Lo's greatest skill is his ability to brew good-vibe Daisy Age hip-hop, liberated party funk and classic soul into a bubbling, fermenting whole without watering down the distinctive flavour of any of his esoteric influences. The excellent "The Art of Noise" is an obvious starting point, Cee-Lo's cartoonish preacher drawl pitted against gospel choruses and slick Neptunes percussion. But perhaps it's the slower, more soulful numbers that provide the album's backbone: see "All Day Love Affair", or "My Kind Of People", a euphoric piano-and-brass number that recalls the lazy groove of Sly and the Family Stone's "Family Affair". This is highly recommended to anyone blissed out by The Love Below
, or with a taste for the sweet sound of the Dirty South. --Louis Pattison
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