The title track of this collection “Closet Freak” was the only single (and video) from Cee-Lo’s solo album debut, but is accompanied here by another five tracks from the album: “Young Man (Sierra’s Song),” “Getting’ Grown,” “A Thug’s Concern … (break)… One for the Road,” “Bass Head Jazz,” and “Under the Influence.”
These songs, especially “Closet Freak,” are the first moments that Cee-Lo seems to have felt comfortable enough to spread his wings and truly allow his soul to express himself. Luckily for us, that soul is a very soulful and funky one.
Of particular notice is the dreamy “Bass Head Jazz,” which is more of a sonic hallucination than a proper song. On and on it swells and swaggers with the knowledge that there are some people that will find themselves listening to it and not understanding anything at all — and that’s okay.
From Cee-Lo’s second album comes “I’ll Be Around,” “Evening News,” “I Am Selling Soul,” “Living Again,” “Childz Play,” “The Art of Noise,” “The One,” and “Sometimes”
Present on these tracks is the same sense of adventure and sonic mischief that were on tracks from earlier in his recording career, but these songs offer proof of something that is rare in today’s music scene; signs of maturity.
In today’s world of cookie-cutter bands, songs, and radio station formats, very rarely does an artist get the chance to grow and mature and have a proper career. Often, instead, they are encouraged to try and repeat whatever earned them success in their past. That’s if they had success immediately, of course. The bands and artists that do not find commercial success that they are able to Xerox for another few albums, usually are shoved right off the music shelves for the “next big thing.”
Cee-Lo, perhaps thanks to his awareness that his talent is something special and unique, seems to have refused to allow that to happen to himself or his music. So, instead of “more of the same old same old” from Cee-Lo, listeners are treated to lush sonic roller coasters of funky soulfulness.
The easiest way to explain his sound is for someone to imagine if James Brown and Prince had a love-child, and then only allowed him to listen to Rick James, Parliament Funkadelic, and a whole lot of Afrika Bambaataa while growing up.