Gnarls Barkley’s Cee-Lo Green The Exclaim! Questionnaire

Gnarls Barkley’s Cee-Lo Green The Exclaim! Questionnaire
What are you up to?
Quite a few tricks up my sleeve but Gnarls Barkley is probably it.

What are your current fixations?
Y’know, I’m kind of a "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” type of person so I still like all those things I’ve always liked. I like lamb chops and chicken alfredo. No Country for Old Men — I just think it was time for another classic…I don’t know if I would call it a gangsta film but it’s pretty gangsta. We just needed one of those for our generation.

Why do you live in Atlanta?
Because I was born there and all my family is there and I just haven’t found anywhere else I’d rather be — besides Switzerland.

Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art:
The Sly and the Family Stone box set that was given to me by Danger Mouse for Christmas.

What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
I remember when I was a kid we went to see Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5’s Victory tour. Yeah, there was quite a hysteria going on in Atlanta, Georgia. My mother took us out to the airport and allowed us to see Michael and the rest of the brothers standing on top of what was then Hartsfield Airport, and y’know, that was pretty good; I’ll never forget that.

What have been your career highs and lows?
I guess the high is having one, and one for this long, and the low is not having one at one point in time.

What’s the meanest thing ever said to you before, during, or after a gig?
Well, around the time of Goodie Mob, I used to speak a lot. Like I had about 15 to 20 minutes of dialogue, just talking to the audience, and one time this little girl just told me that I talk too much. "Shut up! You talk too much!” I was like "Damn!”

What should everyone shut up about?
Ignorance and nonsense. Shut up if you don’t have anything good to say.

What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
That I’m a little or a lot passive aggressive. It’s a little unfair man, to myself and to others. It’s just like, they don’t know in enough time that I have a problem with something. Then they find out about it in the most peculiar ways. I like the fact that I’m very generous and sincere with music. I like the fact that I don’t laugh.

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Waking up.

What advice should you have taken, but did not?
Staying in school and getting an education as a backup plan in case music didn’t work for me.

What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed, and have you?
Out of the band: lack of ability or inability to work as a team player. And in bed… you say one thing wrong boy, I’m talkin’ about anything, you better get up outta my bed. If there’s any miscommunication at all, get up outta my bed, sit back down on the sofa and talk about it first. I don’t play around the bed.

What do you think of when you think of Canada?
Beautiful women. A very calm and clean, tranquil place from my take on it. I dunno, it seems like…(laughs) I hate to say it but it almost seems like Superman lives there or something. It just seems like these big buildings but it doesn’t seem like there’s a bunch of people. It just seems very vast but quiet, like Metropolis or something. Am I right? It just seems so beautifully industrial. I thought that’s what I saw.

What was the first LP/cassette/CD/eight track you ever bought with your own money?
The first one was MC Shan’s Down By Law full-length album and the 12-inch for Public Enemy’s "Rebel Without a Pause” with "My Uzi Weighs a Ton” b-side.

What was your most memorable day job?
I got hired and fired on the same day. My mother used to own a bridal shop in a mall in Atlanta and I was befriended by an older gentleman — kinda young, but older — who would see me in the mall a lotta the time. I asked him for a job and he was gonna pay me out of his pocket to work in the stockroom. But I got into some trouble in the mall. I was with a partner of mine who got caught shoplifting before I could get it together, so I made it down there too late. I was at the mall almost every day after school so, y’know, it’s pretty tempting and plus I was quite a klepto at that time anyway. To be totally honest, we both was shoplifting but he got caught. Yeah yeah, that was pretty memorable because of the disappointment that was on his face. I was just like, "Damn,” know what I’m sayin’? Him believing in me really, y’know, I felt like I was making a transition and I really appreciated that, so yeah, that’s that story.

How do you spoil yourself?
There’s nothing that I won’t get if I want it, if it’s within my means. I don’t really desire an awful lot. I do like cars so I have quite a few cars. [Counting] I have seven now, from old-school to jeeps to sedans, yeah, I got quite a few cars. If I want it, y’know, I’ll get it.

If I wasn’t playing music I would be…
A would be killer.

What do you fear most?
I fear God because I do believe that talent and inner vision and aspiration — all those things are bestowed upon you. They can very well stem from something circumstantial and you do have to recognise that. I was able to recognise what my talents and interests were kinda early on and that’s a skill, you know what I mean? It’s an ability to not just see but recognise and accept and obey the duty of something. Not only is it a privilege of course — it’s a duty, y’know. So, I really want to be pleasing in the sight of my maker because it’s given me an opportunity to redeem myself, know what I’m sayin’? So, I fear God in that way, in like of ever severing me from that ability to do so. I fear harm’s way for my family and I also fear what I could become if threatened or left with no choice. Like, if there’s a monster in my closet?

What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
I think it relates back to the difference between being seen and being recognised. My thing with a woman is never to create something between us, only to acknowledge something that is. So, if we have a connection, it goes without saying, when it’s truly electric and kindred between us two, it almost feels like something else that’s a blessing, a privilege, and a duty. Like, you know what I’m sayin,’ because it belongs to us and it’s mine and it’s ours. So, the fact that you feel you’ve been granted favour from on high just to have a simple interaction, opportunity, or experience with someone is pretty gratifying in that way, because it just doesn’t happen all of the time. And I mean that in the simplest terms as well, not just getting married or going with someone but just like for someone to have the right attitude about being open and intimate with you. Know what I’m sayin’? A woman has to make that discernment and decision so like I feel like I’m not only being seen but recognised because women have to go through quite a bit of sorting that out, know what I’m sayin’? So when you’re recognised in that way, it makes me want to prove them right about choosing me in that way because I’m not very aggressive as far as that’s concerned. I don’t necessarily know how to be aggressive halfway, you know what I mean?

What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
I have a few of ‘em man. I had one time where somebody was walking down the street with me with their fingertip on my shoulder saying, "You’ll never guess who I’m walking down the street with. I’m walking down the street with Cee-Lo Green. I’m touchin’ him, I’m touchin’ him right now.” Then I had somebody where, y’know I’m very observant of people watching me. I’m kinda used to it. So, I watched these guys and at least I can say that they tried to respect my table, as I was eating with my family. When I got into the restroom, I saw them make a move for the restroom too. So, maybe they woulda caught me by the sink or the hand dryer. But instead, he talked to me with his arms perched up on the divider between the urinals, as I was using the restroom man. Yeah, he put his chin on his arms and stood there and talked to me man. But you know what? I saw that he tried to respect my space but with that being said, if it didn’t bother him, it didn’t really bother me. I’m not, y’know, that inadequate.

Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
That’s a good one. Maybe I’ll invite Bill Gates over and talk some business, and then sweet talk him. I think serving some soul food wouldn’t hurt him. Some fried turkey or something. I bet he hadn’t had no fried turkey before and it’s great!

What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
Well, this is a song that’s been ringing in my head lately; the Animals’ 
”Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.”

From his Goodie Mob days to Gnarls Barkley, Atlanta rapper, singer and producer Cee-Lo Green has struck a remarkable balance between inner angst and the welcoming warmth of his gorgeous voice. Pairing with producer Danger Mouse for 2006’s St. Elsewhere, Cee-Lo’s superstar turn with Gnarls Barkley spawned songs (including omnipresent hit, "Crazy”) with bubbling, gospel/soul soundtracks and introspective, almost paranoid lyricism.

Highly anticipated follow-up The Odd Couple has been branded "dark” across the board, with Danger edging closer to Cee-Lo’s artistic outlook. "It’s not so dark that you couldn’t see yourself in it or see your way through it,” Cee-Lo clarifies. "Let’s just say that there is a full moon out tonight. At some point during the day, the sun is gonna set and, quite normally, I anticipate darkness every day — I look at it in those terms.”

In another sense, the record is a purposefully political wake-up call. "It’s not so overt or outright, but when I listened back to it, it felt like an out-of-body experience,” Cee-Lo says. "At that point, it doesn’t belong to me anymore; it’s ours now. And I suggest we stop living in denial and start to really address and alert each other of these conditions. If people think it’s dark, then yeah, but just know that it walks amongst you.”