"Do we need to start promoting special concerts like PBS does for soulsters and rockers of yesteryear for our pioneers and rap artists that speak to our issues? Will there be a cultural civil war within the hip-hop community? Has it already begun?"
These are questions asked in a recent article by writer Fahiyme Ratcliffe about how hip hop done growed up already, creating a generational divide like we've never had to deal with before within the musical genre. These questions come amidst a crop of rappers like Jay-Z and Andre 3000 who have proclaimed hip hop juvenile and have begun reaching beyond rap to express themselves musically.
But Cee-Lo, the Beyonce of the Goodie Mob, has been screaming this for some years now. Actually, if you want to blame somebody other than Erykah Badu for Common's sudden jerk towards loud orange velvet pants mix-matched with purple knit skullcaps and crocheted scarves, you need look no further than Cee-Lo. Before Com took that Electric Circus excursion with odes to Hendrix and whatnot, Cee-Lo was covering similar terrain, in similar thrift-shop threads, with his solo debut Cee-Lo Green's Perfect Imperfections. But even in the Goodie Mob he was a weirdo, and a weirdo who was crooning and sayngin' his lyrics out if he felt the urge, way before Com and Dre 3K or -- much worse examples -- Ja Rule and Busta Rhymes.
On Cee-Lo Green ... is the Soul Machine he reaches even farther back into the recesses of black music than before. Where Perfect Imperfections gave Rick James impressions, this go-round his Al Green influences are more apparent, especially in songs like the calypso-seasoned "My Kind of People" and the tangy serenade "All Day Love Affair." Lyrically, he's still Top-10 material, in the Ego Trip sense, spitting consumer-conscious, boastful verses like "Even in black and white, my lyrics are live in living color / my flow is fluorescent, like scripture highlighted in bright yellow / and all this for $9.99, sheeit, that's wonderful / and the great thing about it, if you disagree, your money's refundable."
Actually, uh, when I tried to return my Bravehearts CD because I though it was complete bullshit, Media Play didn't seem to find that a worthy excuse to give my money back. I think all who listen will agree, though, that Cee-Lo has the most imperfectly perfected soul-ution for those who are getting too old for "in the club getting tipsy" or watching girls "shake it right thurr."
Let the civil war begin.