With all the mediocrity flooding hip-hop right now, the genre could surely use some creative individuality. Enter Cee-Lo -- the melodic member of the Goodie Mob -- who stepped out April 23 with a solo

With all the mediocrity flooding hip-hop right now, the genre could surely use some creative individuality. Enter Cee-Lo -- the melodic member of the Goodie Mob -- who stepped out April 23 with a solo debut on Arista, "Cee-Lo Green & His Perfect Imperfections."

In a slight departure from Goodie Mob's trademark sound, Cee-Lo offers a unique combination of hip-hop, soul, gospel, and rock on the 21-track set.

"I've always kept in mind what I wanted to do as an individual," Cee-Lo says. "I'm broad in influence and rich in possibility. So, for lack of a medium and being engulfed in what Goodie Mob was doing, I was unable to do that. I felt now was the time to express myself, so this album was a law of inevitability. Fortunately, I'm part of a collective that thrives on individualism."

When the opportunity for a solo set presented itself, the Atlanta native was prepared: He had already completed the album before he signed the deal.

The set's first offering is the funk-filled single "Closet Freak," which was inspired by the rapper's barber, Menta. "I wrote the song for him," says Cee-Lo. "But it ended up being about me and how I see myself coming out with this creative vocal act of individualism in the midst of marketplace monotony."

"Everything Cee-Lo is doing is original," Arista executive VP Lionel Ridenour says. "He's giving a whole new meaning to creative expression from a hip-hop foundation."

With years of experience under his belt, Cee-Lo has a unique perspective on this business and where he fits in it.

"Corporate America has to be able to consider it [an album] comparable to something else in the marketplace so they can fit it into a category to be monitored and solicited as such," he says. "I don't believe in titles or limitations, but after 10 years, I have become a professional who has become industry-wise. My plight is to establish a genre for myself and artists like me who have wandered off the beaten path."





Excerpted from the April 27, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.

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