CeeLo Green's Next Album 'Heart Blanche' Due This Year: Exclusive
Many regrettable tweets have been sent in the nine years since Twitter launched, but few have stopped a career in its tracks like the ones CeeLo Green sent late in August. In the wake of a no-contest plea to a 2012 case alleging he had secretly slipped Ecstasy into a woman's drink, he unleashed a series of wildly inappropriate comments about rape that set off a firestorm of criticism and essentially put his career at a standstill. He sort-of apologized, then "truly and deeply" apologized, and then basically laid low.
Recent months have only seen three sparks of public activity: a 40th birthday party/benefit for the Greenhouse Foundation in Atlanta late last month, attended by Andre 3000, Big Boi and Eric Benet; a March court appearance in the same felony drug case where a very positive probation report was aired; and an actually pretty awesome album called TV on the Radio that found him singing original melodies over music from famous TV-show themes, which was available on SoundCloud for a couple of days before vanishing (more on that later).
But throughout the hiatus, Green has been at work on a new album called Heart Blanche that is nearly complete and slated for release in the fourth quarter of this year.
"We're actually in the final stages of completing his album. He's really been hard at work," Atlantic Records CEO/co-chairman Craig Kallman told Billboard Tuesday. "We've got a big, big list of songs that we've been going through, and we're kind of mixing the final songs now. We're going to be imminently figuring out his marketing plan and single release schedule, and we're looking at the fourth quarter [for release]."
Kallman said Mark Ronson, Wiz Khalifa co-star Charlie Puth, Eg White (Adele, Sam Smith), Wallpaper (Jason Derulo's "Talk Dirty") and John Hill (Eminem, Florence & the Machine) are among the dozen-plus collaborators Green has worked with during the album sessions.
"It's arguably the best piece of work he's ever done," says Green's manager, Larry Mestel of Primary Wave Entertainment, reached via phone from Israel. "It's very rare to find artists these days that focus on an album as a body of work -- most albums these days are just collections of songs, but that's not the case here." He said the LP has a unifying theme, but declined to provide more information or explain the motivation behind its title, saying Green will be available for interviews in the near future.
Mestel did, however, explain the blink-and-you-miss-it nature of the TV on the Radio album, which was widely assumed to have been taken down for copyright-violation reasons. "Actually somebody inadvertently posted the project before it was supposed to come out," he explained, "so we had to have it pulled down. It got critical acclaim during the short period of time it was up, amazing reviews, but it wasn't time for it to be released -- the plan is for it to follow Heart Blanche. And frankly, not everything was cleared, but that's different now.
"One of the songs on it will be on Heart Blanche as well; that'll be a surprise."
Asked how Green's career can recover from his Twitter rant, both Kallman and Mestel said simply, "We're going to let the music do the talking." However, a source close to the situation said, "It was very unfortunate that the tweet occurred, but that's not the person [Green] is and not what he stands for. [Hopefully] his new music will recapture the imagination of who people thought he was and who he really is."
UPDATE: A previous version of this story had the album title as Carte Blanche.