When you ask Cee Lo Green what took so long concerning the oft-delayed reunion album with his group Goodie Mob, he has to take a deep breath before answering. “I definitely would have done a better job multitasking,” he admits.
Since he left the group in 2000 over creative differences after its 1999 album, “World Party,” he’s gone on to international superstardom. He became a platinum-selling pop star when he joined producer Danger Mouse to form Gnarls Barkley. His 2010 solo album, “The Lady Killer,” peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 and has sold 511,000 in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. He has also served as a coach on NBC’s “The Voice” and held down his own Las Vegas show, “Loberace.”
Even though Goodie Mob officially reunited in 2009 for a brief tour, the album that was supposed to accompany it has remained a work in progress until now. Today (Aug. 27), the group releases “Age Against the Machine,” its first album in almost 15 years. But as the group’s manager, Lawrence Mestel, sees it, it’s not really an album but more of a branding and media model.
“In the music industry, records are kind of dead,” says Mestel, CEO of Primary Wave, the management and branding company that is handling the project and has managed Green and the group since 2010. “So the idea of Goodie Mob is audiovisual, not just recorded music. It’s branding, television, bigger than just putting a record out.”
The initial rollout started in 2009 with TV performances at the BET Hip-Hop Awards and on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.” It stalled in 2010 when Green released The Lady Killer, featuring his infectious single “Fuck You,” and then signed on to become a coach on “The Voice” the following year. The group picked the ball back up in 2012 by premiering its single “Fight to Win” on “The Voice.” The song was also heavily featured in promo ads for the 2012 NBA playoffs. That was followed by a performance at the Billboard Music Awards honoring Beastie Boys. The act also beat Jay Z to the punch in making the song available for download on the Samsung Galaxy SIII smartphone that year.
“We’re showing that you can do other things with your brand if your brand stands out internationally,” Goodie Mob member Big Gipp says. “We can do music for commercials, movies, everything we want to do, but still have to do with music. Working with a branding company hooks us up with everything going on in the world.”
Even though Goodie Mob is signed to Atlantic, and “Age Against the Machine” will be distributed through Warner, the group is independently promoting the album. Mestel reveals that group members are spending their own money to market the project, thus allowing 100% creative control, from picking the songs and singles to timing the release and what companies they want to align themselves with. “It’s not subject to major-label scrutiny,” he says.
Green and the group will also be inviting themselves into American households early next year with a new reality show, “The Cee Lo Life,” which will air on TBS. Cameras will follow Goodie Mob around Los Angeles and Atlanta, allowing glimpses into the members’ personal lives.
“I hate to call it a ‘reality show,'” Green says. “It’s the first of its kind. It showcases how we carry on. There is a sense of humor to it, and it will show us in a way people have never seen us.”
Goodie Mob will tour in support of the album starting Aug. 24 in Washington, D.C., and punctuated in Atlanta at the One Music Fest on Sept. 14. There will also be a special performance inside of the JetBlue airline terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Sept. 9. TV appearances on “Fallon,” “The Howard Stern Show” and “The View” are also on the schedule.
Once the tour is over, Green plans on returning to “The Voice,” finishing up his fourth solo album (currently titled “Girl Power”), hooking up with Danger Mouse for another Gnarls Barkley album and resuming his Las Vegas residency.
“We’re working hard as hell,” he says.
(Story by Maurice Garland. Video interviews by Erika Ramirez.)