CeeLo Green Is Making Up for Lost Time With ‘Heart Blanche’ Album
CeeLo Green made his return to music a little under a month ago when he released his latest album, Heart Blanche, on Nov. 6. After a few tumultuous years, the Goodie Mob linchpin is back with uplifting tracks like "Music to My Soul."
But the public isn't quick to forget his sordid past. In October 2012, he was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman and eventually pleaded no contest. After hopping on Twitter and offering up his definition of rape, the rapper lost his reality show The Good Life on TBS and multiple festival gigs. Fast forward to 2015, and CeeLo has since apologized about his comments, expressed his desire to return as a judge on NBC's The Voice and released a solid album after a three-year hiatus.
"I just don’t want to be misunderstood," the 40-year-old rhymer told XXL. "[I want fans to know] that I’m a genuine, loving soul and I’m thorough and I’m honest and my intentions are good."
We got CeeLo on the phone to open up about why Heart Blanche is one of his most important albums, mortality weighing on his mind and another project he has in the works for 2016. —Emmanuel C.M.
How important is Heart Blanche? Is this your most important album given the hiatus and previous incidents?
I believe that it is equally important to the other projects that I had given. I think that it's urgent and imperative due to the hiatus that I had. I do believe that we’re making up for a quite a bit of lost time and rightfully so. The anxiety that I feel is from the excitement yet another opportunity to do just that so it’s important to reconnect and reintroduce in the right light. Other projects like a Gnarls Barkley, ultimately those things were initially recreational amongst us as the artists themselves but became very important to people and popular culture, the times that they were released in and what they represented and what they accomplished. But yeah, Heart Blanche is equally important but urgent and imperative.
Was making this therapy for you?
To be totally honest, I’ve been recording roughly for the last three years. So I started recording this when Goodie Mob was recording Age Against the Machine album. We were all in Vegas and I was doing a Vegas residency there. Also I was hopping over to L.A. to record Cee Lo’s Magic Moment, which was the Christmas album. So I was impulsively recording sporadically all throughout the course of the last three years. And initially the name of the album was named Girl Power, which was a totally different context of songs of which I may have over recorded. I made like 20 or 30 songs pertaining to that.
There was a point where I wanted to amuse myself and do something out of the box. That’s when I did TV on the Radio, which was leaked illegally a little earlier in the year. It will be released formally at the top of 2016. Then also Heart Blanche ended up coming and being the most faithful part of the process because I didn’t realize that it will boil down to an album of this nature and content. So as always, it’s a muse of expression, a muse to innovate and create. It’s always therapeutic and to have that love reciprocated, it’s very peaceful in that way.
Listening to the album it’s very happy, uplifting and fun. It seems like you were having a good time making this.
You know what yeah, because I really was endowed with the emotions. It’s a very joyous and elated outlook on life and professional endeavors. Even after all the years I’ve been in the game, I’m still hungry and still got so much to contribute and offer. It’s truly a blessing to experience something of an outer body kind of capacity that it becomes. To look back and be able to address the emotional experiences and it be something that may be living, per say, that moment but something that was real to you that had a profound affect that you can address in song and it could reach somebody as they are going through the exact same experience or something similar.
There’s a connection that you make to a consumer themselves that end up being your extended human family. I do believe that music has the power to enrich the quality of life. We can all collectively cheer that way more often as opposed to just the mere entertainment factor of doing music and the industry.
Love “Race Against Time,” the lyrics are so poignant. Can you describe where you’re at at this point in your career? Do you ever think about when your career will end?
I think about that, I think about it often. As I get older, I turned 40 years old this year -- my Wikipedia says I’m 41 but I’m 40 -- and I just been doing this since I was a kid. I came into the game when I was 17 years old; OutKast’s first album [Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik]. I’m somewhat of a child prodigy. I’ve been wise beyond my years. I do look back on it and you can see there is a reoccurring theme throughout the album, going back to the childhood and the roots and retracing them and the humble beginning.
I question my mortality. No one knows when it’s going to be their day. So we do extensive amount of travel. My family takes considerable amounts of sacrifice ultimately living without me. And yes, we share the success and the spoils but it does not take the place of the time we spend away from each other. So sometimes I question do I want to do it or can I do something effective enough in a certain amount of time where I can resume a natural state. Because other than that it's really selfless; it's really missionary work because I’m out all over the world serving people. Not myself, I sacrifice myself to do it.
Is this your most introspective album to date? Was there a difficult moment when making this album?
Not necessarily, you know why? I have such a supportive large party of people involved and opinionated with their best interest in success. Everyone made this project very comfortable for me to do. They don’t give an artist three years between projects. It’s “you got six months, kid," that kind of thing. Or “I need you to drop two or three more mixtapes.” So everybody really works hard. So no, I wasn’t in any traumatized state of being or instability in any type of way. I’m 20 years in the game. I’m a soldier. I’m highly trained and disciplined but I’m human and music is the matter of the human heart. I have a healthy heart.
Listen to CeeLo Green's Heart Blanche Album