May 30, 2009
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No contemporary soul artist has embraced depression, mental illness, and the Afro-freak legacy of Sun Ra and George Clinton with the frankness, ardor, and musical chops of Thomas Calloway, aka CEE-LO GREEN (born 1974). As a member of The Goodie Mob in the ’90s, Cee-Lo — the son of two ordained ministers — helped make R&B gangsta. He’s since combined hip hop and soul with garage rock and psychedelia, both as a solo artist and as one half (with DJ Danger Mouse) of Gnarls Barkley. The duo’s best-known gimmick — appearing in different complementary costumes for each concert or photo — combines the outré power of drag with the geeky fun of a comic convention. It’s hard to pick which costume combo is my favorite: the hair-metal outfits of Mötley Crüe, Cee-Lo’s glowering Lex Luthor, or, in a jokey take on Fleetwood Mac, Danger Mouse posing as a groom to Cee-Lo’s thickly muscled and tattooed bride.
HIP HOP ON HILOBROW: HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM series (25 posts about old-school hip hop) | DJ Kool Herc | Gil Scott-Heron | Slick Rick | Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels | Afrika Bambaataa | Biz Markie | U-God | Slug | Adam Yauch | Ghostface Killah | DJ Run | Flavor Flav | Scott La Rock | GZA | Schoolly D | Aesop Rock | Terminator X | Notorious B.I.G. | Melle Mel | Doug E. Fresh | Kool Keith | Rick Rubin | Rakim | Ol’ Dirty Bastard | Madlib | Talib Kweli | Danger Mouse | Kool Moe Dee | Chuck D | Dizzee Rascal | RZA | Cee-Lo Green | Best Ever Clean Hip Hop
READ MORE about men and women born on the cusp between the Reconstructionist Generation (1964-73) and the Revivalist Generation (1974-83).