When Cee-Lo was recording his solo debut, Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections, his biggest problem was not devising a musical landscape for his eclectic opus, but finding free time while switching roles from in-studio mad scientist to loving husband and expectant father.
"There wasn't anything difficult about [recording the album]," he said. "It was actually very exciting and relaxing doing it, because I was bearing witness to all of these dreams that have come to pass. It was quite a revelation for me. My wife was pregnant at the time. All my time was accounted for."
Months later, Cee-Lo is now a father and has given birth to an LP set to drop on April 23.
"It's a sophisticated way of saying my human nature," Cee-Lo said of his album's ironic title. "I don't believe there is no coincidence in the way that I am, even down to the smallest grain. I believe that I am God's exact intention. It's that balance of virtue and vice. Trial and tribulations which begat wisdom, knowledge and understanding. [It's] just an album, array and display of different influences, that's what the album is about."
Cee-Lo gives props to a diverse group of acts Led Zeppelin, Kraftwerk, Wu-Tang and Rakim for serving as his musical muses, though their influence isn't terribly obvious on the album.
"I don't know if you'll hear them directly," he said. "I'm forging some new territory as far as sound and my musical exploration is concerned."
The first single, "Closet Freak," is an exception, at least with the mind-searing visuals he displays in the video. Cee-Lo, who wears wigs, dress clothes and a church robe in the video, conjures up visions of Earth, Wind & Fire and George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic crew.
" 'Closet Freak' for me is a stand-up-and-be-counted act of liberation and individualism. It is someone who has wandered off the beaten path. Someone who colors outside the lines, someone who insists on being in control of their own destiny. I guess that's what the world will consider me.
"In comparison to the music I've done prior to this album, it's quite different," he continued. "Far more different, not completely different, but it's an evolutionary process. It's comfortable and organic, pretty freaky and exciting."
His follow-up tune, he said, is less freakish and more autobiographical.
"The second single I have in mind is titled 'Getting Grown,' " revealed Cee-Lo, who wrote and produced the whole project himself. "It's a song about my whereabouts as we speak. The beauty of that inevitability to take it in stride. It's always been cool with me to become wiser, more in tune, at ease, comfortable in my skin. It's about being a father, husband, role model and being responsible artistically to my family and fans."
When Cee-Lo talks about the album and goes through the track list in his head like a soldier checking his ammunition, he seems a little unsure about fans who have grown to love him as part of the revolutionary hip-hop group the Goodie Mob. Will they be able to embrace him on the rock track "Live (Right Now)"? Will they welcome the funked-out R&B cut "Spend the Night in Your Mind" with open arms? More importantly, will Cee-Lo's fans accept the fact that he's following his "calling" as a crooning vocalist for most of the album, instead of dropping jewels in his poignant raps?
Running through a checklist of his songs in his mind reassures him. Not only will they love how he flips the script, but, according to the Atlanta native, he's giving them what they asked for.
"I'm singing about 85 percent of this album," he said, collecting his thoughts. "From the moment my career began I tried to take some of the sting off this album from my work with Santana. I'm usually called upon to sing a hook for someone. I am also versed at raw lyricism. I'm water, shapeless in form. I think people will be shocked, pleased, satisfied all at the same time. I don't think people would want me to do an album with just any one thing in its entirety."