Cee-Lo Reflects On Complex Career: ‘I’m A Book, Not A Magazine’

'It is a continuation of the same revolution I have always talked about,' he tells MTV News of his many genres.

The magical voice of [artist id="1163841"]Cee-Lo[/artist] translates whether he’s singing songs that make immediate impact on pop radio like his latest single, “F— You,” or records that capture the hearts of the hip-hop community like his feature on Rick Ross’ “Tears of Joy.” For the Atlanta legend, he said singing is a perfect way to release his pain and that he will continue to show his versatility.

“It’s simple, man. Me and Ross got history. We holla,” Lo said about the latter record. “On the few occasions that we’ve met, it’s always love and admiration. To do the record, of course it would have to been the right record. Who would have known ‘Tears of Joy’ would have been so immediate and apparently urgent of a song? It reverberated immediately. I’m never too quick to say, ‘This is a hit record.’ I don’t even know how to talk like that. Each artistic endeavor of mine has always been an act of faith. I don’t really know. I’m only doing what my heart and gut tells me to do. But I already know what comes out my mouth is different. Then again, there’s something so signature about the ‘Tears of Joy’ joint. It reminds you — especially my fellow Southerners — it reminds you of a Goodie Mob record.”

When Lo ran into Ross earlier this year in L.A., the Miami kingpin told him about the song he wanted to collaborate on. Ross sent the song off, and in two weeks, it was completed.

“He had verses on it already,” Cee-Lo said. “But [the words] ‘Tears of Joy’ is all I needed. Ross did Ross, which is great. [The song] represents the contrast/contradiction which is life.”

Cee-Lo said “Tears of Joy” almost represents a “homecoming” for him in the eyes of some fans to his soulful roots, first introduced with Outkast and his group Goodie Mob. Cee-Lo also argued that he’s actually never left those musical beginnings; he’s just simply ventured out and experimented on such projects as Gnarls Barkley’s two LPs to show his peers and the fans how far hip-hop could go and to express his different sides.

“It is a continuation of the same revolution I have always talked about,” he insisted. “It’s the fact that people don’t know me completely. I’m just now telling you more about myself. I’m a book, not a magazine.”

Lo’s next album, Lady Killer, comes out later this year, and he’s also working on the next album from the Mob.

“The solo album is something completely different,” he revealed. “I got that mixtape out there, Stray Bullets, which is a prequel to the album Lady Killer. That’s got nothing to do with what I do with Goodie, besides quality. But Goodie, man, that’s what ‘Tears of Joy’ represents. I hope people can see the bigger picture. None of that is lost in me. I ain’t got so rich and famous that I separated from the soul. That’s me, that’s what I’m about. It’s on the tip of my tongue at all times. It’s people wanting that and needing that, that’s all the incentive I need. That’s what makes my life worth living, especially when I remember there was time I ain’t have nothing constructive to say. So any time I can do it, I feel like I’m further ensuring good favor in my rights of passage, being pleasing in the sight of my maker. It truly means that much to me. My pain runs deep. All of that is behind what I got to sing.”

For anyone wondering when Cee-Lo will make a full-throttle return to rapping, he said it will be on the Goodie Mob reunion LP, which doesn’t have a release date yet.

“When people be asking why I don’t rap no more, it’s not that. … It’s gotta come,” he explained. “I’mma isolate that to the Goodie Mob. That’s all I care to rap about. Rappin’ is like a contact sport. It’s an attitude. So the only thing I get angry about is the calls [about me not rapping]. That makes me wanna fight. As far as somebody stepping on my shoes, because we standing too close to each other, I don’t have that problem. Nobody does what I do. I don’t have no conflict. So I can do what eases my mind. I do believe that music is not meant to agitate; it’s meant to soothe the savage beast. I’m one of them beasts. It soothes me. I’m impressed, because I can separate myself from it and give credit to a higher power. It ain’t really me. To be able to sing is a blessing to me. But really, you hurt so bad, sometimes I can’t even rap about it. I gotta sing. That’s why it always hurts a little bit no matter what I’m singing. There’s pain in it. As far as Goodie goes, I got that. That’s all I’m trying to tell y’all.”

Lady Killer has a tentative release date in December.

Do you prefer Cee-Lo the rapper or Cee-Lo the singer? Let us know in the comments!