Cee-Lo, with the Aaries and Musiq

Saturday, May 11; Pageant

The OutKast, we know. They're big. One of 'em dresses funny, and, for commercially oriented rappers, they're out there. The Goodie Mob are members of the same Atlanta collective, the Dungeon Family, and are just as gone but are overshadowed. That's a shame -- they've got as much integrity and finesse and wit and intellect as the other brothers; they just haven't made their "Ms. Jackson" yet.

On Goodie Mob records, one buggy helio-voice rises above (literally) -- it's Cee-Lo, who kind of sounds like Flip Wilson's Geraldine character. Cee's philosophy can be boiled down to a line from the Mob's "Distant Wilderness": "You can't have no love without the trust/And no trust can come without communication/And you can't communicate if you ain't got shit to say."

Cee-Lo's solo debut, which he produced, is called Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections and has a gospel intensity. His style is urgent and flicker-fast; he stutter-spits his thoughts in one line, then stretches the next into a song as though he's the Reverend James Cleveland in the midst of a holy moment. You can hear it on the revelatory "El Dorado Sunrise (Super Chicken)," which has at its foundation a couple of pipe-organ chords that drill a quick melody into the beat. The entire record is smart and textured, filled with enough pop melodies and horn arrangements to appeal to the commercial segment of the public but without the thug posturing, which Cee decries at every opportunity. Granted, his Janis Joplin imitation sucks, but we'll forgive him for that.

 
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