The Lady Killer
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2010 release from the veteran rapper and Gnarls Barkley member, his first solo work in more than six years. The Lady Killer sees the endlessly inventive singer/writer/rapper continuing to push Hip Hop and Soul's creative envelope, this time working with a star-studded cast of producers that includes Salaam Remi (Nas, Amy Winehouse), Jack Splash (Alicia Keys, Missy Elliot, Jamie Foxx), and Fraser T. Smith (Nelly Furtado, James Morrison, Ellie Goulding).
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After an odd, manic introduction sets the tone ("The Lady Killer Theme (Intro)), the synthesizer/string-laden/neo-soul produced "Bright Lights Bigger City" proves to be a smart, soulful opener. The strings are lovely and truly heighten the `1970s' sound which Green is trying to convey. The `hook' is solid, if simple and Green's vocals are exceptional. On viral hit and first single "F$%& You," Green has crafted a `once-in-a lifetime' novelty cut that greatly heightens his somewhat underrated profile. The track has surprising been embraced despite its profanity laden songwriting. In all respects, it is a `five-star' performance with superb production work (think 1960s/70s), catchy, strong songwriting, and a `killer' performance by Cee-Lo.
"Wildflower" is enjoyable as well, if less of a `victory lap' than "F$%& You." The hook of "Wildflower" is the highlight of the track, finding Green singing: "wonderful wildflower, oh open up, let me see... share your sunshine with me." "Bodies" is a true highlight, featuring superb production work with a full bass line underpinning the whole production work (not to mention superbly produced drums). Easily one of my favorite tracks, the hook is unmistakable here: "They said that chivalry is dead, then why is her body in my bed/ at sunrise morning papers read, they found a body in my bed!" "Love Gun," featuring Lauren Bennett follows, though the track itself seems a bit too indulgent and manic for even Green's own good. Bennett's guest vocals are assertive and captivating, but you cannot help but feel as a listener perhaps it's the slightest bit much. The track is best when Cee Lo performs, meaning Bennett never overshadows Green in the least.
"Satisfied," like "Love Gun" is solid, though not `valedictory.' Green's lower register is exploited here and while it sounds ok, all listeners will be happier when Green ascends into his golden, shining upper register. "I Want You" atones for any missteps as of yet with absolutely gorgeous vocals by Green and superb production work. "Cry Baby" may be less memorable than "I Want You," but it is potent and well constructed. "Fool For You" featuring Philip Bailey is better, with the beautiful sounds of 1970s soul pervading the production work. Cee Lo's lead vocals here are fantastic, particularly his upper register.
"It's OK" and "Old Fashioned" are exceptional moments. On "It's OK," the vocal production is stunning with Cee Lo's vocals sounding `clear as a bell.' As always the hook is exceptional ("It's ok, to say that you love you, I think of you, still thinking of you..."). On second single "Old Fashioned" Cee Lo really gets to show of his distinct vocals. "No One's Gonna Love You" proves to be a superb closing track that is brief in duration. The reprise of "The Lady Killer Theme" (this time an outro) closes the album.
Essentially, The Lady Killer is a superb effort and one that stands out from the more `generic' R&B of 2010 easily. I wish more artists would embrace being `unique' like Cee Lo, Janelle Monáe, and Erykah Badu; it would make for a much more interesting music scene in the R&B world. 4 stars.
Better known for his work with producer Danger Mouse and their band Gnarls Barkley, Cee-Lo Green's trademark vocals have been all over pop radio since their debut release, St. Elsewhere, in 2006. Now a near household name, Cee-Lo Green offers up fourteen tracks of powerful soul with its own theme music as the intro and outro sharing their name with the album, "The Lady Killer."
In August, the album's first single, "F**k You," became the feel-good hit of the late summer, dominating YouTube views and radio waves with the edited version, "Forget You." While the single easily stands above the rest in both musical and lyrical fun, The Lady Killer would have no problem finding success without it as there are plenty of entertaining tracks. The synth-heavy "Bright Lights Bigger City," the album's first full length track, is upbeat, energetic, and ready for dance clubs while just a few tracks later, "Bodies" shows of Cee-Lo's more soulful side. While the album does an excellent job balancing styles, moods, and tempos, Green's voice remains consistently powerful.
Although Danger Mouse's backing tracks will be missed by Gnarls Barkley fans, The Lady Killer is actually the most consistently solid album Cee-Lo Green has ever been a part of. Even the record's closing track, a cover of Band of Horses' "No One's Gonna Love You," highlights Green's ability to blend genres simply by opening his mouth. He is truly a unique talent that is worthy of the praise he receives and The Lady Killer is sure to receive a lot of it.
Similar Artists: Outkast, The Roots, Gnarls Barkley
Track Suggestion: "F**k You"
* Bright Lights Bigger City
* No Ones Gonna Love You