Top 5 Cee Lo Rap Verses
By J. Locke
From the 2011 BET Awards to the 2011 New Year’s Eve Countdown, and, most recently, at the Super Bowl halftime show, Cee Lo increasingly has been getting his Liberace on (and he’s about to make it official). His sequin moo moo swag has been so prominent that some heads may forget just how much of a dope lyricist he is. This motivated me to dig around for my favorite Cee Lo verses and boil them down to a top-five list. I dare you to disagree:
Thought Process (Goodie Mob – Soul Food)
This is a class track from Goodie’s first LP. In an era where “keep it real” was the phrase that paid, Cee Lo was one of the few who openly dispelled the myth that rap fame equaled instant wealth quipping, “you might see a nigga on tv, but it’s almost like I’m rapping for free, that little money be gone, got dammit I’m grown, gotta help keep the heat and the lights on.” Further to the point, Cee Lo tell us that he wants to “lie to you sometimes but [he] can’t, [he] wanna tell you it’s all good, but it ain’t.” Truth and soulful delivery make this verse one to remember. Note: This song features one of Andre 3000’s dopest verses of all time.
Die Trying (Cee Lo Green – Cee Lo Green is the Soul Machine)
This motivational manifesto of self-reliance and perseverance is a combo sung/rapped track. It was put out at a point where Cee Lo wasn’t selling very many records and may have been feeling pressure to change in an attempt to garner more commercial success. Still, Cee Lo tells us that “it’s true, I’m in a box with a view, but you still wanna gate me, I could be a pretty good thug, but it wouldn’t compare to a great me.” This was a pivotal track for a pivotal point in his career. It’s this kind of resolve that’s, for better or worse made Cee Lo a household name.
I Refuse Limitation (Goodie Mob – Still Standing) (dope video to go along with the track)
Cee Lo spits the biography of inner city youth torn between trapping and paying taxes. The hook aptly calls it “inner city blues” and victoriously proclaims that “I just can’t settle for these streets, shawty, I refuse.” In his verse, Cee Lo breaks down the struggle all the way to the amount of his check, after taxes, at McDonald’s, where he chose to work over selling drugs because he’d, “rather struggle on my feet than to live on my knees.” True to life, the story ends with the character regressing back to the streets for a life of crime and ultimately landing in jail. “And now my woman’s got to take on a man’s responsibilities.” Teaching, not preaching.
The Experience (Goodie Mob – Still Standing)
It’s rare that a rap collective features just one member on a song, but when it happens the right way, it’s magical. (Method Man on Enter the 36 immediately comes to mind). The Experience is no different. Cee Lo gives his take on the oft-debated “n-word,” masterfully proclaiming, “you ain’t a nigga cause you black, you a nigga cause how you act.” As the first track on Still Standing, it sets the tone on what has proven to be an incredible album.
Cell Therapy (Goodie MOB – Soul Food)
This is a track that helped put the South on the map in the rap game and introduced the world to Cee Lo. The genius here is how Cee Lo and the rest of the Goodie Mob spit over a funky track with a hook that anyone on the political spectrum could relate to, “pow, nobody now.” (NRA folks, here’s looking at you). Still, Cee Lo sneaks in introspective lyrics that undoubtedly spurned folks to become more conscious of of themselves and their situations in life: “my mind won’t allow me to not be curious, my folk don’t understand so they don’t take it serious.”
In Due Time (Outkast featuring Cee Lo – Soul Food Original Soundtrack)
One of my favorite songs of all time. On this track, Cee Lo verbalized the brand of no nonsense theology that I maintain to this day: “but even when you pray, the next day you gotta try, can’t wait for nobody to fall down out the sky.” I excluded it because I decided that it was sung and not rapped (although I think there is room for argument). When I had it ranked, it was #2. I would have rated it #1, but Andre 3000’s verse on the track outshined all others (what’s new). I could not, in good conscious, deem it a #1 career verse when it wasn’t the best verse on the song. Moot points, but it had to be said.
Goodie Bag (Goodie Mob – Soul Food) (Freestyle)
Fighting (Goodie Mob – Soul Food) (Spoken Word)