Internationally, Green is best known for his work within the R&B/hip hop duo Gnarls Barkley and their worldwide hit "Crazy" (2006), which reached number one in various singles charts worldwide including the United Kingdom. In the United States, "Crazy" reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100. The parenting album, St. Elsewhere was also a hit, reaching number one on the UK Album Charts and charting at number four on the US Billboard 200 album charts. The duo's second album, internationally less successful, The Odd Couple (2008) missed the top ten in both the UK and US, where it charted at number twelve in the United States, and eighteen in the United Kingdom.
Green, taking a break from recording with Gnarls Barkley, released the single, "Fuck You!" on August 19, 2010 as a solo recording artist, and was an instant hit, reaching the top spot in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands and charted at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100. The parent album, The Lady Killer (2010) saw similar success, peaking within the top five of the UK Album Charts and debuting within the top ten on the Billboard 200 album charts, and received a Gold certification from the BPI in the UK shortly after its release. The second single, "It's OK" was a hit in Europe, and the third single, "Bright Lights, Bigger City" has also seen similar charting success.
Cee Lo was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and attended Benjamin E. Mays High School in southwest Atlanta. Both of his parents were ordained ministers and he started his music career in his church. His father died when he was 2 years old. His mother, Sheila J. Tyler-Callaway was involved in a car crash, leaving her paralyzed. She died two years after the accident. At the time, Cee Lo was 18 years old and his career with Goodie Mob had just begun taking off. His mother's death led Cee Lo into depression, as is reflected in various songs throughout his career, including "Free" by Goodie Mob, songs on St. Elsewhere, and on The Odd Couple ("She Knows", "A Little Better"). Cee Lo also expresses his love for his mother in the song "Guess Who" from Goodie Mob's Soul Food album.
Along with Big Gipp, T-Mo, and Khujo, Cee-Lo was an original member of the Atlanta hip-hop group Goodie Mob. He is the youngest of the four. The Goodie Mob were a part of the Atlanta rap collective the Dungeon Family, which also included OutKast. The group released their debut album, Soul Food in 1995. The album received much critical praise as a pioneering record for the then emerging Southern rap scene. It featured a distinctive soulful southern sound by production team Organized Noize, who had also produced OutKast's debut Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. Cee-Lo got considerable praise for his rapping and singing of hooks, particularly on the hit singles "Cell Therapy" and "Soul Food".
The group's second album, Still Standing came out in 1998 and also received much critical praise. Its commercial performance was slightly lower than the group's previous effort however. At this time Cee-Lo foucused primarily on rapping over singing. While he did frequently sing hooks and did some singing, at this point he was a rapper first and foremost. Cee-Lo took more creative control on the group's next album, World Party. Released in 1999, this album was more of a party record than the group's previous output, getting away somewhat from their socially conscious lyricism.
During the making of the album World Party, Cee-Lo left the group to pursue a solo career under Arista and the remaining members continued to perform together under the Goodie Mob name with Koch Records. They did however collaborate in combinations in the Dungeon Family album Even in Darkness. Although the next Goodie Mob album seemed to mock Cee-Lo with its title, One Monkey Don't Stop No Show, the group expressed that it was more of a jab at Arista and the music industry as a whole.
In 2005, Cee-Lo and Big Gipp were both noted in interview. No title or release date have been given for the new project. The song "Hold On" from Big Boi of OutKast's Got Purp? Vol 2 album was the first newly recorded Goodie Mob song with all four members since World Party. (Khujo later revealed to fans at an album signing for his new album "Mercury", that the song "Hold On" was originally recorded in 1995 before Soul Food was released.)
Cee Lo Green's Arista career was short-lived, as he was dropped after only two albums due to low record sales. His first album, Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections, was heavily in the vein of various other Dungeon Family releases, with southern soul/funk/jazz backings produced solely by himself and boasting appearances by fellow Dungeon Fam members Big Gipp and Backbone. The album explored his departure from Goodie Mob and his solo growth in the song "El Dorado Sunrise (Super Chicken)", as well as socio-political issues, and showcased his singing. The album did not sell very well, but Cee Lo achieved some airplay with the single "Closet Freak".
His second Arista album, Cee Lo Green... Is the Soul Machine brought a more branched-out sound and more deeply explored southern rap music. This is evidenced by collaborations with Ludacris, T.I., and Pharrell and production from Timbaland, The Neptunes, and Jazze Pha among others. The only other Dungeon Family member that appeared on his second release was Big Rube. This album saw Cee Lo delve into other styles besides traditional rap (see Technique). Timbaland proved to be Cee Lo's single producer as their song "I'll Be Around" received mild airplay. They performed the single on an episode in the second season of Chappelle's Show. "The One" featuring Jazze Pha and T.I. was also released as a single. On the heels of the success of Gnarls Barkley, Arista released a 17-track greatest hits collection of Cee-Lo songs, Closet Freak: The Best of Cee Lo Green the Soul Machine. It features predominantly Cee Lo solo tracks and several Goodie Mob songs. His new song "What Part of Forever" has been included in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.
On August 19, 2010, Cee Lo released a single, "Fuck You!", to YouTube ahead of his planned solo album release, due to its partial leak on April 13. "Fuck You!" was an instant viral smash hit, registering over two million plays in less than a week. Two weeks later on September 1, Cee Lo released to YouTube an official music video of the song. "Fuck You" made a debut at #1 on the UK charts, notably beating out "Shame" from the recently reunited Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow. On December 1, 2010, Cee Lo received five Grammy nominations for "Fuck You!", which has been certified Gold in the United States and Denmark. The single achieved platinum status in Canada, New Zealand, and the UK; and multi-platinum status in Australia.
When discussing his most recent album, The Lady Killer (released on November 9, 2010, by Elektra Records and Roadrunner Records), Cee-Lo said: "I suppose this is a more clear, concise, consistent, conceptual, entire album. It's a complete thought, because it's written to be like a score. The album's meant to be a motion picture, you know? I've never taken that approach to doing an album before." The album was certified Gold in the UK on December 6, 2010.Green performed "Forget You", one of the two sanitized versions of his hit "Fuck You!" with Gwyneth Paltrow at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards on February 13, 2011. At the 2011 BRIT Awards a few days later, he was joined by British vocalist Paloma Faith in another duet of "Forget You". Shortly thereafter, it was announced that Green will be joining Rihanna on the North American leg of her Loud Tour in the summer of 2011.
Along with DJ Danger Mouse, Cee Lo was part of a duo called Gnarls Barkley, named after former basketball star Charles Barkley. They first met when Danger Mouse took second in a talent contest and opened for OutKast and Goodie Mob at a University of Georgia concert in 1998. Afterwards, Danger Mouse gave Cee Lo an instrumental demo tape and told him to call him if he was interested. They did not make contact again until Cee Lo was contacted to be featured in a remix of the Danger Mouse and Jemini song "What U Sittin' On?" from the album Ghetto Pop Life. They worked together again on the 2005 Danger Doom (Danger Mouse and MF Doom collaboration) album The Mouse and The Mask on the song "Benzi Box" where Cee-Lo sings the chorus.
Gnarls Barkley first collaborative album, St. Elsewhere, was released on April 24, 2006, in the UK and May 2, 2006, in the United States. St. Elsewhere entered the charts at #1 in the UK, as did the first single "Crazy". "Crazy" is the first single to go straight to #1 in the UK based on digital download sales alone and is ranked by Rolling Stone as the #1 song of the decade. The album is Cee Lo's greatest selling venture yet, having shipped over 3 million copies in the United States according to Nielsen SoundScan. A second album by Gnarls Barkley, titled The Odd Couple, was released in March 2008. Its first single was released in January called "Run (I'm a Natural Disaster)"
Cee Lo is collaborating with producer Jazze Pha to release an album called Happy Hour on Jazze’s record label. The songs "Happy Hour" (as well as the remix with Bun B, Snoop Dogg & Tone Tone), "Man of the Hour", and "Disco Bitch" (featuring The Pussycat Dolls) from the album have already been released as singles and B-sides. Jazze Pha has produced numerous hit singles with many artists, but this project is his rapping and singing debut. Cee Lo is co-producing the album with him, so both artist and producer share equal roles in vocals and production. Also, Melody Thornton confirmed that she is currently in the studio with Cee Lo working on her solo album. In 2010, he recorded a song for the Sex and the City 2 soundtrack which reached number 9 in the charts and was written by him and produced by T-Pain which is called "Language Of Love". He along with The Red Hot Chili Peppers and OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder were rumored to be appearing on British DJ Paul Oakenfold's upcoming album.
Cee Lo, along with the rest of the Goodie Mob, had a cameo in the 1999 film Mystery Men as a member of the Not So Goodie Mob. He also has done voice acting work, voicing Prime Cut Miggity-Mo' Macdaddy Gizzabang Doggy Dog Dog on the Brak Show episode "Brakstreet" in 2002, Frank and Buddy Z Class of 3000's Christmas special and as Godzilla in the Robot Chicken episode "Squaw Bury Shortcake" in 2007, and Rev. Rollo Goodlove in the Boondocks episodes "The S-Word" and "The Hunger Strike" in 2008. In 2010, he appeared in T-Pain's Freaknik: The Musical as Light Skin.
Cee Lo is currently one of the comedic judges and mentors for contestants on the singing TV show The Voice.
Cee Lo has described himself as being a "goon" in his youth and stated that he made a hobby of "torturing stray animals, beating up homeless people, and mugging pedestrians"."I was a kleptomaniac, pyromaniac, just a plain maniac," Green said in an interview on Blender.com (the article has since been removed from the blender.com site). He would later call this behavior maniacal.Cee Lo was married to Christina Johnson until they divorced in 2005. Together they have a son Kingston; and Cee Lo was a stepfather to Christina's daughters, Sierra and Kalah. Sierra was on a season 1 episode of MTV's My Super Sweet 16 as well as the follow-up MTV television series, Exiled. Kingston is featured on the intro of Cee-Lo Green... Is the Soul Machine. In 2010, at age 35, Cee Lo became a step-grandfather when his 20-year-old stepdaughter Sierra had a son.