Reviewed by Matt Dentler, Fri., April 2, 2004
Cee-LoCee-Lo Green Is the Soul Machine (Arista) Contrary to the title of his second solo album, Cee-Lo Green is more than simply a "soul machine." This former Goodie Mob MC is equal parts poetry engine and Southern hip-hop blender. He sings, he raps, he recites, and he claims (in "I'll Be Around"), "It's kind of hard being inconspicuous when my flow is fuckin' ridiculous." A head-spinning psychedelic hip-hopus, Cee-Lo Green Is the Soul Machine marries sly crooning with hardcore spitting. On one hand, it's an eclectic fusion. On the other, it's a jumble of meandering styles. For every Neptunes-pumping confection like "The Art of Noise," there's a tedious track like "I Am Selling Soul." Soul and hip-hop make great bedfellows, but even in the hands of the ridiculously talented, they can shoot for the stars and only come up with dust. Cee-Lo may be too talented for his own good. If labelmates OutKast had condensed Speakerboxxx/The Love Below into one LP, this is the kind of mixed bag it likely would've created. Cee-Lo's scope and depth of vision aren't as fully realized here as they were on 2002's Top 10 lister Cee-Lo Green & His Perfect Imperfections. Meanwhile, moments like hardcore club hopper "Scrap Metal" and the sunny pop of "Let's Stay Together" make Soul Machine a Rube Goldberg trip that yields only positive energy.