Cee Lo and three guys from Atlanta—Khujo, T-Mo and Big Gipp—came together in Atlanta, GA in 1991 to form what is now remembered as one of the most influential Southern hip-hop groups of all-time. Promoting a message of thought provoking change with insightful lyrics, the Atlanta-based rap quartet released their debut album, Soul Food, in 1995. As a reflection of significant community issues portrayed through song, the group’s debut LP reached No. 8 on Billboard’s R&B Albums chart. Over time, the album went on to sell more than 500,000 copies.
Three years later, Cee Lo and his counterparts released their sophomore album, Still Standing, which also went on to sell over 500,000 units. The project went to the top of the Billboard charts, reaching No. 2 on the R&B Albums chart and No. 6 on the Billboard 200 chart. Since then, the group has released two more albums—World Party (1999) and One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show (2004)—and is rumored to be working on their first album in almost a decade.
Solo Music Career
In 2002, Cee Lo decided to take his music career solo after being offered a deal with Arista Records by former label head L.A. Reid, and released his first album, Cee Lo Green & His Perfect Imperfections. The project never went commercial and had low record sales, but is remembered for its unforgettable single, “Closet Freak.” Two years later, the Atlanta MC released his second project, Cee Lo Green…Is The Soul Machine, but after both albums’ low sales Cee Lo soon after separated from his deal with Arista.
Although the Soprano rapper didn’t put out another album for six years—The Lady Killer (2010)—he made a come back as only a true star could. Partnering with Elektra, Cee Lo took over airwaves nationwide with the release of the album’s first single, “F*ck You (Forget You),” while simultaneously topping nine of Billboard’s charts including Pop Songs, Radio Songs, Hot 100, Billboard Canadian Hot 100 and Digital Songs. The song went five-times platinum; was used on television shows and movies such as The Muppets, Glee, The 3D Concert Movie, The X Factor and more; and featured on the interactive dance game, Just Dance 3. Six months after the single’s release, the vibrant MC was performing his international hit during the 2011 NBA All-Star game. As of December 2011, the album featuring his successful hit has sold more than 450,000 copies.
More recently, Cee Lo released his first holiday album, Cee Lo’s Magic Moment (October 2012), which features timeless holiday classics such as “White Christmas,” “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “Silent Night.” The LP peaked at No. 4 on Billboard’s R&B Albums chart, and No. 6 on the Top Holiday Albums chart.
In addition to Cee Lo’s vocal talents and musical siege, the MC properly known as Thomas DeCarlo Callaway found his knack for television in 2011 when becoming one of four judges on NBC’s harmonic reality show, The Voice. Cee Lo teamed up with three other musicians—Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton—and the multimillion-dollar network to search for and mentor the next rising star.
The Voice is now in its third season, and Goodie Mob’s former front man is said to be bringing in approximately $75,000 per episode. While that may sound like plenty to the public, his per-episode salary is one-third of Christina’s pay, which is said to be $225,000 per show.
While Cee Lo is currently in the middle of the musical reality show’s third cycle, NBC announced that he will be replaced by R&B singer, Usher Raymond for the fourth season of the show. The Southern rapper is planning to use to the time away from the show to produce new music and work on a scripted comedy for the peacock network.
Cee Lo has certainly grown his empire throughout the years, and he has the endorsements to prove it. Taking heed of the success of the hip-pop star’s chart-topping single, “F*ck You (Forget You),” Cee Lo’s management team, Primary Wave, lined the mainstream-star-in-the-making up with major companies including 7-Up, Duracell, Absolut Vodka and Pretzel M&M’s.
When asked about his marketable and growing success, the singing MC told The New York Times, “There’s security in being a brand; there’s certainty in being a brand,” Cee Lo said. “McDonald’s is a brand. And when you get your fix for a Big Mac, where do you go? There’s only one place you can go for a Big Mac, and that’s big McDonald’s. But my brand has a broader horizon, because my brand is, ‘Whatever you think you want, I just may be able to give it to you.’ ”
Now, just more than two years after the release of the popular hit, Cee Lo is adding yet another endorsement deal to his brand. As of December 2012, the rapper is turning over a new leaf for the New Year, and working on getting a “healthy” lifestyle by partnering with eDiets.com. Cee Lo announced the partnership just before the New Year hit via Internet video, and is planning to work with the company for a minimum of two years.