I’ve been into Cee-Lo for a long time now. I grew up on a steady diet of Goodie Mob cereal, and it wasn’t before long that that mid-90s southern hip hop twisted my brain for good. After devouring Jewish race literature, it was safe to say that ‘being Jewish’ became something like a form of James Weldom Johnson-style race-conciousness. Now, some years later, I see Cee-Lo, a talented wordsmith, is a haute-pop artist wearing peacock feathers in duets with Gwyneth Paltrow. Whither the ikar of Double-Consciousness.
Cee-Lo Green’s recent performance at the Grammys seemed Jewish insofar as its melodies made me think that my mother had once danced to this in the smoky parts of Hell’s Kitchen.
Cee-Lo co-wrote the song, and one of his collaborators is a 25 year old by the name of Ari Levine. Part of a group of songwriters, musicians and producers named The Smeezingtons, Teaneck High School dropout Ari Levine (no word yet on his Hebrew name) also worked with Matisyahu and various other pop outfits currently hot in the land. Born into the Conservative Movement, he seems to stand outside all these current debates about the innovation within. I like that, o ghost of Max Fleischer.