Some people never forget where they came from. CeeLo Green, who rose to solo superstardom on the success of “Forget You” and The Voice, is reuniting with his original Atlanta outfit The Goodie Mob for the TBS comedy series The Good Life (Mondays, 10:30/9:30c).
While the Mob released a reunion album, Age Against the Machine, last fall, the show is only nominally about music. Episodes involve CeeLo and his childhood buddies Big Gipp, Khujo and T-Mo starting a chauffeur service with hot (but tardy) female drivers, plus CeeLo trying his hand at standup comedy and promoting his Loberace show in Las Vegas on a flatbed truck, complete with dancers and pyrotechnics. CeeLo also has a supporting role in the movie Begin Again, opening late June/early July. We caught up with him to talk friendship, TV and his cat.
“Purrfect the cat is in the show too. Everybody asks about the cat. Even President Obama, when I met him for the first time, the first thing he said was, ‘Where’s your cat?’ ”
What’s it like being with your old friends again?
Friendship is rare. It’s the strongest bond you can have. We’ve known each other 30 years, 35 years, some of us. We started in early 1995 together as kids growing up in the same community and neighborhood. We’ve been planning on doing a reunion since 2008. We get a chance to showcase an intimacy that we’ve endured for the last 20 years together. I wanted people to see a gentler, more laughable side of life. A lot the music that we’ve done and the albums that we’ve released have a very serious overtone of social politics and commentary. So I wanted the audience to see us unplugged, so to speak.
Do you compare The Good Life to Entourage?
More Curb Your Enthusiasm or something like that. It’s semi‑scripted. I wanted to do something really innovative and cutting edge, something more authentic, not another reality show, per se.
What are some of the things we’ll see?
All kinds of different antics. I don’t want to give too much away but there’s a tiger in one episode, and I threw out the first pitch for a Dodgers game. Most of it is in Atlanta but Las Vegas also. Purrfect the cat is in it too. Everybody asks about the cat. Even President Obama, when I met him for the first time, the first thing he said was, “Where’s your cat?”
Are you planning to go back to The Voice at some point?
I love the show and it’s wonderful to be a part of it and what we’ve accomplished. I will gladly go back if they’ll have me.
Do you feel that it has broadened your audience?
Absolutely. Most people only knew me from just “Forget You,” not even “Crazy,” because it was under the moniker of Gnarls Barkley. A lot of people do not realize that my career has spanned the last 20 years. So it’s done an awful lot for me and I’ve been consistent about my ideal and my identity. And I think people do see that genuineness and that sincerity, and I think that’s what’s been able to ring true with such a diverse audience, and so I’m very grateful for that.
You have a unique personal style—what inspires it?
I dare to be different. My style has a lot to do with my sense of humor. It’s all about shocking and surprising, pleasantly surprising, and entertaining people. People are my passion. To perform is my passion. And I’ve gotten away with a little murder, man, for the last 20 years doing what I do. I get a kick out of it. Some people love it. Some people hate it. But they don’t miss it and they can’t deny it.
What’s on your agenda now?
I want to do more acting—you start small and you go from there. Test the waters. We’re doing it with this television show. This is a great starting point. But the connection, the relationship between music and television or music and acting or theater, it’s a fact that it’s basically one and the same. I’ve been spending more time in Atlanta, with family, because I’ve been out in the field for the last five years.
But you’d rather be busy, wouldn’t you?
I would. Idle time is the devil’s workshop.