It’s been a long road for Cee Lo Green, who first shot to fame back in the nineties as a member of soul group Goodie Mob, before teaming up with Danger Mouse under the name Gnarls Barkley to release the hugely popular ‘Crazy’.
Since the mid-00s Green was eager to launch a solo career, leaving his Goodie Mob bandmates to record solo under the moniker Arista. His first attempt at a solo career was short-lived however, as he was dropped after only two albums due to low record sales.
His label was also spooked by the failure of Gnarls Barkley’s second record to achieve success outside the US, further frustrating Green’s attempts to break through as a solo artist.
Stepping back from Gnarls Barkley, Green focused his attention on yet another solo record, 2010’s The Lady Killer, which was released to critical acclaim and has helped propel the 37-year-old singer songwriter on to the international stage.
The lead single off The Lady Killer, ‘Fuck You!’, was a hit around the world peaking at number five on the ARIA Charts here in Australia and reaching number two in the States. The single has an accompanying music video featuring a young Green being overlooked by a crush, which lead many to believe the single was about a previous lover. But according to Green that isn’t what the song is about metaphorically.
Speaking to Esquire Magazine, Green reveals he wrote the song after becoming frustrated with his record label who kept overlooking him as a serious solo artist. “It was about my relationship with my label at that moment,” Green responds to questions over the songs origins.
“In a literal way it’s about a girl. The storyline is fictitious for the most part, but we’ve all been there a time or two. I mean, not literally, at least not for me. I can afford to buy a Ferrari. You know what I mean?”
“But when I was writing it, the message came from someplace different. I’d been recording for three years and I had over seventy songs, and I was ready to be heard. But my label was just sitting on it, and it was very disheartening, not knowing if what I was doing was good enough.”
“It seemed like I couldn’t please anybody. So of course, figuratively, I was like, “You don’t you like me? Well fuck you!” It was very cathartic.”