It's a shame that it took the commercial mega-success of Gnarls Barkley for the listening public to realize the extraordinarily unique talents of Cee-lo Green, since the artist had been turning out ceaselessly inventive, genre-bending, yet eminently listenable work since his days with Goodie Mob in the mid 1990s. CLOSET FREAK: THE BEST OF CEE-LO GREEN THE SOUL MACHINE includes two classic Goodie Mob tracks as bonuses, but otherwise culls from his two dazzlingly eclectic solo releases.
Mixing hip-hop, gospel, funk, and deep soul, Cee-lo has a musical sensibility that ranges far and free, reaching for the outer limits while staying firmly grounded in the groove. Equally adept at churchified wailing, razor-sharp raps, and wordplay that veers from surreal to socially incisive, the man is clearly a worthy inheritor of George Clinton's inspired boundary-smashing freakazoid mantel. "Closet Freak," "I'll Be Around," and "The Art of Noise" are standouts, but all 17 tunes are worth hearing, especially for those who slept on his solo work when it was originally released.