Stepping outside the box in the music industry has always be a risky task. Labels expect their artists to garner mainstream appeal with their records and even fans get weary when they hear about their beloved artist stepping into a new musical lane. So, what better way to overstep these barriers than to form a massive musical collective and develop your own sonic expectations based on what you want to do. That is exactly what Ceelo and his ‘Dungeon Family’ collective of Atlanta-based musicians did. Given complete creative freedom on his solo label debut was the best thing that could have happened to Ceelo.
Ceelo Green and His Perfect Imperfections, left almost no territory untraveled. Everything from blues to rock to hip-hop and gospel has a place on this project. Tried plenty of times before, this formula often ends up sounding like an incohesive mess. Rather than sounding like a confused artist trying to find his place, Ceelo manages to stand out as a man that simply is able to juggle styles with competence and ease.
His voice is his most masterfully wielded tool. Capable of swinging bluesy croons over the working man’s country ballad ‘Country Love’ and modulated, soulful vocal over a funky-guitar riddled track like, ‘El Dorado Sunrise’. His voice, undeniably bluesy and soulful, is the element that allows us to make sense of how this eclectic album works. His rapidly delivered bars and screechy yelps on the intro, ‘Bad Motha’ echo the sounds of funkmaster, James Brown. Not only can the man belt out some incredibly pitched sounds, but damn, the man can rhyme. His adept singing voice make it all the more interesting when you hear him spit some incredibly rhythmic and intellectual bars over the airy instrumental of ‘Big Ol Words’. Incredibly wordy, it comes across sounding like spoken-word poetry at an open mic night was put to music.
The instrumentals were another extension of his weird, expansive style. He essentially handled the entire production of the album himself. It is reminiscent of Timbaland in the way it plays with and combines sounds that very few other people were at the time. There’s really no order to this chaotic album. Its sound will move from funk to heavy rock and back to neo-funk in a matter of minutes, genres be damned. His strengths are illuminated by spotlights and made easily recognizable thanks to his hasty variations in style. It becomes clear that his more mellowed out, soulful tracks are where Ceelo is in top form. It is so apparent that the other tracks begin to feel slightly underwhelming. It’s not that the other songs are bad, they just fail to match the level of beauty that is Ceelo’s voice. Ceelo pulls in so many different directions, even as efficiently as he does it, it still ends up lacking an identity. Even without an identity, the music is competent enough to stand on its own as a collection of well made, genre-blending tracks that more than confirms Ceelo’s status as a future pop-culture mainstay.