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Rapper Cee-Lo on his biggest possession obsession

Rapper Cee-Lo on his biggest possession obsession. Money can’t buy love, but it can buy stuff you love, find out just how much

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Cee Lo
Cee-Lo Photgraph by Chris Stanford

You don’t come across a lot of bald, plus-size rappers willing to strut their stuff in a white feathered boa, but Cee-Lo is not your average linebacker-proportioned hip-hopper. His wild style — a nod to George Clinton and his winged, diapered, and space-suited P-Funk crew — is a bright, Technicolor flare of individuality in the distressingly homogenous hip-hop world. On his exceptional new solo debut, ”Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections” — a post-”Stankonia” blend of bouncy Southern rap, ax-shredding rock, civil rights-era soul, and psychedelic funk — the 26-year-old Atlanta native (born Thomas Callaway) and Goodie Mob member echoes the past and comments on the contemporary. It’s the same statement he makes with his sea green ’65 Chevy Super Sport, one of his favorite fixations.

”I passed by an old used car lot one day in 1997 and saw it…. It was covered with dirt, but I opened up the door and the interior was immaculate. I knew I had to have it. It was beautiful, man. I paid $9,000 for it. It wasn’t money I made off of any album. My mother had recently passed, so I had an insurance settlement. I didn’t need the car. I just wanted it. Maybe subconsciously I wanted to do something special with [the money].

”When I ride this car, it’s about being with the fellas…. I used to drive it through the park a lot. That used to be a Georgia thing, to get your car clean and ride through Maddox Park. I put some hydraulics on the car so it does the jump, the side-to-side, the three-wheel motion. This car is not really for speed. With the hydraulics you catch every bump. It’s just for looking good and cruising. I don’t play nothing but old music when I’m in there: some El Chicano, War, Marvin Gaye — that whole low-rider vibe.

”Every time I drive it there’s an older white guy giving me a thumbs-up…. And you also get that ‘hood admiration, like, ‘Yeah, that’s clean.’ Clean means just enough. It has a little splash of yourself, whether it be color choice or rims. But not over-accessorized to where it’s a mess. I don’t have to have a Bentley. Honestly, I can’t see spending $350,000 for a car…. This is about having something vintage. In Atlanta, everybody knows this car is mine. It’s old, clean, and one of a kind — just like me.”