Music in Context.
Cee Lo Green b/w Action Bronson
Cee Lo Green
Kool G Rap
It’s not about giving the middle finger and saying, “Whatever.” It’s about real talk. As Cee Lo says in our cover story, “I despise the notion of ‘whatever.’ ” Mr. Green has something to say. He’s not the character he portrays on TV. And he’s not superficially enamored with an industry run by “atheists”—so he must find a balance of being a superstar in the spotlight and a human being in the shadows of introspection.
Up-and-coming rapper Action Bronson doesn’t front about his occupation, doesn’t try to sugarcoat his story. The former chef is just a regular guy with a knack for rhyme and storytelling. He doesn’t hesitate to tell us that he’s thankful and that music is something he takes very seriously.
While the music industry has always been filled with big personalities, it’s especially refreshing to hear from outspoken artists who, as big man Aaron Neville said, tell it like it is. In the 1970s, Ron Isley and his band of brothers weren’t afraid to put a fist in the air and scream, “Fight the power!”—while Brian Jackson and Gil Scott-Heron used their music and words to speak the truth in turbulent times. As two soul artists without a f**king filter, Millie Jackson and Swamp Dogg have made their living putting their uncut thoughts to tape. And Philly soul architect Thom Bell opens up about his weighty contributions to a genre and a business, and Detroit singer Freda Payne shares her personal feelings about her own twists of fate. Finally, Queens rapper Kool G Rap is never afraid to state that he influenced every great rapper of our generation. Don’t fear the truth.