When Cee Lo Green performed his hit song “F*&% You” on the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards show, he looked like the 21st century’s answer to 1970s Elton John. Performing with muppets as his backing band, Green sat behind a grand piano with a suit made of bright feathers and some kind of metal chest shield. And though his song (which the Grammy’s humorously called “The Song Otherwise Known as Forget You”—ain’t that some shhh…?) didn’t win “Song of the Year” or “Record of the Year,” it has become one of his biggest hits. But Cee Lo didn’t just come out of nowhere.
Cee Lo was catapulted into the national spotlight when his voice spilled out of radios across the country singing “Crazy,” which he performed with Danger Mouse under the name Gnarls Barkley. Even then, Green had been toiling through the underground for many years, first as part of Atlanta hip hop group Goodie Mob and then releasing two records under his own name before joining Gnarls Barkley. Throughout that time, he has been involved with multiple record labels, including Elektra, Atlantic, and Arista. Releasing records under different names for different labels can be a very complicated situation in terms of contracts, but ensuring the contracts are in place and are understood by all involved parties is the first step to bringing, hopefully, fame and royalty payments. Or, in Cee Lo Green’s case, a chance to perform for an audience of millions on the Grammy Awards.