Cee Lo Explains ‘F— You’ at BMI Songwriters Panel
In honor of his Grammy nominations and success of the single ‘F— You,’ Cee Lo Green took to the BMI ‘How I Wrote the Song’ panel to discuss his songwriting techniques to aspiring musicians at the Key Club in Los Angeles, Saturday (Feb. 12). Open to the public, the pre-Grammy event included a host of songwriters and producers, including Dallas Austin, Claude Kelly and Chad Hugo of the Neptunes, who all spoke on the inspiration behind a plethora of their hits.
As a veteran in the music game, Cee Lo noted that when it comes to teaching up-and-comers, his best advice is to remain authentic. “I can’t teach them to be themselves, I can suggest that they be themselves,” Cee Lo told The BoomBox. “I just say diversify your listening. If you’re making art than accept the fact that true art isn’t meant to be accepted by everyone at the same time. It’s not always about who you can be, it’s ultimately about who you are, so make music from that place. I think that realness will resonate as such.”
Following the mantra of individuality, Cee Lo set out to write ‘F— You,’ just as his personal life hit a snag and his marriage ended. Although he doesn’t credit his divorce for the inspiration of the explicit song, releasing the song digitally, helped it gain mainstream popularity. “A song titled as such you can [see] more where it wouldn’t work as opposed to where it would,” he explained. “It was released virally so that was more a calculated way than releasing it anywhere else. It’s a people’s choice kind of record, it has a very humane working class hero thing to it. It’s an opportunity to live vicariously through it, to stand up and be counted and say something matter-of-fact.”
While it may seem that some singles are written and produced with specific artists in mind, many of the panelists revealed that their biggest hits came organically. “You just got to create your own world,” Hugo added. Set your guidelines, make your own realm and create music within that realm. You learn about basic things, get people to listen to you and the better it gets.”