Cee-Lo’s Arista career was short-lived, as he was dropped after only two albums due to low record sales. His first album, Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections, was heavily in the vein of various other Dungeon Family releases, with southern soul/funk/jazz backings produced solely by himself and boasting appearances by fellow Dungeon Fam members Big Gipp and Backbone.
The album explored his departure from Goodie Mob and his solo growth in the song “El Dorado Sunrise (Super Chicken)”, as well as socio-political issues, and showcased his singing. The album did not sell very well, but Cee-Lo achieved some airplay with the single “Closet Freak”.
His second Arista album, Cee-Lo Green… is the Soul Machine brought a more branched-out sound and more deeply explored southern rap music. This is evidenced by collaborations with Ludacris, T.I., and Pharrell and production from Timbaland, The Neptunes, and Jazze Pha among others. The only other Dungeon Family member that appeared on his second release was Big Rube.
This album saw Cee-Lo delve into other styles besides traditional rap (see Technique). Timbaland proved to be Cee-Lo’s single producer as their song “I’ll Be Around” received mild airplay. They performed the single on an episode in the second season of Chappelle’s Show. “The One” featuring Jazze Pha and T.I. was also released as a single.
On the heels of the success of Gnarls Barkley, Arista released a 17-track “Greatest Hits” collection of Cee-Lo songs, Closet Freak: The Best Of Cee-Lo Green the Soul Machine. It features predominantly Cee-Lo solo tracks and several Goodie Mob songs.