Women’s History Month #1: Me’shell Ndegeocello

I have been extremely busy, overworked, and also really bored with blogging lately, so I am gonna do some more fun blogs that don’t follow the press. So being Women’s History Month, I am gonna focus most of my posts this month on Black women, but particularly Bisexual, Lesbian, and Transgender Women in politics, film, music, academia, etc. I am beginning this series with Me’shell Ndegeocello.

I first saw Me’shell Ndegeocello in 1993, when BET was premiering the video Dred Loc,” the fisrt single from her debut album, Plantation Lullabies. I was in love, and immediately left the house to try to find the CD, which I believe is one of the best and most innovative records of that decade. It was a time when soul music from the UK–artists like Caron Wheeler, Carleen & Jhelisa Anderson and the Brand New Heavies (though lead singer Ndea Davenport is from the States)–were producing the better soul music than was coming out of the States. And Plantation Lullabies (alongside Joi’s Pendulum Vibe and Dionne Farris’ Wild Seed, Wild Flower) signaled the return of dyanmic, cutting edge, and complex soul music to the US.

As a bassist, lyricist, singer and emcee, she has released 5 studio recordings that are totally Me’shell, and yet completely different in terms of sound, subject, and approach. Hip-hop, Soul, Jazz, Funk, Folk, Rock, Gospel, Reggae and Punk are just some of the genres she’s unflinchingly dived into on each of her releases. And oftentimes many artists who “switch” from the style they normally play sound forced or even ridiculous. When she raps on “Hot Night” with Talib Kweli, she sounds like a hip-hop artist (and sometimes just as misogynist), and when she sings on “Sloganeer: Paradise,” she sounds like a punk rock artist without question. Though not a superstar, Me’shell is definitely a legend who’s influence on music will continue for years to come. There were too many videos of Me’shell on Youtube, but I selected the 1996 Leviticus: Faggot, written for a friend of hers who died from a gay-bashing.

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