There are albums dedicated to personal pain, or political protest, love, death, nostalgia,rage. There are those that are simply fun, glossy, the soundtrack to a good time. Someare exploratory, a musical journey, shapeshifting soundmaking, a new way to do an oldthing. An artist can make a choice about concept and content, or heed a vision, followtheir muse or their manager. But in times so extreme and overwhelming, when there isno known expression for the feeling, no satisfactory direction for art or action, then theymight take refuge in a process, a ritual, something familiar, the shape and sound ofwhich recall another time altogether, so that they can weather the present long enoughto call it the past. Some albums are testimony, some confessions, and some areescape. Ventriloquism, the latest album from MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO, is a place,like its process, to take refuge from one storm too many.Musically, Ventriloquism has the hallmarks of all of Ndegeocellos work, lush andinvestigative, subversive and sublime. As always, she pays tribute to her diverseinfluences and in these eleven covers, we hear them layered over one another.Ndegeocello filters Tender Love through a folky, Californian filter and bringsVaudevillian accents to Sensitivity. She recreates Smooth Operator in five, and turnsPrivate Dancer into a sultry waltz. The reimagining affords not just a new musicalexperience but also a comment on the narrow expectations of sounds and structuresfor black artists and black music.Early on in my career, I was told to make the same kind of album again and again, andwhen I didnt do that, I lost support. There isnt much diversity within genres, which areghettoizing themselves, and I liked the idea of turning hits I loved into something evenjust a little less familiar or formulaic. It was an opportunity to pay a new kind of tribute.This album was recorded in Los Angeles with the familiar family of partners and playersthat Meshell has worked with for years. Chris Bruce plays guitar, Abraham Rounds is ondrums, Jebin Bruni co-produced the album and plays keys. S. Husky Huskoldsengineered while Pete Min mixed and mastered. Lasting and collaborative relationshipswith her fellow musicians is among the most important parts of music making forMeshell, prompting her to say on more than one occasion: Meshell Ndegeocello is aband.Some tracks were selected for their reflections: The album opens with I Wonder If ITake You Home, which marked the early influence of Prince and Hip Hop oncommercial pop, and was a reference for Ndegeocellos own If Thats Your Boyfriend.Constantly asked to be funky, Meshell includes Atomic Dog as a reminder that theheart of funk is ineffable and irreverent, not just acted in showy flourishes, slaps, ornoodling. Other songs offered an outlet for plain emotional truths: Waterfalls wasstripped down, and delivered as an honest and needed personal lament. Sometimes ItSnows In April has an extended intro, an accidental result of the bands desire to delaythe new and inevitable sadness of the song. Funny How Time Flies approachessarcasm in its ominous and lonely sounds, exemplifying how these times personallyfor Meshell, politically for many are neither flying nor fun.The year around the recording of this album was so disorienting and dispiriting for mepersonally and for so many people I know and spoke to all the time. I looked for a wayto make something that was light while things around me were so dark, a musical placeto go that reminded me of another, brighter time.A final note to the listener, Meshell chose art for the album package that hints at whatsinside: A graphic V, a hidden M, the artwork is symbolic, sexy, and calls on the languageof protest of the era these songs were mined from. With no words or pictures, theartwork is itself a declaration that even when you cannot imagine what to say, if youcome together to create, you can find transformation and reinvention, the old canbecome new, today can become tomorrow.A portion of the profits from this album will be donated to the American Civil LibertiesUnion.
$28.00 - $31.00
9 Grammy nominations. Four albums. More than a dozen soundtrack cuts. Nine years of electrifying live performances worldwide. Immeasurable kudos from musical idols and peers. Countless musical offspring. Still, Meshell Ndegeocello remains an underground phenomenon, the artist everybody knows, the artist every musician studies, but the artist that seems unattached to the lure of commercial success. "I just make beats," she says, "I play my bass, express myself, search and that's it. Whatever else does or doesn't come with that in terms of the way people respond, that's cool. Bottom line, it's got to be sincere and its got to be funky. The rest, I can't f*ck with."
The socially conscious Meshell Ndegeocello constantly continues to push boundaries with her brand of sophisticated mix of sweet, raucous, and deeply personal rock, jazz, funk, soul.
Mother of neo-soul, Meshell Ndegeocello celebrates the release of her new record, Comfort Woman, on October 14, 2003. The album, her 5th on Maverick, blends Meshell's patented deep soul with reggae and intergalactic psychedelia. "It's a love record," Meshell says.
Born in Berlin, Germany and raised in Washington D.C, Meshell adopted the name Ndegeocello as a teenager, which means, "free like a bird" in Swahili. She discovered her musical gift under the tutelage of her father, jazz saxophonist Jacques Johnson. Self taught on the bass, guitar, keyboards and drums, Meshell became a permanent fixture in the go-go clubs of D.C. and was soon courted by several labels, including Prince's Paisley Park imprint. In 1993 she became the first Female artist signed to Madonna's Maverick Records and, shortly thereafter, burst onto the grunge-rock dominated music scene with her groundbreaking, genre busting debut, Plantation Lullabies. With memorable tracks like "If That's Your Boyfriend (He Wasn't Last Night)" and "Outside Your Door," Plantation Lullabies earned her three Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist, and Bassist of the Year from Bass Player Magazine (the first woman to win that honor).
Meshell's next two efforts, Peace Beyond Passion and Bitter went on to garner four more Grammy nominations and wide critical acclaim. Her live performances -- powered by her all-star band consisting of Oliver Gene Lake on drums, Federico Gonzalez Peña on keys, Allen Cato on guitars, David Dyson on Bass and K'Alyn on vocals -- have become legendary. A prolific writer with over 200 unreleased songs, non-album Meshell tunes have appeared in films such as The Hurricane, Batman & Robin, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Down in the Delta, The Best Man, Higher Learning, White Man's Burden and Love Jones. She has also scored films (A Time for Dancing, 2001 and Disappearing Acts, 2000) and composed for dance companies (Winifred B. Harris Dance and Trajal Harrel Dance). In the course of her career, Meshell has worked with artists such as Prince, Lenny Kravitz, John Mellencamp, The Rolling Stones, Indigo Girls, Alanis Morissette, George Clinton, Herbie Hancock, Steve Coleman, Marcus Miller, Chaka Khan, Scritti Politti, Vanessa Williams, Eric Benet and Madonna. Though ever defying categorization, Meshell's style and sound definitively paved the way for new soul singers such as D'Angelo, Erykah Badu, Maxwell, Jill Scott, India.Arie, Alicia Keys and Glenn Lewis.
On Tuesday, June 4, Maverick/Warner Bros. Records released Cookie: The Anthropological Mixtape a fervently awaited fourth. The first single "Pocketbook," rich with alluring tones and unabashed eroticism, has been remixed and produced by two-time Grammy winner, Missy Elliot and Rockwilder. The sultry track features rap superstar Redman and background vocals by Tweet, a Missy Elliot protégé.
With its finely tuned lyrics and resonance, Cookie boasts an eclectic array of contributors including Caron Wheeler (Soul II Soul), Lalah Hathaway, Marcus Miller and Funkadelic guitarist Michael Hampton. Highlights include the socially conscious track "Hot Night" which contains politically insightful verses featuring Talib Kweli and a throbbing beat too penetrating to ignore, and "Trust" a sexually explicit love song, not for the faint of heart.
With sold out shows, press reviews and wide-spread industry excitement leading up to the release of “Comfort Woman”, Meshell seems to be on the brink of going from underground icon to "cha-ching" selling artist. In Meshell's words, "Sure, that would be great, but will it matter if I'm not a good person? That's really all I'm trying to do with my imperfect ass-- just trying to be a good person." She smiles, "And, if I'm funky in the process, bet."