Meshell Ndegeocello’s ability to dart between rap and sung vocals, jazz, funk, soul and hip hop has made her one of the most acclaimed and honoured American musicians of the last 20 years. It’s been suggested that she was a key artist in sparking the neo-soul movement, a collection of ‘90s artists like Erykah Badu and D’Angelo that incorporated Soul and Funk into their sound, giving it a fresher edge with programmed rhythms, off-kilter drums and a modern production approach. Her debut album ‘Plantation Lullabies’, released in 1993, was a major crossover success, which saw the scratch skills of producer DJ Premier and the saxophone lines of Thelonius Monk Prize winning Joshua Redman take equal importance.
Heropenness to new ideas, and combining of sounds has not only made her work diverse and interesting, but has made other artists keen to collaborate with her, and bring her bass playing and ideas to their music. She collaborated with Yerba Buena on ‘Gentlemen’, a track which made for the ‘Red Hot Riot’ compilation, a Fela Kuti tribute album, with proceeds going to African charities. She has also recently collaborated with alternative rap duo THEEsatisfaction proving the impact she has had on a younger generation of musicians, who would’ve grown up with her influence.
Her career shows no signs of slowing, and her development keeps her of interest to the active music listener. Her show at Band on the Wall in May is her first ever Manchester show, and will be a special night. Below is the aforementioned track from ‘Red Hot Riot’, an afrobeat centred, rhythmic track showcasing her vocal work and bass playing perfectly.