Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Meshell Lays It All Out: Meshell Ndegeocello's Latest CD Is Musically Powerful, but Its Relentless Intensity May Be Too Much for Some

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Meshell Lays It All Out: Meshell Ndegeocello's Latest CD Is Musically Powerful, but Its Relentless Intensity May Be Too Much for Some

Article excerpt

Cookie: The Anthropological Mixtape * Meshell Ndegeoceilo * Maverick

Most artists issue a statement of musical purpose on their first recording. Not Meshell Ndegeocello. She waited until her fourth studio go-round to provide unobscured insight into the influences that set her grooves in motion. On Cookie: The Anthropological Mixtape she lays her cards on the table, and in the process she lays herself more emotionally bare than any of her female R&B contemporaries.

It's been somewhat easy to peg Ndegeocello since her auspicious 1993 debut, Plantation Lullabies. She was a retro-savvy funkateer with an earthy demeanor and a slicingly sharp tongue. But while early singles like "If That's Your Boyfriend (He Wasn't Last Night)" were full of free-spirited sass and spunk, they betrayed her sensitive, somewhat embattled and embittered side--as evidenced on her subsequent efforts, most notably 1999's Bitter.

And while listeners have been given glimmers of Ndegeocello's psyche, both musical and personal, she gathers everything into one cohesive piece on Cookie, which she produced with her longtime guitarist Allen Cato. The result is a provocative if occasionally overwhelming journey.

Sharp ears will detect the influence of artists including Richie Havens, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, Joan Armatrading, and Prince--neatly interwoven into rhythms that are occasionally derivative of current hip-hop sounds. …

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