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Plantation Lullabies

Meshell Ndegeocello

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Album Review

Me'Shell Ndegéocello's debut album twists and turns through so many genres — R&B, pop, jazz, hip-hop — that it's hard to put a finger on just where she wants to take its 13 songs. That she also spins conventional racial and sexual identity here makes Plantation Lullabies an occasionally overwhelming — as well as a vibrantly sophisticated — listen. Ndegéocello defies labels throughout, tagging her slinking and crawling songs with a rubbery flow that's just as rooted in '70s funky soul as it is in '90s hip-hop culture. The best songs here — "If That's Your Boyfriend (He Wasn't Last Night)," "Dred Loc," and "Outside Your Door" — work their way into their grooves with a seamless, and almost uniform, bounce. It can be a bit derivative (for all of Ndegéocello's genre-crossing, she always seems to go back to the same musical blueprint), but most of the time it's just about as boundary-busting and as affecting as '90s R&B gets.

Biography

Born: 29 August 1968 in Berlin, Germany

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Although Me'Shell Ndegéocello scored a few hits early in her career, the singer/bassist opted to concentrate subsequently on more challenging material by exploring the politics of race and sex, among other topics. Born Michelle Johnson on August 29, 1968 and spending the first few years of her life in Germany (her father was both a military man and a jazz saxophonist), Ndegéocello relocated with her family to Virginia in the early '70s, as the youngster developed an interest in music. As a teenager,...
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Plantation Lullabies, Meshell Ndegeocello
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