How to pronounce Meshell Ndegeocello

New album by Meshell Ndegeocello: Researches for Elegance

She loves punk and hip-hop and has made a name for herself with lush grooves. The album "Weather" by US musician Meshell Ndegeocello is a new beginning.

New life, new songs, new insights: Meshell Ndegeocello. Image: Charlie Gross

Everyone is talking about the weather. Meshell Ndegeocello does that too. "My state of mind changes with every weather condition. There are innumerable large emotional weather conditions, from heart-warming to freezing cold. For me, weather is less banal than a poetic metaphor. It means many different things at different times."

It's good that the title of Meshell Ndegeocello's new album "Weather" has been clarified. So one can talk about the basics, the pleasant indolence of the songs on their new album. And they are anything but sensitive to the weather.

Meshell Ndegeocello shudders at the mere thought of ballads during the interview. "Because you recognize every mistake when playing ballads immediately. As a musician, I had to muster infinite patience and self-confidence to be able to trust myself with ballads. If a song is loud and aggressive, you can always hide behind the facade of your pulse, with ballads it works Not."

Meshell Ndegeocello speaks factually about the artistic vision and the problems that form the basis of her new album "Weather". For the first time in her career, she switched to the mode of a singer-songwriter for the recordings.

"Weather" turned out to be a sparingly orchestrated album. "I take myself back," says Ndegeocello, "otherwise my listeners will have nothing more to long for." Unusual for an artist who was once considered the epicenter of lush grooves and power music with African American connotations; for the only woman who has ever made it onto the cover of the largest US music journal; and the first female artist to be signed to Madonna's label Maverick.

Maverick is now bankrupt, and the United States in the past few years has once described Ndegeocello as "post-racist". In the meantime, her own music has cut many references to Afro-American culture; she deals with her influences much more freely than before, mixes them more closely. When asked what makes her different from her hero Prince, she answers laconically. "Unlike him, I am not hindered by any religious dogma."

Finding pop musicians who are reflective but matter-of-fact about their raison d'ĂȘtre is one thing. The other is that 43-year-old Ndegeocello speaks ready for press. If she gives information, then a scientist seems to speak who explains new research findings quite self-critically.

This coolness comes without an exclamation mark, it creates distance. In turn, it carries over to her music. That this too is staging again, so what. Because all of their 13 new songs, performed at a slow pace, develop an irresistible pull when they are listened to. The elegance of this comfort crawls under the covers, and then it just stays there for longer.

Ndegeocello also dedicated himself to the form of the ballad because it wanted to counter the supersonic speed of everyday life. "Weather" is a break with her past. She grew up as Michelle Johnson in Washington D. C., under chaotic living conditions, as she says.

Ndegeocello first lost her heart to punk, then to New York. She fondly remembers the turbulence there. "A place where artists were creatively in the process of developing themselves artistically - even those that nobody knew. Today it's only ultra-bourgeois, the low-budget version that I valued no longer exists." She covers Cohen's "Chelsea Hotel", her temporary home. And she celebrates her farewell to the Big Apple in the song "Objects in mirror are closer than they appear".

Ndegeocello has also become estranged from the hip-hop culture that has shaped her. As black people, it is difficult to understand that crime, as it is shown in the worlds of hip-hop imagination, was still perceived as something liberating in the Obama era. "I wish masculinity would be more diverse."

Meshell Ndegeocello has pitched her tents in the small town of Hudson with her partner and their little daughter. "I live in the middle of the forest. My new life has been switched to a more leisurely pace, it supplies me with new energy. I would like to feed this energy back into society."

The new energy shows itself in the ballads, which are formal and structurally meet the danger of the highly emotional. "When I sing, I have to concentrate a lot more on the naked voice, it is in the foreground. I like that because at the same time the language in the songs dissolves into its details. It's about saying everything in a few words. It works also about communicating feelings without words becoming intelligible. You don't know what I'm saying, but you can feel it. This time, that was my method of using the voice as an instrument, not as a foghorn. "