Where Are They Now: Meshell Ndegeocello
By Dustin Fitzharris
In the chorus of your song 'Die Young' you sing: 'I always pick the wrong way / It feels right, the way to go.' What does that mean?
Well, again, that's something that's subjective. I'm always told that I pick the wrong way. That's how it's been labeled. But to me or some other people's perspective, it can be the right way. There is no absolute. Life is short. I'm absolutely against murder. The other things, they are too gray an area. That's really what this album, Devil's Halo, is about for me. The devil started out as an angel, and he had jealousy and envy. I'm really clear that no one so far I have met on this planet knows everything.
You don't shy away from politics. You have been outspoken against the war we fought in Iraq. How do you feel this administration is handling LGBT issues?
[Laughing] It's funny because I think that's the least of [Obama's] worries. I don't know. I wish I had better words for this. The system is so broken I can't invest that much thought into it. I cannot imagine being him at all. I wish he would've ended the war sooner. That's my only true issue with him and that he continued the Patriot Act. Those things are just hard for me to understand. At the same time, I'm so grateful for him because he's showing that in this country there is still this element that's quasi-racist and incredibly sexist and completely homophobic. He's giving people the chance to see just how conservative America is.
Another song of yours with powerful lyrics is 'Fellowship.' You sing: "Would you walk a righteous path without the promise of heaven, paradise streets paved in gold?" Do you feel religion causes a lot of the problems today?
Oh, yeah. I struggle with religion. I was raised with it. It's really a heavy burden. Then I converted to Islam. I think I've looked into them all. As I grow older, to me they are just faddish. I think religion is really mind control. It can bring about some positivity, but I really believe it is a dangerous force. Religion is definitely soothing to you when you have nothing else. Intellect should be grounding.
If you could do anything -- we're talking wildest dreams here -- what would you do?
I wish someone would give me a five-star hotel room for a month in Sweden, and I could just hang out and meet people. I just want to experience something different. It's a great feeling when you no longer think that New York is the center of the world.
Where do you live today?
Hudson, N.Y. Upstate.
Is it true you were mentored by Prince?
Ugh, no. I'm just a huge fan of his. I've met him a couple of times. He's a jerk.
Did you just say 'He's a jerk'?
Yeah, I've met him a couple of times, and it's never gone well, but I'm totally inspired by him. He inspired me to play music and want to make records. I remember hearing his first recording, and from that moment on I knew that's what I wanted to do.
What song is the most "you" from your catalog?
Probably 'Devil's Halo.'
You have been nominated for 10 Grammys. Do you just want to win the damn thing?
Not really. The last thing I need is another tchotchke. So I'm cool.
What are you the most proud of?
It changes all the time. I guess I'm proud of the music I've made. Also my sons, Atticus and Solomon.
To learn more about Ndegeocello, visit visit her official website.