It’s natural ability that has made Ndegeocello a staple in the neo-soul, funk, R&B, and hip-hop genres — just a few examples, if you must attempt to classify her style. A complete original in a world where it’s hard to stand out, Ndegeocello doesn’t fit easily into any category.
While she’s always blurred the boundaries of musical genres, she’s also done the same in regard to sexuality. But the fact that Ndegeocello was always openly queer was sometimes of more interest than her talent in the mainstream press — especially in the beginning of her career. It’s something that still happens today, though maybe with less frequency.
"I feel like my sexuality preceded my music for a long time," she said. "It was used as a marketing tool in the beginning, pretty blatantly, and I didn’t really get it at the time. I was just out. I didn’t realize it was a selling point and it took a lot of years to get any sense of privacy back into my life, where people didn’t feel entitled to talk to me about who I was having sex with, as if it weren’t a personal question."
Perhaps it’s that experience that has led her to warn up-and-coming queer musicians about dealing with press and fans. To them, she says, "Be honest, but protect yourself and your family. It’s a better, safer, different moment, but it’s hard to get things back once you give away too much."
These days, she doesn’t go into great detail about her personal life. Ndegeocello does say that her new baby (she also has a 20-year-old son from a previous relationship) is amazing and that the anticipation of his arrival helped her "focus on keeping the process [of recording Devil's Halo] tight." In fact, much of the music was written before the parents even knew he was coming.
Regarding the new album title, Ndegeocello says it refers to the "good and evil to be found in all things." She adds, "Nothing is perfectly good or bad, and the album is about finding beauty in imperfection, in contrast, in being, seeing, knowing, struggling with the humanity of imperfection and the imperfection of humanity."
For more information on Meshell Ndegeocello and Devil’s Halo, check out her official website.