Meshell Ndegeocello
Name of Album: The Quintessential Meshell Mixtape
Ratings: Personal - 3 General - 3
Release Date: June 4, 2002

Soul is in! Meshell Ndegeocello's first track, I'm Diggin You (Like an Old Soul Record), on her new album "The Quintessential Meshell Mixtape" makes it certain. The song's sub-title is true to the sound it evokes. Unfortunately, it does not evoke anything otherwise. I just don't feel like dancing or loving or listening to it.

Track two makes me feel much the same way. "If That's Your Boyfriend," sounds just like a classic dis song, The Gas Face, from one of my favorite rap albums of all time, the Cactus Album by Third Base, except that there is a woman singing it, and it is not funny this time. The song is actually a re-release and was previously featured on her debut album Plantation Lullabies in 1993, for which she received four Grammy nominations. I guess that just goes to show you that I don't necessarily have the same opinion as other critics.

Track three, Outside Your Door, sounds like some old Keith Sweat, but it doesn't make me perspire in the same way, maybe I'm just getting too old for that sort of thing. Track four, The Teaching, starts out with the chorus line "You're the best lover I've have ever had" and runs off the same bucket as the previous track, but spills and sprawls on the floor haplessly just the same.

Track five, Who is He, has something different to offer! It has a sexy bass five chord-pluck running like a warm spring on a summer night throughout. Meshell's voice evokes something like an upbeat Cassandra Wilson. The combo of her soulful confidence and the instrumental accompaniment—the bass, an occasional back-bar synthesizer, an old and reliable electric guitar and a puncture of some disco violins— makes this a viable hit. Thank God, because based on the intro of this album I was about to give up (listening).

Tracks 6-10 fall back into the beginning and do not do me as right. They just lie there, trying to poke me sideways, getting on top of me, holding me from behind, but in whatever position they have me, they just do not pique me.

The last track, number 11, Hot Night, is the saving grace. Despite its few foul words, I think it is well worth listening to. Good party tune —even better song to play on your system while crusiin' nowhere special. Like "Who is He," this also offers up much potential for radio play. This is a good song that would complement some classics quite well, I can plainly hear it sitting right between Earth Wind and Fire's Got to Get your into My Life, and Ohio Player's Love RollerCoaster.

Overall, the album Quintessential, also known as "Cookie: The Anthropological Mixtape," might provide one with a good sample of music for someone wishing to be indoctrinated into Meshell's philosophy, an artist whose first album was hailed by TIME magazine as "literate smart music about black life." Otherwise, I don't feel compelled to urge anyone to buy when there are so many other nu-soul artists, such as Jill Scott, which have more to offer.