I have always admired the artist who is not afraid to spotlight the daily catharsis we call life, and put it into an artistic pill that the masses will not sicken themselves on if left to process with their own devices. Some examples of this type of artist are Marvin Gaye, James Baldwin, and Stevie Wonder. I am not comparing or contrasting; I am simply stating personal observations and opinions. People generally do not get criticized by those closest to them for their growth—be it emotionally, spiritually, or even physically. Those who love us, or are simply enthusiastic admirers of who we are and what we do, tend to be very supportive and appreciative of our plight.
Given the preamble, those enthusiastic admirers who fall outside of the category of family (and sometimes this is also true for those who fall inside of it) tend to be a bit more conditional with their admiration. They want a brilliant finished product, not the torturous, heart-wrenching but beautiful in-betweens. In my humble opinion, Meshell Ndegeocello’s Devil's Halo is that beautiful in-between because it is a compilation of her experiences on the way to the finished product. “Tie One On,” “Bright Shiny Morning,” and “Blood On The Curb” remind me of songs that should be in a movie about twenty-somethings having an existential crisis—and that’s a good thing. “Love You Down” makes me wish I were in Ndegeocello’s head to figure out how she rendered Ready For The World’s original to such a soulful level. I am sincerely apologetic when I say I didn’t care too much for the original version, but I can’t get enough of this one. “Devil’s Halo” is a grooved out track I wish were longer, and a couple honorable mentions are “Lola” and “Hair of The Dog.”
Ndegeocello has never been afraid to take things to another level; although not everyone has appreciated those levels. Her works suggest that she chooses to maintain her own artistic integrity, not the desires of an industry continually adhering to a code of values that fluctuate with the value of the dollar.
Fans tend to be conditional with their appreciation, or lack thereof, and only want a perfectly packaged product that sounds exactly like why they began to like the artist in the first place. I presume the musical diversity Ndegeocello presents as songs suggest her emotional, spiritual, and physical growth-something we all go through, but are not as critical of. The in-between times are manifested in those artistic pills we aren’t always willing to swallow on our own. Hopefully, this one will go down easy for those who truly and enthusiastically admire Ndegeocello's work.