To say that I was disappointed in the actions of neo-soul singer Meshell Ndegocello over the weekend during a performance in Atlanta would be a huge understatement. Over 500 people lined up in front of Sugarhill, a club venue at Atlanta's popular Underground to see the openly gay artist perform live, but what they were subjected too was an angry, disrespectful, and intoxicated Meshell.
I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan. I don't own any of her albums, but I was familiar with her music and enjoyed the few songs that were able to break into the mainstream during the late 90's. I've written in the past about how I was moved by her courage to record the controversial song Leviticus Faggot and it's impact on the lives of many young LGBT people.
But the ounce of respect I had for Meshell going into this concert was quickly diminished by the end of her 45 minute set.
She appeared on stage dressed in all black with a head wrap covering her locks. I didn't expect her to pull a Diana Ross and have 10 costume changes during her performance, but I also didn't expect her to look like the man on the corner with a mug that says "Got any spare change? ".
Five minutes into heavy instrumentals from her band and very few vocals from Meshell, the crowd gasps as we see Meshell passed out on the middle of the stage. Was she high? Or did the flash photography from the crowd cause her epilepsy to act up? The jury is still out on that one. But upon her return to the stage she threw water on the crowd, performed with her back to the audience at times, and left the stage twice provoking boos from her paying fans.
I'd been told to expect anything from a live Meshell Ndegeocello show, it all depends on what kind of mood she's in. Her opening act ( I couldn't even begint to tell you who he was) tricked us into believing that Meshell was going to have something profound to say about the state of today's music, but instead all we got was an expensive ticket for an amateur show by an artist who is obviously bitter about not achieving commercial success.
I know she and other neo-soul artists shun anything related to "Hollywood", for them it's all about the music and I agree it should be. But if going underground is going to turn you into a bitter and angry human being you might want to re-consider recording that radio-friendly pop song.
And never under any circumstances bite the hands that's putting money in your pocket. There were die hard fans in the audience who felt betrayed and disrespected. It's a shame when you meet someone you idolize and they turn out to be the exact opposite of who you imagined them to be. Whatever Meshell is going through I hope she comes out of it really soon, otherwise she's going to remain just another D-List artist.