Picks and Pans Review: Me'shell Ndegéocello

updated 02/21/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/21/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

Plantation Lullabies

As one of the newest artists on Madonna's label, this singer-songwriter and one-woman band (bass, guitar and keyboards) mixes a smooth, sexy alto with a revolutionary" vibe on her impressive debut album. One minute, NdegéOcello (pronounced N-day-gay-o-chello) is sensuously purring permission to run her ringers through her lover's dreadlocks; the next minute she's protesting in "Soul on Ice" that African-Americans have "been indoctrinated...by the white racist standard of beauty." Blurring genres, NdegéOcello conjures a funky psychedelic jam session in "Shoot'n Up and Gett'n High," swings uptempo with heavy percussion and old-school jazz riffs in "Step into the Projects" and sings of unrequited love in the subtle reggae-spiced "Sweet Love." Painfully honest about the black experience, NdegéOcello takes hip hop to a higher level. (Maverick/Sire/Reprise)

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