Meshell Ndegeocello’s approach to music and life is equal parts defiance and surrender.

Her music defies categorization, never fitting neatly into any specific genre yet incorporating elements of rock, R&B, soul, hip-hop, electronic music, folk and whatever else she feels like when she’s in the process of creating. (If you’re still searching for a label then maybe “good” or “great” would suffice.)

Typical labels don’t work very well to describe her as a person either. Categorizing Ndegeocello by gender, race, or sexual orientation does little to encompass the depth of her creativity or the breadth of her vision. Trying to capture that type of expanse in a word or two is futile too.

As part of our Off The Record video series, we spoke with Ndegeocello and she performed unique covers of Nick Drake’s ‘Pink Moon’ and Nina Simone’s ‘Be My Husband.’ We also were treated to songs from her new album, ‘Comet Come to Me,’ including her dramatic take on old school rap trio Whodini’s classic ‘Friends’ and a lush original composition called ‘Continuous Performance.’

According to Ndegeocello, ‘Comet Come to Me’ is an exercise in living in the present – a surrender to spontaneity and the here and now. It’s not a concept album but a body of work inspired by creative impulse in the now and “randomness.” No strict adherence to theme or premeditated intention -- just creating for creation’s sake -- a space where she feels most liberated. “It’s the only time I feel genderless, race-less,” she told us. “I just feel at ease, you just have one thing to concentrate on.”

Watch her talk about how Prince’s music spurred her own music career and her approach to making music in the video above and maybe you’ll be inspired too.

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