With the spate of books and blog posts waxing poetic about the 90s, I'm surprised Meshell Ndegeocello's "If That's Your Boyfriend," is rarely mentioned. The song and its minimalist video are pretty timeless, I can't believe it's been nearly twenty years. I usually cringe when I watch old videos. Many of them are so unquestionably 90s they're almost encased in amber.
Like I said in an earlier post, I didn't have much access to the underground. Blogs were at least a decade away, and even the hippest record stores rarely carried zines or cds that went too far out of the mainstream. For something to reach a working class, Midwestern girl who didn't go to a liberal college, it had to be filtered through traditional media. Fortunately, there was a small window of opportunity in the early 90s when MTV knew there was something out there called "alternative," but the powers that be didn't really know what that was yet. A handful of cool, creative artists got a shot at fame. If only for a short while. And while this song isn't really representative of her work as a whole, it did get significant airplay and snagged a spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
It needs to be said that women artists are rarely thought of as instrumentalists. Singers and songwriters? Yes, but when you read about women making music, you hardly ever read about women "making music." And Meshell Ndegeocello is an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist.