Despite all the Grammy nods and side gigs playing bass with the Rolling Stones and former label boss Madonna, Meshell Ndegeocello seems fated to be forever underrated. Too bad. Nearly two decades into her career, she recently released one of her best albums yet, "Weather."
It provides the perfect excuse to catch her dynamic live show, in which she skillfully retools her songs alongside those by personal heroes such as Prince and Gil Scott-Heron. Ndegeocello, 43, performs Sunday and Monday at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis. She spoke to us from her home in New York.
Q: This is your ninth studio album. It's not supposed to be this good.
A: I should put you in a little box and take you everywhere with me. I really appreciate that. I just like making these things.
Q: "Weather" might contain some of your most personal work yet. Did you know you were going to reveal so much going into it?
A: Not really. I guess if I did think about that, it wouldn't come out. In my mind I'm already somewhere else. I don't think about it that much.
Q: But it just came out.
A: I know. It's so weird. I'm in a whole other head space. The songs can exist on their own without me having to be in that certain place. I just did a tour, and I slowly found myself totally changing all the songs.
Q: You once said you don't want to have a hit because if you had to do the same song every night, the same way, you'd shoot yourself.
A: Right in the head.
Q: I'm a little bit worried because the song "Dirty World" might be a hit.
A: Catch yourself. That's a bad word.
Q: You're the one who ... got 10 Grammy nominations.
A: Look where that's going. That will soon be in the past. That's great. I feel really proud of those things. But, like I said, I would shoot myself.
Q: So let me get this straight: Even though you put out albums, you're not interested in having hits, winning awards or even playing your own songs?
A: I get how it all works, and it would provide more security in my job. But I try to keep that out of my mind so I can think about the thing that makes it fun -- and that's making the music.