"Rip it ’til dawn, flip it ’til dawn. Hip Hop
is the fix, or else we be gone"
Ladybug Mecca, "Where I’m From"
The mid-90’s saw a great change in Hip Hop as
we knew it. Trading in Adidas for Timbs, and gold ropes for bubblegoose jackets,
the culture took a turn into a different direction. The Golden Age was born,
where braggin’ rites went beyond punchlines, and real lyrics came to life. Never
before did both intellect AND street credibility permeate the music as it did
during that era. From the Golden Age came Digable Planets, a group who’s success
and popularity came and went, but left a permanent mark on Hip Hop and set a
standard for future emcees to follow. Now, Digable’s former femme fatale, Ladybug
Mecca is back! Armed with a Grammy and a conscious mind, Ladybug Mecca is ready
to place her twist back on Hip Hop and reaffirm the reputation of not only the
Female Emcee, but the Emcee as a whole. In this in-depth interview, Ladybug
Mecca discusses life, culture, and her long awaited album, "Rebirth of
AllHipHop: First off, welcome back! You’ve
Ladybug Mecca: Awww thanks!
AllHipHop: Briefly, what has been going with
your life and career following the release of "Blowout Comb"?
Ladybug Mecca: During the recording of "Blowout
Comb", I discovered that my mother was terminally ill. Shortly after recording
that, she passed away. So that was kind of the immediate thing that comes to
mind since "Blowout Comb". As well as the death of my father a few
months later. Between that and taking the time off to deal with the emotions
of that, and just looking for answers and having children and getting married.
A lot has happened. It’s been a beautiful, very eye opening journey.
AllHipHop: After what happened dealing with Red
Ant, your former record label, what made you decide to come back and start recording
Ladybug Mecca: I would never let an experience
like that completely discourage me from what I came back to do in this life.
So, it’s my calling and just a matter of really just making the right decisions
as far as business is concerned. The best place for me to put my music, or funnel
my music through would be through an independent company. I basically left from
that experience and kept it moving.
AllHipHop: So how is Nu-Paradigm treating you,
Ladybug Mecca: They just allow me the freedom
to be who I am; I feel great. It’s not all cookies and candy all the time,
because of course when you’re dealing with other people, you’re dealing
with other people’s opinions and viewpoints. But, it’s not an unhealthy
relationship. It’s very positive and healthy. So they’re treating
me great and I’m treating them great!
AllHipHop: That’s great.
Ladybug Mecca: Yeah we love each other, we’re
in love right now! laughs
AllHipHop: That’s what it’s about!
Ladybug Mecca: Yeaaaaaah. laughs
AllHipHop: Now, "Rebirth of Mec", the
long awaited album, last we heard was scheduled for a Fall release, is that
still holding firm?
Ladybug Mecca: Yeah, still scheduled for Fall.
AllHipHop: What can we expect from this album?
Ladybug Mecca: Wow, many many colors, many emotions.
Many different styles of music. Fusing different genres of music together in
a sensible, experimental way. I’m also able to explore my singing voice.
So there’s a lot of singing going on, rhyming too. I was able to sing in
Portuguese and sing in English and just really express the vastness of who I
am. And I just love it, it’s like one of my other babies that has just
been in the womb for a long time.
AllHipHop: Will there be any of the Ladybug Mecca
that we knew from Digable Planets, style-wise?
Ladybug Mecca: Oh yeah, no doubt. But, an evolved
Ladybug Mecca. My flow is still the same kind of way I guess. My cadences are
kind of just different from other MC’s. All of that is still the same,
because that’s just who I am. I got to really experiment with my rhyming
and have kind of fallen somewhere in between rhyming and singing on the album.
So I got to really expand and evolve as an MC over the years, and I’m able
to display that on this record. But there is definitely that Ladybug that people
can relate to, but just understand the growth and its gonna make sense.
AllHipHop: Will there still be the social consciousness
that you’ve been known for?
Ladybug Mecca: Oh no doubt. I’m a conscious
being and very aware of my environment, my surroundings, and that hasn’t
changed. That’s who I am, it wasn’t a gimmick, for any of us (Digable
Planets) I believe, so it definitely hasn’t changed. And with having children,
you can’t help but be more conscious of your environment and what’s
AllHipHop: Production-wise, who can we expect?
Ladybug Mecca: Myself. There is a group of brothas
out of Los Angeles called Sa-Ra. There is a gentleman here in New York named
Shane Conrey. There is another gentleman from the West coast name Mad Aris.
I collaborated with a lot of up and coming cutting edge credibly talented people
that you’ve never heard of, but you will be hearing of. I don’t really
go for the name brand and the labels in the department store, I go for the sound
and what feels good and what speaks to me. Then I can write to it, you know?
AllHipHop: So true. What was it about their production
style that was so fitting to your sound?
Ladybug Mecca: Like I said, it’s (sound)
not really one particular genre that you’ll be able to place my album within.
It’s all of my influences; who I am. So the first music that I was introduced
to was Brazilian music, and then from there when I got to make my own decision
as to what I wanted to listen to you had the Stevie Wonder and the Jackson 5
and Earth Wind and Fire. So it’s basically me since I’ve been on this
planet this time around, all of those influences musically. It’s Jazz,
Samba, Hip Hop, New Wave. There’s a real strong New Wave presence on my
record that is mixed with Hip Hop. So that’s kind of in a nutshell what
it is. It’s a very diverse album. I’m sure there are artists who have
done it, but I can’t think of any right now off the top. pause It’s
a very unique album.
AllHipHop: Out of all of the tracks on the album,
which are you the proudest
Ladybug Mecca: You know how it works for me?
Every time after I finish recording a song, that’s the one I like the best
for like two weeks. laughs And then when I record the next one, that’s
the one I love. So they all hold like a real special place in my life because
they’re different emotions, there’s not one particular emotion that
I gravitate towards. I don’t always gravitate towards peace and contentment
because there’s always a negative side to balance things out; it’s
natural and healthy. But, I did a song a couple of weeks ago about the extremely
abusive relationship that I was in and then the next week I turned around and
I did a song about peace and contentment and accepting what people call death.
It’s not death, but accepting the fact that we’re all gonna transcend
sooner or later. And it’s a feel-good song, It’s a good song, not
something to be scared of or anything like that laughs. So there is not really
one particular song that I just love the most.
AllHipHop: Will there be a tour to promote the
Ladybug Mecca: Yeah definitely, I don’t
know when but we’re still recording. We’re almost finished and I can’t
wait for that part. I can’t wait to get back out there and just connect
with people on a physical level again. That was always so rewarding for me.
AllHipHop: Having your South American roots proving
heavy influence on this album, are you trying to push Hip Hop in a new direction?
Ladybug Mecca: Not consciously laughs. I’m
not really trying to guide it into that particular fusion. It’s actually
started already a long time ago but Hip Hop has just had an influence on all
types of music and other types of music have always had an influence in Hip
Hop. So it’s gonna do it naturally, because Hip Hop is spreading all around
the globe. It’s all different cultures and countries and they’re gonna
manifest their own interpretation of Hip Hop. That’s what I mean by it
doing it naturally. I’m sure I’m a miniscule element to the
evolution and that’s great!
AllHipHop: At the time you came out with Digable
Planets, you were Grammy award winning, coming from the Golden Age of Hip Hop.
Coming back out for the second time around, did you feel you had to reinvent
your style at all to keep up with the times?
Ladybug Mecca: That’s a good question. No,
not at all, because I don’t look at TV or listen to the music that’s
out now as far as Hip Hop, and use that as a reference point. I don’t do
that. I’m not a trend follower so I don’t have to follow the trend
whether I’m going to be in or out.
AllHipHop: Have you dulled the content of your
lyrics since having children?
Ladybug Mecca: No because I’ve never really
been one to do a whole lot of cursing. Actually the second album (with Digable
Planets) was probably the most that we’ve ever cursed and we probably said
sh*t a few times. I said that like once on the album so far. But, I’m just
not really a foul mouthed person, that’s not who I am so I’m not gonna
come across like that on my record. I didn’t consciously make the decision
to change or to be or to not be a certain way, I just am.
AllHipHop: What’s your opinion on Hip Hop
Ladybug Mecca: It’s cool, I mean Hip Hop
has become a viable entity. A way for brothas and sistas to make money but at
the same time, it’s still a machine that exploits and destroys and perpetrates
a negative image. I still love it though, and I just know I’ll help bring
it a balance. There’s definitely
stuff out there that I love about it. But I know that I am definitely going
to be bringing a different element and what people would consider the positive
content of it.
AllHipHop: As a female in Hip Hop, you’re
really needed, what’s your whole opinion on what’s become of our women
in Hip Hop? For example, Lauryn (Hill) putting down the mic, picking up the
Ladybug Mecca: Life is life and she’s (Lauryn)
going through things; she’s on her path. I still love her to death as an
artist and I’m not gonna flip flop how I feel about her because I over
and innerstand what it’s like to be in a relationship with a man. I overstand
what it’s like to be an emotional introverted woman. Hey man, I mean there
are some really dope female MC’s out there that I really respect. I respect
Eve, I mean I respect all of them really; I just overstand where they are. Where
they are musically reflects where they are in their lives. So I’m not really
here to bash anybody or say anything negative or any of that. I just have an
understanding and am at peace with the way things are because I know there’s
always gonna be a balance. Something will come and balance it out. I know that’s
why I’m here, I know that’s why India Arie is here; I know that’s
why Lauryn Hill is here despite all of our issues. We all have issues, but we’re
still gonna bring a balance to it. And we need negative in order to learn from.
So it’s all good in the end. As long as there’s a balance. If there’s
no balance then there’s a problem.