N’DAMBI / “Insecurity”
N'Dambi hails from Dallas, Texas. Started music when she was a chlld. Through the South Dallas Cultural Center she hooked up with Erykah Badu. By then she had adopted the name N’Dambi (“most beautiful”) and was a collaborator with Ms. Badu. N’Dambi went on to be a featured backing singer and in 1999, N’Dambi produced her first recording, Little Lost Girls Blues. In 2002 she followed with the double-CD Tunin’ Up & Co-Signin’. Then nothing for a long, long while—in the music industry anything over two years is approaching too long. But what’s a girl to do?
Back in early 2000 I led writing workshops at the South Dallas Cultural Center (hey Ms. Vicky, with your badddd self!). Would see N’Dambi from time to time. Bought both her first and second releases and then… well, like I said, then there was a dry spell.
On one of my deep trolling internet expeditions I ran across signals that N’Dambi had a new release produced in Japan or Amsterdam (I never could get straight which it was). Eventually I thought I tracked it down but then I saw conflicting info about track listings and such. Eventually I got hold of A Weird Kinda Wonderful, an eight track EP that had six songs and two remixes on it.
Also got word that N’Dambi has signed to Stax Records and has a new release coming in early 2009. Looking forward but meanwhile there’s this wonderful weirdness that is available.
The music business is a meat grinder. You go in fresh, and generally come out (if you’re lucky) jaded, convinced that the music business ought to be called the “business” business because there’s precious little music to be found there—mostly it’s all about using people to make money.
Any artist who keeps on producing fresh music is exceptional. For every one who does, there are at least a hundred horror stories of those who went under trying to make it to the other side. I was always fearful that N’Dambi would end up being one of those horror stories.
She’s a conscious sista. Wears her hair how she was born, washes it and lets the weather do the rest. Unless you’re a young woman going natural in a long hair world, you probably only have a faint impression of how hard it is. Plus, sister love is physically attractive—at a time when you physically got to be at dime to get serious attention, she’s a solid gold quarter.
But on top of all that there are the issues she sings about, the way her songs delve into the crevices of modern life, prying open secret boxes that have been sealed by pain, hard times and the misery of failure. Added to that near psychotic insistence on truth telling, is her deep husky voice which just sets off all kinds of freaky starbursts in the average dude’s head. Plus her parents were ministers… and, well, let’s just say I was always concerned…
I’m still concerned. I know how hard the business can be, how it can wear you down, wear you out, grind into your skin and become a dirt you can’t wash off. So I listen to these songs and know that she’s battling with demons, and hopefully, the upcoming release at least signifies that she is surviving with her soul intact if not actually winning the war. N'Dambi has developed into one of our more serious songwriters. Check her out.
“Young Lady” should be played at every high school graduation. Letting the young women know that the world can (and ought to be) their home, forget anchors to a particular city or town, forget national flag waving, become a citizen of the world.
“Insecurity” is another one for daily consumption, another one young women need to internalize. I love that song.
“Get On Up” is a definite get-your-shit-and-split song. Guaranteed most relationships won’t work over the long haul, you got to know when to hold on and when to… “Get On Up” is about making that decision. And enforcing it!
“Stay” is the exact inverse of the previous, it’s not always about splitting up, some times it’s really about holding on through the rough spots. This one has a strong sexual subtext and on the last half of the song N’Dambi goes overtly sexual except instead of moans and hollers, she shares whispers and long, slow deep breaths.
And then we have a remix of “Young Lady.” I’ve always wished for stronger instrumentation for N’Dambi and she’s got it on this release. The opening version is seriously funky, the closing version is seriously soulful. You can make the call about which one you like; me, myself, I likes both.
As a bonus I’ve thrown a Yam Who remix of “Call Me” into the middle of the selections. This is a song from Tunin’ Up & Co-Signin’ and the Yam Who fellows definitely work their remix magic on this one. Officially it’s a bootleg, so it’s not easy to cop, which is why I’ve added it in the jukebox.
Consider this an extended shout out, a note of encouragement to a strong sister—even the strongest of us need reinforcement. Just want to make sure she can continue to make her beautiful music. Give thanx.
—Kalamu ya Salaam
This entry was posted on Monday, December 1st, 2008 at 1:12 am and is filed under Contemporary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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