's debut album twists and turns through so many genres -- R&B, pop, jazz, hip-hop -- that it's hard to put a finger on just where she wants to take its 13 songs. That she also spins conventional racial and sexual identity here makes Plantation Lullabies
an occasionally overwhelming -- as well as a vibrantly sophisticated -- listen. Ndegéocello
defies labels throughout, tagging her slinking and crawling songs with a rubbery flow that's just as rooted in '70s funky soul as it is in '90s hip-hop culture. The best songs here -- "If That's Your Boyfriend (He Wasn't Last Night)," "Dred Loc," and "Outside Your Door" -- work their way into their grooves with a seamless, and almost uniform, bounce. It can be a bit derivative (for all of Ndegéocello
's genre-crossing, she always seems to go back to the same musical blueprint), but most of the time it's just about as boundary-busting and as affecting as '90s R&B gets.