Monday, Jul 25 2005 | 12:51

And so they say where’s Mec?

“I want listeners to come into my world,” says Mecca of her solo debut, Trip The Light Fantastic, on the independent, self-determining Nu-Paradigm Entertainment. “I’d like them to feel they’ve entered into a new dimension, somewhere they’ve been before but can’t remember yet.”

Mecca’s world is a place filled with love, brightness and optimism, a location where genres are broken and spirits are lifted. “I am here to make a difference,” states the sensuous singer and rapper about her life and art. “I’ve always been fascinated by things that are innovative, and at this point in my life I’m about expressing everything I’m about.”

She is a feminine woman who is regularly rewriting her agreement with reality. She’s constantly striving to educate and better herself, always reaching for development, but very aware of her past.

Prominent in Mecca’s history is her role in Digable Planets, a communal clan of poet-rappers that made “hip-hop bebob” popular in the ’90s. Alongside her two male partners she burst onto the scene like a quiet storm, blowing away expectations and defining a new stance for ladies who followed on the mike. “Mecca The Ladybug makes great strides in proving women in rap don’t need to scream and swagger in order to be tough and assertive,” wrote Larry Flick in Billboard magazine. “Mecca never raises her voice but always is a commanding figure.”

The crew’s 1993 unveiling, Reachin’ (a new refutation of time and space), sold platinum and included samples from Curtis Mayfield, Sonny Rollins and other pacesetters. The single “Rebirth Of Slick (“Cool Like Dat) was a Top 10 smash that won a Grammy award for Best Rap Performance by a duo or group. The trio also scored one Billboard award, among other accolades, and toured the world with the likes of Sade. Its follow-up, Blowout Comb, followed the group’s creative light to another singular level of inspiration.

Next came some reordering and reorganizing for Mecca. She entered into several unfulfilling associations before deciding to create the album she wanted on her own terms. “There were so many people trying to impose their wills on me,” she remembers. “I just wanted the freedom of an independent situation, and that’s what I have with Nu-Paradigm.”

Mecca has seen lots and grown greatly in her short life. She has worked minimum-wage jobs and been a star. She has cried over the loss of both her parents and celebrated the birth of three children.

Family is important to her, but she’s not sheltered from the realities of life. She’s spiritually minded but has a witty intellect.

On Trip The Light Fantastic she bares soul and explores her journey from innocence into sense. She pairs her thoughtful words with an eclectic blend of music: breezy Afro-Brazilian rhythms cross-pollinate with hip-hop beats; fiery rock riffs and post-bop blue notes meet and prosper.

Co-produced and overseen by Mecca and Nu Paradigm CEO Nkosi Gray, the set features Martin Luther, and producers include Shane Conry, Isreal, Sa-Ra, from San Francisco-based Rebel Soul Music.

The track “Last Train” details what makes the album’s only match up work over a soultry track and a dazzling soundscape. Martin Luther, who has been recently touring with the roots puts it this way: “You got me huffin and puffin and chuggin like a choo choo train.”

“Remember When” drifts on the memory of the artist’s first spiritual love experience. “He was a mature, responsible member of male species,” Mecca half laughs. “No magazine rack of issues. He truly touched my soul-I had never experienced that before-and he allowed me to touch his.”

Another song, “Step Up Wise,” boom-bangs to message about education and empowerment. “If you want the truth,” Mecca explains, “you have to step up wise.” Being wise means paying attention to your inner god/goddess and listening to the many great spirits that offer protection and guidance at will.

All in all, Trip The Light Fantastic celebrates life. As Mecca told writer Cheo Hodari Coker: “Creating music is like giving birth, and your baby is a gift to the world.”

That child is an instrument of peace, and “Trip The Light Fantastic” sends “peace out” to the planet.

The album Ladybug MeccaTrip The Light Fantastic” (Nu Paradigm) is going to be released July 25, 2005.

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