Ladybug Mecca wears many hats. She is a single mother, singer, and emcee. And now she is adding DJ to that list. As 1/3 of the incomparable group Digable Planets, Mecca, as she prefers to go by, is gearing up for a new chapter in her life. As an artist that is meticulous about her craft, she is expanding her creative mind to venture into a territory that most aren’t used to her going. But Mecca navigates her own lane without time restriction and she refuses to do anything other than what is suitable for her artistic vision.
KN.com was given the opportunity to politic with DJ LadybugMek about her new venture as a DJ, the current status of Digable Planets, and what she’s releasing next.
Arasia: Hi there! How are you?
Mecca: I’m doing well, thanks!
Arasia: Do you prefer for me to call you Mecca or Ladybug?
Mecca: Mecca is fine.
Arasia: Great! Well, I was pleasantly surprised when I received the press release about you stepping into the DJ world. So tell me, how long have you been DJing and who or what got you into that?
Mecca: It’s been about two years now. I’ve pretty much been around it for so long…just being in Hip Hop and growing up as a Hip Hop child. I used to make mixtapes when I was a young teenager…back when we had cassettes. I used to make tapes for myself and everywhere I would go, rather I was in someone else’s house or car, I always took over the radio and would play my cassettes before I learned how to spin. I was doing it with the tape recording so I guess it was just a natural evolution for me. But then one day, it just hit me. I had gotten really close with the master, Prince Paul, and I know he had been DJing since he was about 11 or 12, so I thought he was the perfect person to teach me and he was down. I had a few lessons from him and it was just very natural for me. He taught me some really cool tricks and he still continues to guide me but it was just really easy and fun for me. Just being a creative person and musician…you know as long as you have rhythm and are able to bring records in and have a good ear for selection, I think anyone can do it, really. It was a great feeling to do my first show at the Shrine, which was in Chicago.
Arasia: Wow…your first show was at the Shrine?
Mecca: Yep! That was my very first show outside of my basement. (Laughs).
Arasia: I’m from Chicago, so I am very familiar with the Shrine…how was that experience?
Mecca: It was incredible. I was nervous but I was sill in control. And the crowd was there to enjoy music and thankfully, I could read them really well and was able to play stuff that they kept losing their minds for. The booth was a little high but I constantly saw hands in the air and I could see them dancing. It was such an incredible feeling…a very powerful feeling.
Arasia: That actually speaks volumes because Chicago is a very tough crowd especially when it comes to our DJ’s. We are a very critical, picky city.
Arasia: Yes. We go hard in the Chi so kudos to you!
Mecca: Thank you! I started off with some Camp Lo,” Luchinni” and then I played some Black Moon so I started way back. I didn’t know what the crowd was going to be like but I think they really appreciated hearing some older stuff. I was getting ready to bring it into some current stuff but it was Timbuck2’s turn to get on. It’s his night so he kind of kicked me off early (Laughs). But it was good…it was great. I just want to do it more and more. I love music no matter what genre…it just depends on if it speaks to me. I can play any kind of event and enjoy it.
Arasia: So what musical genre do you find yourself spinning more?
Mecca: Lately, I’ve been leaning toward that 90’s Hip Hop but then I take it to the newer school stuff that I really like… I like Pac Div, The Cool Kids, Charles Hamilton, but then I find myself getting into certain, I guess you would call electronica…Little Dragon and Sa-Ra…certain artists that aren’t the pop Hip Hop that’s on the radio. What plays on mtvU is probably along the lines of what I spin.
Arasia: So how would you describe yourself as a DJ in comparison to who you are as a singer/emcee?
Mecca: Hmmm, well, I think as an artist, I love so many different genres of music but I can’t do all of that. But as a DJ, I’m still able to connect and still be a part of the artists and songs that I support and have a strong connection to. In a sense, I can have a total different experience of love with DJing than creating music. I know my limitations with my voice and creating my own sound is different…it’s an individualistic thing. It’s never going to be like anything else. So that’s kind of a special place in and of itself to me.
Arasia: So do you feel you have more freedom as a DJ?
Mecca: Yeah, definitely. But there is freedom in both. It’s just a different kind of freedom. You get to express yourself and just lay it on the line and put everything out there. I don’t play the normal typical stuff. I have to play what I connect with so I’m introducing a lot of new music to people that they normally wouldn’t have heard before.
Arasia: Are we going to see you release any material as a DJ? Or host any mixtapes or anything like that?
Mecca: Yeah, I am going to put out a mixtape of my own. I’m formulating it all right now so I don’t have a date but I do want to get something together so the people can kind of hear what I am in to. I just really want to get it out there to the people. I’ve hosted a mixtape before…it was this DJ named Moe Choi. It was around me rapping and rhyming over different rare remixes from Dr. Dre to Siouxsie & The Banshees.
Arasia: What was the name of it?
Mecca: It’s called, Ladybug Mecca-Unfolding The Serious Mystery.
Arasia: Where can we find it?
Mecca: Let me see if I can dig one up and get it to you. It wasn’t released on a label or anything…he just kind of put it out on his own in New York City. I know he was selling it on a website…I can’t think of the name of it right now. I have a couple of copies so I can just burn it and get it over to you.
Arasia: That would be great! I would love to check it out! Now, I have to ask, what’s going on with Digable Planets?
Mecca: They are on an indefinite time out right now. There’s nothing that’s coming. Not with me involved in it at least.
Arasia: So that chapter is permanently closed?
Mecca: Well, you never know. I don’t want to ever say it’s fully closed but you know, for right now, it’s not anything that’s going to produce anything with me having a part of it.
Arasia: You all had such an incredible chemistry and run when you were together but it’s cool to see that you all are still doing music on an individual basis.
Mecca: Yeah, it’s good. You know, we did what we did. I think it lived its course and I think all of the really good bands implode after a while and we were no exception. I will always have nothing but love for those brothers even though we can’t get together.
Arasia: And people grow a part and have creative differences. Sometimes, people just head in different directions.
Mecca: And we are human beings and there are all different kinds of reasons why people can’t get it together. Sometimes, it’s creative reasons and sometimes its just personality. We got together when we were very, very young. There was a lot of immaturity, naïveté, and a trusting way about me. And I had to learn a lot of lessons from being that naïve and trusting.
Arasia: I totally understand. I’ve seen a lot of that. Now, I read your bio and there was a quote that stuck out to me. It said you were rewriting your agreement with reality. How exactly are you doing that?
Mecca: My goal in life is to continually evolve. With the group—there was a lot of non-acceptance of who I was a woman…as a full-blown independent spirit. And you can’t long for something in the past because it’s non-existent. We are always recreating and reinventing…I feel like we should be but not everyone does. A lot of people become very stuck while on this planet and in this experience, so I always reach to grow, change, and evolve. I always feel like my most significant times on this plane are yet to come. Some people go through different schools of thought…you know, like religion…seeking the truth. You might take your Shahada and become Muslim but then realize Metaphysics or Kinetic school of thought is more your thing. So you are rewriting your agreement with this reality and it’s fine. Not everyone overstands that so consequently, you may lose friends but you will also gain new ones.
Arasia: Indeed. One of your fans wanted me to ask you, what do you think of emcees aging out of the game and touring the old school circuit simply do to their age?
Mecca: What’s the old school circuit? (Laughing).
Arasia: Well, we have a lot of shows in Chicago that are surrounded by this whole, “taking it back to the old school or old school rap legends” mantra. Things like that which are fine but the way they are marketed somewhat implies that these people aren’t relevant anymore or currently putting out music.
Mecca: Oh yeah, well, I personally don’t label myself. I feel like that is just placing limitations and I feel like I can do anything whenever I want. And time and all that…you’re washed up or your time has come and gone talk; I don’t apply that to my life. If that’s what people choose to associate artists with, then that’s their decision. I can’t judge anyone for that if that’s there way of thinking. I know I am going to always continue to put music out and I don’t feel any kind of pressure to hurry up…like I only have this span of window to do something. I’m not going to be here forever but it’s just not a part of my thinking. I don’t have any judgments on those who do place those labels on people but to me, that’s just real limiting like I said. I just can’t…I don’t operate like that. I’m sure it could be hurtful to those artists that have released material back then and maybe don’t have the mainstream visibility right now. It’s all a matter of your perception. The younger immature people saying, you are old school or that’s old school… that can have a negative connotation to it but it doesn’t bother me. I don’t even know what that means…
Arasia: Who have been some of the DJs that have inspired you?
Mecca: This kid, Supreme, who used to be my DJ when I was touring for my last solo album…he was crazy. He would do magic tricks during his set. He would set things on fire and make things disappear…he just did incredible stuff that I’ve never seen before. He’s definitely an inspiration. Jazzy Joyce…she toured with us during the second album, Spinderalla of course…all the female DJ’s are very inspirational. I think DJ Rasheeda is also fly.
Arasia: So what’s next for Mecca?
Mecca: I’m always creating music so I’m working on a couple of things. Nothing is etched in stone in terms of when it’s going to be released. I’m not really in a rush when it comes to that. I’m working on something that will be released in Japan. I’m going to do a DJ tour out there. But I am always creating music. I have a nice little home studio that I am proud of…there is more coming from me. It’s coming. (Laughs).
Arasia: Great! Well definitely keep in touch so we can keep up with what’s going on with you. I found you on Twitter, so I will see what’s up with you.
Mecca: You know, I just signed up for it so I don’t have like 8 million friends. I’m not tweeting every time I take a piss. (Laughs). But I am on there saying how I feel sometimes. I tend to be a private person but I utilize it more when I’m traveling or if something inspires me. I might be spinning in my basement so I might post a song that inspired me and people might share with me. So it’s cool.
Arasia: I feel you. I hate Twitter but it’s a part of the job. I just can’t have too much of it. I always say I have to unplug myself from the matrix and get to real life.
Mecca: Yeah, I find myself getting more interested and excited about the third dimension but its cool. I also love being able to connect to the fans like that…to have one-on-one conversations with them…I like that about it.
Arasia: Oh yeah, that’s awesome and they love that! Well, it was such a pleasure speaking with you.
Mecca: Yes, me too. Thank you so much. Let’s keep in touch. Thanks for this…I really appreciate it sis.
For booking info: DJ Ladybug Mek – contact Moonbaby @ firstname.lastname@example.org 310.999.4222