Me'shell Ndegeocello adopts the persona of a cheating man's mistress in "If That's Your Boyfriend (He Wasn't Last Night)." On the surface the song seems to be a diss track toward other women, especially based on pure lyrical content; however, further examination of the text (and specifically the accompanying video below) provides evidence of a commentary on the stereotypical dependence of woman on men in general.
The main idea of “If That’s Your Boyfriend” is obvious from a quick read of the song’s lyrics. Me’shell becomes a character who steals women’s boyfriends from them without hesitation or remorse. In the song’s chorus, Ndegeocello’s sing-song tone (“Boyfriend, boyfriend, yes I had your boy friend”) taunts the girlfriends of the men she has slept with in a way that is strikingly juvenile, yet viciously tears at them all the same. The rapper’s lyrics are brash and confident:
“Now late at night he calls me on my telephone
That's why when you call him all you get is a busy busy tone
Grew upset cuz you one stuck up bitch
Maybe he needed a change a switch”
In her essay Cheryl Keyes notes “four distinct categories of women rappers emerg[ing] in rap music performance: ‘Queen Mother,’ ‘Fly Girl,’ ‘Sista with Attitude,’ and ‘Lesbian.’” Her placement of Ndegeocello into the final category should cause the listener to pause before he or she assumes that Ndegeocello’s persona has any legitimacy in the real world. Partially because Ndegeocello is openly lesbian, I would argue that this track is less about the aforementioned exploits of her persona and more about the women she affects. These victims are visibly diverse, yet they are unified by their jealousy, pain, and self-hate. Such feelings are strikingly portrayed in the music video by lipstick-stained cheeks and tearful confessions (“Once you have a child, suicide is no longer an option”). Each woman’s life revolves around pleasing “her” man, simultaneously fighting off his other potential love interests. In this way women allow themselves to be placed on an inferior level, not directly by men, but instead by other women. “I’m a very, very jealous person; I don’t like other women,” comments one woman, while another concedes: “I want to be in love.” The rapper, portrayed as a “strong” masculine figure in the video, urges other women to realize how easily manipulated they are by men and other women alike; her song is a wake-up call.