Mendi Lewis Obadike was born in Palo Alto, California while her parents were completing graduate work at Stanford. Mendi grew up writing poems, singing in bands and acting in theater as a child. Early on she experimented making songs with cassette overdubs of her Casio keyboard and computer graphics on a Commodore computer. Her mother’s research in linguistics and father’s stint as the founding director of Black Studies at the University of California at Berkeley sparked her interest in language and culture. Later Mendi studied Latin, became fluent in Spanish and lived and studied in Venezuela and later the Dominican Republic. Mendi wrote her first play and edited Focus literary journal while living in Atlanta and studying at Spelman College. She graduated with honors in English and was awarded a fellowship to pursue a Ph.D. in Literature and Sound Theory at Duke University and joined the Cave Canem Poetry Collective.