Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Other "Lost" Review

I wrote the following review of Missy Elliott's album Under Construction back in 2002. Like the review of Cee-Lo's debut album, it was published in Blackboard. It's never been published on the Internet before today. I'm posting the review in its original form, which is noticeably easier to read than the Cee-Lo review. Enjoy!

CD Review: Missy Elliott - Under Construction
(Originally written in 2002 and presented in its original version)

In the past few years, Hip-Hop has lost many artists: Biggie, 2Pac, Big Pun, Aaliyah, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, and most recently Jam Master Jay. It is fitting then that Missy Elliott’s fourth album “Under Construction” is dedicated to them. Plain and simple, this album is a celebration of Hip-Hop at its most fun, creative, and innovative.

Missy and Timbaland look back to move forward in creating the music on this album. Most of the songs contain at least one sample from classic Hip-Hop songs ranging from Run DMC’s “Peter Piper” on “Work It” to Beastie Boys’ “Paul Revere” on “Funky Fresh Dressed.” A whole song is “reimagined” with “Bring The Pain” which samples the classic Method Man song and even has him contributing a verse. However, this doesn’t mean that the duo’s innovation isn’t present. Timbaland brings the electro-funk to songs like “Ain’t That Funny” and “Slide.” “Play That Beat” sounds only faintly of Timbaland, with its traditional drum pattern and horn sample.

Missy’s lyrics have always been her weakest point, but she continues on her twisted, sometimes silly, yet sexy path for the most part. Beyonce Knowles lends her voice to “Nothing Out There For Me” which has Missy trying to convince Beyonce to go out partying (and leave her man in the process). “P***ycat” isn’t as nasty as the title implies and has Missy worrying about trying to keep her man sexually. When Missy changes it up, she succeeds. “Gossip Folks” (featuring Ludacris) has Missy responding to the various rumors about her in a Cee-Lo-esque flow. “Can You Hear Me” is an emotional collaboration with TLC that pays tribute to both Aaliyah and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. The mutual sadness is evident when Missy sings “I know you in real good hands/With God but damn I miss you/Aaliyah if you see Left Eye/Will ya tell her me and Boz miss her too.”

While not as instantly accessible as her last album, “Miss E...So Addictive,” “Under Construction” is much more personal. Missy openly gives us her thoughts on everything from the meaning of the album title to the controversy surrounding her racier songs in the spoken interludes scattered throughout the album. Her love of Old School Hip-Hop shines through in the samples, shouts of “Missy Elliott exclusive” (a la DJ mixtapes), and the overall party vibe of the album. This all combines to bring a Missy who has changed in many ways, both physically and emotionally, and is as she says “A work in progress.”

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