Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Missy Elliott: The Cookbook [Atlantic/Gold Mind, 2005]
On this benchmark album that half the beatoisie will sleep on because it has no "Work It" and Timbaland, after all, was the genius (which he was)--this benchmark album that given the vagaries of fashion could initiate a permanent commercial decline--Elliott showcases the musical health of African American pop. Oldschoolfreshbeathiphopr&b--run through Elliott's considerable talent and good heart or reasonable facsimile, these are meaningless categories. Elliott's disinclination to give it up to gangsta's thrill cult or black pop's soft-focus porn, plus her proven ability to work a good beat when she gets one, leads her naturally to a collection that ebbs and flows, peaks and dips, and pokes fun at any canon of taste you got. It's vital beginning to end--vital even when it's misguided, a matter on which your judgments may differ from mine, fine with her. A-