Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Missy Misdemeanor Elliott [extended]

  • Supa Dupa Fly [The Gold Mind, Inc./EastWest, 1997] A-
  • Da Real World [The Gold Mind, Inc./EastWest, 1999] ***
  • Miss E . . . So Addictive [The Goldmind, Inc./Elektra, 2001] ***
  • Under Construction [Elektra, 2002] ***
  • This Is Not a Test! [Elektra, 2003] A
  • The Cookbook [Atlantic/Gold Mind, 2005] A-

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Supa Dupa Fly [The Gold Mind, Inc./EastWest, 1997]
Like a lot of young black pop artists, Missy deals in aural aura rather than song, which means that even after you connect--as I did with "Izzy Izzy Ahh" well before "The Rain" hit MTV--she can take awhile to absorb. Innovative though it is, the video obscures the musical originality of "The Rain," its spacing and layering simultaneously sparer and busier than anything ordinarily allowed on the radio, and without Ann Peebles hooking you in, the rest of the album poses the same kind of congenial challenge. Sooner or later its pleasantness reveals itself as erotic--explicitly sexual enough to establish an atmosphere in which pleasure is something that happens simply and spontaneously between friendly free agents. There's no sense of conquest or surrender, humiliation or ecstasy or sin. It's summertime, and the living is easy. A-

Da Real World [The Gold Mind, Inc./EastWest, 1999]
No more Missy Nice Girl ("Busa Rhyme," "Smooth Chick"). ***

Miss E . . . So Addictive [The Goldmind, Inc./Elektra, 2001]
a little too worried about her weight ("Lick Shots," "Get Ur Freak On") ***

Missy Elliott: Under Construction [Elektra, 2002]
hardcore to the booty, slimfast to the brain ("Work It," "Bring the Pain") ***

Missy Elliott: This Is Not a Test! [Elektra, 2003]
"I've got the Martin Luther King fever," she declares injudiciously, only soon she's burning up, delivering the old-school album she claimed last time. Beats-first like Run-D.M.C. if Jam Master Jay had been hooked up like Timbaland, it's clinched by Elliott's innocent belief in her mission, which boils down to world conquest. For hooks she calls in more platinum guests than the entire genre supported in 1990 and cites aphorisms that embody history if you know your Salt-N-Pepa and embody fresh if you don't. Like MLK, she preaches--against crack dealers and all their unholy bling-bling. And when she reaches out to her people, she grabs the sisters first. A

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-