With her million-watt smile and her two-tons-of-fun persona, Missy Elliott has always been the ultimate Happy Hip-Hopper. She’s gone and lost a lot of weight since the release of Miss E…So Addictive, but she proves she’s still the same spunky, funky gal with her newest, Under Construction, an infectious hybrid of old-skool hip-hop and up-to-the minute R&B that picks up right where her last album left off. Raucous, rollicking and not a little bit raunchy, it takes inspiration from the good old days of the genre, when rhyme was all about breaks, beats and good-natured battles.
Missy’s longtime collaborator-producer Tim “Timbaland” Mosley sets the tone with plenty of old-skool samples, then infuses them with innumerable beeps, blips, noises and effects, bringing the groove firmly into the 21st Century. “Back in the Day” pays homage to the hip-hop’s fun-loving infancy, while Missy channels the spirit of Roxanne Shante (or is it The Real Roxanne?) in the giddy “Funky Fresh Dressed.” The ultra-smooth “Bring the Pain” reworks an old Method Man track with delicious results, and the grinding “Gossip Folks” even samples the kitschy classic, “Double Dutch Bus.”
Not everything here centers on a fondness for British Knights and gold rope chains, however. In “Work It,” the omnipresent first single, Missy gleefully throws her thang down, flips it and reverses it with a futuristic edge that’s echoed in the trippy “Slide” and “Ain’t That Funny.”
Throughout, Missy continues on her one-woman mission to put the “fun” back in “funky.” She may have slimmed herself down, but, thankfully, her music is as phat as ever.
Michael Rucker has written for Time Out New York and In Touch magazines. He is a regular contributor to Gay City News.
(Appeared in Gay City News)