Missy Elliott - Under Construction (Elektra)
Missy Elliott has churned out some great hip-hop in her time and by her own rules. Which is great, seeing as she isn't your stereotypical hip-hop, but her main drawback has been her level of consistency. Despite all the great songs she's written, produced and released, she's had her fair share of dummies as well. Take the opening track on "Under Construction", 'Go to the floor', as a prime example. It's built on a fuzzed-up staccato riff, but isn't as explosive as the title would suggest. Instead it's actually pretty lacklustre, especially when compared to the likes of 'Slide' and 'Work it'.
'Work it', the leadoff single is a trippy, Cypress Hill style melody, rewound vocals, stop/start, spitfire lyrics and a funky bass line. Not as instantaneous as, say, 'Get UR freak on', but easily as catchy. About three quarters of the way through, the next big track hits. If big bounce beats and toe-tapping basslines are your thing, then 'Slide' should please. It's easily the album's standout track and a sure shot single.
And like all hip-hop albums this is filled with high-profile guests. There's Method Man ('Bring the pain'), Ludacris (''Gossip folks'), Jay-Z ('Back in the day'), a Beyonce Knowles ('Nothing out there') and a surprisingly boring performance from TLC ('Can you hear me'). As a tribute to both Aaliyah and Lisa 'Left-eye' Lopez, it's sadly dull and lacking in real emotion. Not the sort of epitaph they would have wanted, I'm sure. 'Nothing out there' is more like a Beyonce solo number than a Missy Elliott track, and brings little to the album. It's a slow piano-led love-song, which would probably be fine if it weren't for Beyonce's annoying vocal olympics.
As an album, "Caution", would probably have been a better title. I must say I'm disappointed.