Missy Elliott
Under Construction
Elektra
2002
B

i’m so fucking bored with this rock critic shit. I mean, I’ve been writing for Stylus for about ... two months. And I’m already, Why should people care what I say. I know, that’s the question every zine asks themselves, and what every reader asks themselves when they’re reading, and that’s the main criticism for ... criticism. But the fact is, this is so true. It’s just blah blah blah — is there any point to adding all of these adjectives? No. Of course not. So now writers think it’s cool to revert back to the stone age with writing. Mmmkay, I can’t think of any more big words, so I’ll just say dope or twisted. What does that even mean? Why can’t you just say ‘good’?


Maybe that’s what rock criticism will be in twenty years. When some publication gets the new record by long-standing arena rock superstars The Strokes, they’ll talk about the old days ... and maybe dash it up with history, as a filler, because, Hey, by then, the next Lester will come along, and he’ll have reinvented rock criticism, and people will be allowed to say "I like this record because it appeals to me and maybe not you," and not have to explain themselves.


Maybe that’s why some publications are, in fact, the best in the rock critic world — because they have recognized by now that no-one gives a shit whether or not you’re expressing what the music sounds like. Yeah, you have blurb-like spots of one-/punch- lines saying how the Olivia Tremor Control "sweep you away to heaven on their glorious three-part harmonies" or something like that, then they apologize and say, Okay, that’s ironic, so Ha ha, we like it ‘cause they’re tongue’s in their cheek. Great. But now we — we as the publication — get all smart-assed, and the review’s funny now. Oh no, the music is pushed to the side. What will you say, The guitars played, as did the bass? Want a cookie? Now that’s important, because I, the reviewer, say so.


The new Missy Elliott record isn’t really the reason for why I felt like I needed to get that — something completely unoriginal, and, uttered by many others — out, but I do find parallels to what I’m trying to communicate here, and what this record is all about.


The usually Missy boasting is here — chiefly on, oh, where to begin, "Work It," with the now famous line, "if you got a big [ELEPHANT SQUALL], let me search it," and "think you can’t handle this budonkadonkdonk," et. al. But, there’s a new Missy ... which I’m kinda not getting so much. This review, which will more than likely get the cold shoulder from ... everyone ... is what I’m giving to what Missy calls what she doesn’t want to be, "Preacher Elliott." Yeah, I have no problems with her pleading for some ass, but the theme of this record seems to be "cool it down." On at least four occasions, she stops the entire song to talk about stopping killing people with hip-hop beefs; once wondering whether or not Tupac, Big Pun, Aaliyah, and Left Eye will come back to earth as entertainers; or something like that. Blah blah. Okay Missy. Lots of people have opinions, and like this review, I appreciate that she has sentiment, but I want some more beats and hot rhymes. And, like this review, why should I care about what you say? Why not the number one Left Eye fan, or something, I wanna hear what she thinks. (No I don’t, but you get it). And when in the middle of a perfectly fine rap with Jay-Z, "Back In The Day," after Hova tells Bill O’Reilly to fuck off, she actually croons, "hip hop has changed / hip hop beefs meant where’s the peppers" or something like that. I guess it’s cool she says "do the prep and cabbage patch," but here’s what I want: the hor-nay, pissed off Missy.


But here’s where I’m going to misstep. Like Missy, my criticism can’t escape its own trappings. For me, that sucks — my review is gonna turn into a bunch of big words from now on — but for Missy, that’s great. The absolutely fiery "Gossip Folks," with Ludacris, turns a signature Timbaland Eastern stomp into a whiney, six-year-old sounding Missy spittin on the hatas. And then when she says "by the time I’m finished this line / I’ll hear it on the radio," so confidently, so sneering, Luda provides the perfect comic foil, "there was a little nigga named Cris / nobody payed him any mind, nobody gave a shit / nobody bit the hand."


When Missy is in her own domain, she truly is the queen. With guest Method Man on "Bring The Pain," her question-and-answer rhyme takes a backstep to the comfort of a fresh Timbaland beat — the true costar of this disc. A gospel prance and coo is her home; if only rock critics could a safe haven to go home to like that, and know they’ll always win. If only we could be confident like her, not giving two shits that her guest vocalists over-emote, that she can look like an idiot when telling people they’re wearing "fake Ro’s" [as in -lex]. But there’s a reason she can, and we can’t. "All you blowin up yo ass is smoke," she tells us on "Go To The Floor," and you know what, she’s right. "I’m stupid fresh."


Reviewed by: Sam Bloch
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01
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