Album of the Week
"Let's take hip hop back to the root," declares Missy Elliott in the spoken intro to her fourth album. And that's exactly what the rapper does on this funky-fresh disc, deftly bringing an old-school party vibe to her signature trip-hop. Evoking the playful, pregangsta spirit of acts like the Sugar Hill Gang and Run-DMC—along with a healthy dash of Salt-N-Pepa—Elliott injects some refreshing humor into tracks such as the electro-boogie hit "Work It." One of the year's best singles (file next to 2001's "Get Ur Freak On"), "Work It" finds Elliott cleverly sampling Run-DMC's "Peter Piper." Elsewhere she gets strong support from Jay-Z and Beyoncé Knowles (who has an Arethaesque turn on "Nothing Out There for Me"). TLC appears on "Can You Hear Me," a tribute to departed stars such as Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes and Aaliyah, and the song closes the CD on a sweetly elegiac note.
BOTTOM LINE: It'll get ur freak on