Picks and Pans Review: Under Construction

UPDATED 12/02/2002 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 12/02/2002 at 01:00 AM EST

Missy Elliott (Elektra)

Album of the Week

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"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

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