In the male-dominated world of hip-hop, Missy Elliott is a platinum anomaly: She has had five million-selling albums, produced and written hits for everyone from Aaliyah to Fantasia, shot eye-popping videos and even made a Gap commercial with Madonna. As Elliott raps on "Joy," the first track on her sixth release, The Cookbook, "Since '92 I came to win and never lose/They try to stop a chubby chick from coming through." But after 2002's excellent Under Construction, which was nominated for an Album of the Year Grammy, she seemed to stall a bit on her last outing, 2003's This Is Not a Test!
The bad news: She's still slumping. There is nothing here that is as straight-up great as such past hits as "Get Ur Freak On" and "Work It." Her usual crazy energy is lacking. Perhaps that can be attributed to the fact that her longtime producer Timbaland worked on only two cuts. And there are a lot of slower, R&B-flavored numbers, including the Fantasia-assisted "4 My Man." Elliott's singing on some of these songs, though passable, won't cause Beyoncé to lose a wink of sleep.
Still, The Cookbook offers some tasty fare, including the first single "Lose Control," a retro-'80s, "Planet Rock"-style electro workout; the percolating club banger "Partytime," which ingeniously samples the 1971 J. Geils Band song "Whammer Jammer"; and "Irresistible Delicious," a juicy pairing with old-school emcee Slick Rick.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Lose Control"