Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rap Star Missy Elliott Continues to Move Forward

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rap Star Missy Elliott Continues to Move Forward

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF VRABEL

Outkast, sure. Kanye West, of course. The Neptunes, yeah, for a while. But when checking off a list of mainstream hip-hop's most forward-thinking and reflexively inventive trailblazers, Missy Elliott commands a nice plush spot near the top.

Six albums into a career that's powered countless clubs and earned plenty of critical respect, Elliott's influence on hip-hop is hard to gauge, since as soon as you get close to doing it, she shifts again. That history of sonic pump-faking will be on display when Elliott performs Thursday at Plush; she'll also do a brief CD signing at the club before the show.

And this summer's The Cookbook, her sixth CD, provided one of Elliott's biggest surprise moves -- the relative absence of longtime collaborator, everywhere-man and Southern-fried producer Timbaland, he of the jittery beats and clickety-clackety sound effects, who'd been the other behind-the-scenes, insane-hitmaking-lock half of all Elliott's smashes to date. Timbaland turns up to bake only two of the Cookbook's 16 tracks. "Me and Tim, this is our sixth album, so if we go any further left, we're gonna be on Mars somewhere," Elliott told MTV.com earlier this year.

But though Tim's absence is occasionally felt and The Cookbook doesn't have all the giddy mad-scientist vibe of her best stuff, it still can claim some of the most chaotically inventive hip-hop this summer (tracks are provided by Rich Harrison, Scott Storch and Missy herself). Lose Control is an airtight formula; elsewhere, the Neptunes-produced On and On, a club banger as produced by a squadron of space cadets, and the dreamscapey opener Joy are trademark Elliott, with one foot already in the future. And as always, it makes nods to the old school with guest turns from Slick Rick and Grand Puba and tracks like We Run This, which includes a judicious slice of the Sugarhill Gang's Apache that gives way to a halftime-band performance of same.

Elliott first materialized in the otherwise creatively empty year of 1997, showing up on MTV in a garbage bag in a stop-motion video for The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly) that nicely tweaked what was -- and still are -- standard hip-hop cliches. …

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