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Missy Elliott
Miss E...So Addictive

Missy Elliott's latest album inhabits a weird space between R. Kelly and Snoop Dogg: a place where an MC can celebrate sexuality without pandering to dirty minds and effuse attitude without resorting to lame-ass thuggery.

Miss E...So Addictive is in one sense an album about sex — as a topic, it comes up again and again. But Missy doesn't indulge her libido so much as encourage others to indulge theirs, and nowhere more so than with "Get Ur Freak On." It's a great song, maybe the best single of the summer, but it's not sexy per se. It's downright uncanny — a formless, tuneless jumble of Indian tabla and Missy's stutter-step rhymes, something like the hip-hop equivalent of "Tomorrow Never Knows."

Missy's sexuality likewise isn't about bedroom narratives so much as a less stagy agenda: using s-e-x as a sort of metaphor for her sound, trying to mimic its rhythms and channel its energy. It's a pretty elastic metaphor, as is the music = drugs idea of the record's title. When she imagines "a place of fulfillment and fantasies where your dreams become realities" on "X-tasy," she might be talking about sex, or the kind of ecstasy that comes in a pill, or maybe just plain spiritual ecstasy; it's hard to say. It doesn't really matter, though — it's clear that like the sex she celebrates and the drugs she hypes, her music is sustenance for her Party People, those folks who share the far-out consciousness that allows her to praise God, drugs and herself all at once.

Miss E's a good record thanks in large part to Timbaland's production, which ditches lock-step beats for both funked-up grooves and lots of crazy shit ("Get Ur Freak On"'s Middle Eastern signifiers are but one sonic coup) — not to mention the great cameos scattered throughout. But it's really Missy's show.

Near album's end, she follows up a diss on young divas who sing "like they're in church raisin' money for some new choir robes" with her own praise song, nonchalantly sandwiching a remix of the sex-themed "One Minute Man" in between. Hey-hey: Missy is pop music's Dr. J. — she's weird, elegant and has better moves than almost anyone else in the game.

by Christian David Hoard

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