Missy Elliott The Cookbook Review

Released 2005.  

BBC Review

...packed with goodies and tasty snacks...

Jack Smith 2003

Missy Elliott is without doubt the most influential female rapper around. Her wilful eccentricity and sonic adventurism mapped out new territory for hip hop at the turn of the century. It came as quite a shock when her fifth outing, 'This Is Not A Test', failed to inspire - the great woman was mortal after all...

Fortunately 'The Cookbook' marks a return to form. Missy delivers us a true hip hop album, one liberated from gun-happy bragging and continuous bling talk. She ain't no faker 'pulling up at the club in a rental car'. Don't worry though, the disc still carries a Parental Advisory sticker. The regular use of a slang word that refers to a woman's lower body part (think cat) makes sure of that.

The album marks a change in her usual recipe, as her regular partner in next-generation beat making, Timbaland, only produces two songs ("Joy" and "Party Time"). Not that she's found it difficult to find replacements: Rich Harrison, Scott Storch and The Neptunes all help out.

There's no shortage of guest vocalists here either. On "My Struggles" she gets Mary J Blige to try her hand at rapping, while Missy explores her own experience of childhood domestic violence. On the contrast, US Pop Idol winner Fantasia's powerful voice is ideal for "4 My Man", which deals with a woman's willing devotion to her love.

Missy still has an ear for the dancefloor (like we could ever doubt it!) as is clearly demonstrated on "We Run This", "On & On" and "Lose Control". The contagious latter track includes the 'Princess of Crunk', Ciara, who is fast becoming Missy's musical sidekick, alongside Fatman Scoop who contributes with his familiar exhortative ad-libs.

Adding dancehall flavour to the track "Bad Man", Missy avoids the more obvious Jamaican guest artists (no Beenie Man or Sean Paul here), and opts instead for the relatively unknown Vybz Cartel. Although the track is fierce and will probably have you doing the thunder clap in the clubs, some may wonder why newcomer MIA is added.

This album is packed with goodies and tasty snacks, enough to make the casual listener feel quite full. However, devoted fans will be left hungry for more. Another serving of the finest, as soon as possible - please!

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