Missy gets a result with her deep, down and dirty new album...
Was anybody else a wee bit disappointed when they heard the contradiction that is ‘Pass That Dutch’? The lead single from Misdemeanour’s fifth album is simultaneously a work of superhuman genius and totally underwhelming.
Pretty much as soon as they exploded back in ’97 with ‘Supa Dupa Fly’ it was obvious Melissa Elliot and buddy Tim Mosley were going to be the people to save hip-hop from itself. In 2001 they proved it creating one of the greatest singles ever; ‘Get Ur Freak On’ – the sort of song that parts waters, causes planets to collide and pretty much obliterates the batty notion that music should somehow be divided into ‘genres’ that some people are allowed to like and others not. ‘Work It’, from last year’s retrofied ‘Under Construction’, was even better.
Its success ironically, posed a very real problem: Where the hell could Missy go? The answer it seems is deep, down and dirty. Where ‘Miss E… So Addictive’ celebrated pill power and ‘Under Construction’ took us back to the floor, this one burrows through it. Her pop mission clearly over, ‘This Is Not A Test!’ is all about the beats – dense, thundery, echoey ones, ravey ones, bhangraey ones, drum’n’bassy ones, beats in all shapes, sizes and dimensions, and not a right lot else. Although slightly less fun than before, it’s Missy’s most uncompromising work yet. The opening ‘Baby Girl’, a tribute to Aaliyah, sets the tone; the party’s over, this is, you might say, da real world, so everything is set up top the max. Which ain’t to say that it’s sullen.
The full-on, nuttier-than-a-squirrel’s-turd moments might just be her finest works yet. ‘Dat’s What I’m Talking Bout’ the album’s booty call ([I]”Have you ever been inside the mind of a virgin? It gets hot and curious”[/I]), boasts the sort of melody you can only piece together long after the event. ‘Toyz’ rewrites Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’ for the 23rd century and ‘Let Me Fix My Weave’ is ‘Witness’ by Roots Manuva after seven pints of potassium bromide. And is [I]amazing[/I].
There’s less space to breathe in ‘This Is Not A Test!’ than ever before – the beats are so relentless that just like the fiercest of the nu-prog bands it leaves you physically exhausted afterwards. It’d be difficult to imagine her ever making something as euphoric as ‘Miss E… So Addictive’ after this. The ecstasy honeymoon does, after all, have to end at some point.
But if the only thing you can say against ‘This Is Not A Test!’ is that it can’t improve on perfection, then that’s fine.