Missy Elliott Under Construction

Missy Elliott Under Construction
Missy Misdemeanor may have lost a lot of weight recently, but her latest confection with Virginia hit man Timbaland is no calorie-reduced offering. Despite its title, Under Construction boasts considerable confidence, happily veering from the buzzy electro-ridiculousness of her backwards rapping sex romp "Work It,” yet another contender for single of the year, following last year’s mind-blowing "Get Ur Freak On,” to her sultry singing opposite Method Man on the funk-fest "Bring The Pain."

Following the deaths of pals Aaliyah and Left Eye, Missy seems to be re-evaluating her life and hip-hop in general, calling to task rappers who have made the street and the dance floor mutually exclusive fiefdoms. But while songs like "Back In The Day,” featuring Miss E and Jay-Z wallowing in nostalgia for hip-hop's golden age over a playfully soulful beatscape, are hardly subtle, Tim and Missy, for the most part, teach by example. Though heavily inspired by early ’80s electro, they have put together a collection of effervescent future funk that somehow never sounds old school, despite namedropping "Self Destruction,” shouting-out British Knights sneakers and briefly covering the Beasties’ "Paul Revere.” That's not easy, you know. (Elektra)