Caveat Emptor

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The best way to critique Missy Elliot’s sophomore album may be to test it against the principle of polarity. Since everything has two sides, negative and positive, there are two ways to look at this project.

The positive: Missy’s album is good. The woman has outstanding talent and vocal ability, and willingly displays them throughout the project. Missy effortlessly blurs the lines between hip hop and R&B, and spreads wrinkle-free arrangements over futuristic soundbeds provided courtesy of her longtime partner Timbaland. Her album is really a parade of duets and collaborations; guest vocalists range from Eminem ("Busa Rhyme") to reigning dancehall queen Lady Saw ("Mr. D.J."). The album picks right up at the tail end of the Supa Dupa Fly era.

Now, the negative: Missy’s album sucks. Da Real World continues the trend of artists who dress tried-and-tired themes in big-budget outfits, then call it groundbreaking music. As talented a songwriter as Missy is, and as superbly gifted a producer as Timbaland is, artists who spend hours of good studio time ranting about who left who, who screwed who behind whose back, who smoked what, who drives what, who’s iced out, who’s nicer on the mic than who and who’s proud to be a bitch do nothing more than insult consumer intelligence.

The bottom line: Are you spending your money on Missy Elliot’s name, or Missy Elliot’s music? It’s a decision you’ll need to make before heading to the local mom-and-pop. Read between the lines and don’t judge the album by its million-dollar video.

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