19 December 2002

3. missy elliott, "work it"
musically, "work it" (and under construction) offer big, honking nods to the old school. this is, of course, a new development since missy and timbaland have always seemed to be forward-thinkers. as i think someone else may have said, we expect missy singles to create new subgenres of music, but here instead she and tim are content to revitalize the old school and introduce not just the sound (cf. "grindin'" and its updating of schoolly d.) but the look and the culture. in a war-torn, materialistic hip-hop world, missy is bringing it stylistically and sonically back to the simpler days. missy herself has always been a throwback, particularly to the pre-rakim days of rap when rhymes were rarely metaphorical (or metaphysical) or political. at the beginning of her career, she was maligned by purists for lines like "beep beep who got the keys to the jeep," much the way an andrew w.k., himself redolent of an earlier time (and i don't mean the 80s), catches flak in a post-kurt cobain world. for his part, timbaland foregos the role of traditional hip-hop producer (a.k.a. beat-maker) to instead play the gil evans to her miles, the nelson riddle to her sinatra. the track is propulsive and in a state of perpetual motion, but it always allows missy to speak, to sing, to just plain bug-out. missy and tim press rewind, take it back one time, and get us to do the same.

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