Missy Elliott's latest album inhabits a weird space between R. Kelly and Snoop Dogg: a place where an MC can celebrate sexuality without pandering to dirty minds and effuse attitude without resorting to lame-ass thuggery.
Miss E...So Addictive is in one sense an album about sex as a topic, it comes up again and again. But Missy doesn't indulge her libido so much as encourage others to indulge theirs, and nowhere more so than with "Get Ur Freak On." It's a great song, maybe the best single of the summer, but it's not sexy per se. It's downright uncanny a formless, tuneless jumble of Indian tabla and Missy's stutter-step rhymes, something like the hip-hop equivalent of "Tomorrow Never Knows."
Missy's sexuality likewise isn't about bedroom narratives so much as a less stagy agenda: using s-e-x as a sort of metaphor for her sound, trying to mimic its rhythms and channel its energy. It's a pretty elastic metaphor, as is the music = drugs idea of the record's title. When she imagines "a place of fulfillment and fantasies where your dreams become realities" on "X-tasy," she might be talking about sex, or the kind of ecstasy that comes in a pill, or maybe just plain spiritual ecstasy; it's hard to say. It doesn't really matter, though it's clear that like the sex she celebrates and the drugs she hypes, her music is sustenance for her Party People, those folks who share the far-out consciousness that allows her to praise God, drugs and herself all at once.
Miss E's a good record thanks in large part to Timbaland's production, which ditches lock-step beats for both funked-up grooves and lots of crazy shit ("Get Ur Freak On"'s Middle Eastern signifiers are but one sonic coup) not to mention the great cameos scattered throughout. But it's really Missy's show.
Near album's end, she follows up a diss on young divas who sing "like they're in church raisin' money for some new choir robes" with her own praise song, nonchalantly sandwiching a remix of the sex-themed "One Minute Man" in between. Hey-hey: Missy is pop music's Dr. J. she's weird, elegant and has better moves than almost anyone else in the game.