Missy Elliott – Under Construction (2002)
I’m glad that by 2002, Missy had dropped the ‘misdemeanor’ nickname from her album cover.
I hear misdemeanor, I think insignificant, petty. And petty, insignificant complaints are all I can muster regarding criticism of Under Construction.
With a few tweaks (like dropping the superfluous Work It remix and taking out the constant track-opening reminders that “this is a Missy Elliott exclusive”), this is close to a perfect record.
Oh and thank goodness it’s winter as I can’t envision a situation where I’d be comfortable listening to Pussycat with the windows down.
But apart from that, even if Missy thinks of Under Construction as a work in progress, it’s among the strongest finished hip hop products I’ve heard.
I often find guest spots distracting but here each adds value. Ludacris provides my personal favourite line of the album, referencing the immortal Detective John Kimble on Gossip Folks, “I’ve got a headache and it’s not a tumor.”
Despite the supporting cast and renowned producer (Timbaland), Missy is spot on (and only slightly immodest) when she says she’s “the star of the show.”
I was hooked by her spoken intro, talking about the need for a different tone in hip hop. There’s still some self-aggrandizing in the lyrics but for the most part, she has something to say and as co-writer, co-producer and lead performer, she packages her message effectively.
Under Construction couldn’t be further from my wheelhouse, a comfort zone likely best described as ’80s/90s sad bastard guitar rock.’ For others who might feel similarly out of their element with a 2002 Missy Elliott CD, it’s a trip outside the comfort zone well worth taking.