Missy Elliot’s latest, The Cookbook, suggests that the ingredients that make up this album are the recipe for the perfect record. What ingredients are included, you ask? Naturally, hot production from The Neptunes, Timbaland, Rich Harrison, and others, plus the usual assortment of the hottest rookie artists that would be glad to be a part of the mix, such as Ciara, M.I.A, and Mike Jones, not to mention a few old favorites, including Slick Rick, Mary J. Blige, Fatman Scoop, and Grand Puba.
With some ten-years inversted in the game, Missy is no stranger to the scene, and her latest album follows in tradition of her last few records – that being a hodge-podge of different sounds and styles, meeting somewhere between old school throwbacks and commercial fluff. Her undeniable summer banger “Lose Control” reanimates Cybotron’s “Clear” – and does a good job doing so – as Fat Man Scoop and Ciara help propel this one onto every deejay’s playlist this year. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the lazy “Apache” rip, “We Run This”, and the somewhat clunky mash-up style of “Irresistible Delicious”, where Slick Rick is invited to rap over his classic “Lick The Balls” beat (and shine, he does, despite the song’s odd structure). Missy’s best moments come when attempting a little more originality, such as the Neptunes’ bouncy “On and On”, where she gets her 80′s flow on, and the Rich Harrison helmed “Can’t Stop” – which meets at the crossroads of his other two hits, Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love” and Amerie’s “1 Thing”. Truthfully, nobody is going to debating the disposable nature of joints like “Bad Man” or “Mommy” when sweating it out on the dancefloor, so at times, this album serves it’s purpose.
Granted, while Missy is in her element when cranking out club hits, on the other hand, much of the remainder of the album is slow-jam fluff and ex-boyfriend drama. The lousy “Meltdown” finds Missy crooning about her man’s “magic stick”, as if this has never been done before, while the sappy “Remember When” finds an introspective Missy feeling guilty for cheating, and finally, “4 My Man” carries in tradition and also bores. Not for nothing, but who cares about Missy’s problems? From what the singles are selling, most people buy these types of albums for their ass-shaking qualities, not to hear about Missy’s man-issues. Give us ass-shaking, or give us death!
In all seriousness, club joints can only carry a record so far on the rating scale, and Missy’s lazy formula of “just ride the beat” with her goofy sense of humor doesn’t shoot this record into the critical stratosphere. The perfect album? Not quite. Maybe for 16-24 year-old women (no offense, ladies) that don’t really know their hip-hop history, but a large degree of The Cookbook is rehashed, recycled, and watered down version of the old school hip-hop songs that Missy likes. Why not just enjoy the originals instead?
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