Missy Elliott is undisputedly one of the most prominent female artists in contemporary music. For the five-time Grammy Award winner, Missy's latest feat, The Cookbook, is simply another notch in the belt of a woman who has defied all traditional notions in the entertainment industry. When asked to describe her new release in three words or less the music maven candidly spits "no artificial flavor." Hence, the thinking behind the title The Cookbook, Missy's sixth effort in a series of undeniably groundbreaking, multi-platinum CD's. The Cookbook, a feast of tantalizing songs, is an all-natural collection of musical recipes guaranteed to feed the mind and energize the body.
While each and every one of Missy's previous CD's (Supa Dupa Fly, 1997; Da Real World, 1999; Miss E. So Addictive, 2001; Under Construction, 2002; This Is Not A Test, 2003) produced smash singles that catapulted her career beyond superstar status, The Cookbook is a work of pure artistic innovation. "Finding that in-between space of not giving people too far left and not too far right was a challenge for me," says Missy of this new effort. A fusion of inventive instrumentals, dynamic and diverse deliveries, and creatively constructed musical movements, as opposed to mere songs, the Virginia native continues into her trademark uncharted territory.
"On & On" finds Missy and Pharell of the Neptunes teaming up for a fresh throwback tune that effortlessly juxtaposes old school rhythms with new school flair. "Back then, the rapping style wasn't as deep. It was very simple," Missy declares. "People could catch on with all the spaces and breaks between the raps and that's basically what I did on this song." In the vein of a Roxanne Shante style flow, Missy honors the original art of hip-hop lyrical delivery.
Meanwhile, the Missy-produced lead single, "Lose Control," reigns as the quintessential party track. Missy's rap bravado slices through the up-tempo anthem while Ciara lends her signature smooth vocals and tries her hand at a quick rhyme. Fat Man Scoop brings it all home with his signature jam-jumping adlibs.
Missy continues to stir up flavorful tunes like "Irresistible Delicious," which features English transport, the seminal Slick Rick. On this adventure, using a sample from Rick's original "Lick The Balls" track, the two sing and rhyme over an alternating R&B melody and hip-hop break beat. Missy's sensual vocals over this groove-laden track end with horn riffs and stand out DJ scratching. As a fan of artists who have been holding it down from the early days, Missy makes no bones about calling on some of the industry's most remarkable talent.
Missy takes her boldest step yet on The Cookbook, getting more intimate with her fans by providing insight into her personal life. "'My Struggles' is a record close to me," the artist divulges. "On this record I'm talking about what my home was like with my father being abusive to my mother. I wasn't born into being a superstar, I went through a lot and when I heard the track it brought me back to Grand Puba and Mary J. Blige on What's the 411?" It only made sense that Puba and the queen of hip-hop soul should lend their strengths to this truly unique track with a pronounced and definitive bass line produced by Qur'an.
For another turn, Missy teams up with American Idol starlet Fantasia on the heartfelt "4 My Man," a salute to great mates. "I so enjoyed working with her. She's one of the most incredible voices I've heard in a long time," says Missy. "As soon as I did the record I knew it was for her."
Throughout The Cookbook, Missy not only indulges the listener with delectable delights, she stirs in the work of newer yet seasoned producers. "Mommy," produced by 3Play, is a song which ingeniously incorporates a horn intermission, a piano interpolation, scratching, harp instrumentals and chirping. Missy rhymes swiftly over the track with an uncanny variation of vocal pitch. "Mommy," which means female boss, is just one of the many savory treats that Missy cooks up for this CD.
In tradition, the Supa Dupa Fly one brings it home to her long time hit-making partner Timbaland. "It gets a little harder for the both of us because the pressure is on from the previous album. This time I decided to get other producers to give a different vibe, but at the same time I check in with him. His involvement is still there," Missy affirms. A chef in his own right, Timbaland turns up the heat on tracks like "Joy," which features Houston rap phenom Mike Jones, and the percolating "Partytime."
The Cookbook is an organically healthy and appetizing full-course musical meal. It's fitting for a star whose history includes seventeen MTV Award nominations (including one win for the coveted "Video Of the Year"), five Grammy Awards, three consecutive BET Awards, five Lady of Soul/Soul Train Awards, national ad campaigns with The Gap, MAC Cosmetics and Vanilla Coke, and a successful television show, "The Road to Stardom With Missy Elliott." Missy Elliott is not merely an inventive recording artist and performer; she is one of few women who enjoy an equal amount of success behind the scenes as a prophetic songwriter and producer, having acquired a star-studded list of production credits that includes Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, and Destiny's Child, among others. As the head of her own record label, The Goldmind, Inc., Missy launched the successful career of platinum-selling R&B star Tweet. In addition to all of this, Missy has created a unique joint venture with renowned athletic company Adidas for a line of clothing, shoes, and accessories under the moniker, Respect Me.
Recognized as the best selling female hip-hop artist of all time, this quadruple threat - a writer, singer, lyricist, and producer - will undoubtedly whet the appetite of all with her delicious new CD, The Cookbook. "Each record has its own herbs and spices. Whether I listened to my previous albums, rock, alternative, hip-hop or soul records from Chaka Khan, it's all mixed in there." Bon Appetit!