Missy Elliott’s new album
“Block Party”

January 30 2013
3:26 PM

The duo formed by Missy Elliott and Timbaland was one of the most distinctive voices in hip-hop during the late ’90s and early ’00s: the rapper and producer — each skilled in both arts — joined forces in the 1997 album Supa Dupa Fly, which delivered synth-driven beats characterized by the imposing presence of drum machines inventively stylizing UK bass music genres. Supa Dupa Fly was followed by a chain of records that perfected the formula: robotic — sometimes harshly so — electro hip-hop that dared to invent a highly synthetic, futuristic and estranging production format, while breaking with the conservative obsession with sonic “realness.” Now, after a seven-year hiatus since since 2005’s The Cookbook and a long debilitating sickness, Missy is back and ready to reign again, in a time when female hip hop is flourishing. Indeed, she has rejoined forces with her longtime collaborator and friend to record an album tentatively named Block Party (an overt reference to her obsession for early hip-hop) which she describes as “one of those albums you can play out in the streets.” The album’s crepuscular self-celebration (“9th Inning”) mixes romantic piano music with horror-sounding overtones, while “Triple Threat” brings hyper-syncopated, science-fiction funk. A relevant addition to the career of — as Missy puts it — the “new Ike and Tina.” (Francesco Tenaglia)