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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released November 11, 2002 | Atlantic Records - ATG

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
The fact that Missy Elliott still considers her work to be "under construction" should, justifiably, send everyone else in the rap world scurrying back to the drawing board. No other commercial rapper sounded more in command of her production and flow than Elliott during 2002, and it's no surprise that Under Construction ranks as one of the best rap LPs of the year (granted, it came against relatively weak competition). While Timbaland's stark digital soul girds these tracks, Missy herself continues her artistic progression, trying to push hip-hop forward with an almost pleading intro and neatly emphasizing her differences from other rappers by writing tracks for nearly every facet of the female side of relationships. The hit single "Work It" turns the tables on male rappers, taking charge of the sex game, matching their lewdest, rudest rhymes, and also featuring the most notorious backmasked vocal of the year. Elliott more than keeps up with a dirty-minded Method Man as well on "Bring the Pain," strikes back at haters on the self-explanatory "Gossip Folks," and produced her own duet with Beyoncé Knowles, "Nothing Out There for Me," a track that finds her trying to lure Knowles out to a party (using her best Timbaland impression) over the wishes of the diva's home-bound man. She also recognizes the constantly changing aspects of sexuality, admitting how dependent she is on a man during "Play That Beat" but ruminating on the curious power of the female persuasion on "P***ycat." Elliott goes on a refreshing old-school tear with "Back in the Day," featuring Jay-Z having more fun than he's had in a while and Missy crooning, "What happened to those good old days, when hip-hop was so much fun/those parties in the summer y'all, and no one came through with a gun." The disc closes with the TLC duet "Can You Hear Me," a tribute to Aaliyah and Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes. Missy Elliott obviously understands how important hip-hop can be when rappers concentrate on the music instead of the violent lifestyle; fortunately, her talents are just as strong as her vision. ~ John Bush
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R&B - Released May 14, 2001 | Atlantic Records - ATG

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released July 11, 1997 | Atlantic Records - ATG

Arguably the most influential album ever released by a female hip-hop artist, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott's debut album, Supa Dupa Fly, is a boundary-shattering postmodern masterpiece. It had a tremendous impact on hip-hop, and an even bigger one on R&B, as its futuristic, nearly experimental style became the de facto sound of urban radio at the close of the millennium. A substantial share of the credit has to go to producer Timbaland, whose lean, digital grooves are packed with unpredictable arrangements and stuttering rhythms that often resemble slowed-down drum'n'bass breakbeats. The results are not only unique, they're nothing short of revolutionary, making Timbaland a hip name to drop in electronica circles as well. For her part, Elliott impresses with her versatility -- she's a singer, a rapper, and an equal songwriting partner, and it's clear from the album's accompanying videos that the space-age aesthetic of the music doesn't just belong to her producer. She's no technical master on the mic; her raps are fairly simple, delivered in the slow purr of a heavy-lidded stoner. Yet they're also full of hilariously surreal free associations that fit the off-kilter sensibility of the music to a tee. Actually, Elliott sings more on Supa Dupa Fly than she does on her subsequent albums, making it her most R&B-oriented effort; she's more unique as a rapper than she is as a singer, but she has a smooth voice and harmonizes well. Guest rappers Busta Rhymes, Lil' Kim, and da Brat all appear on the first three tracks, which almost pulls focus away from Elliott until she unequivocally takes over with the brilliant single "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)"; elsewhere, "Sock It 2 Me," "Beep Me 911," and the weeded-out "Izzy Izzy Ahh" nearly match its genius. Elliott and Timbaland would continue to refine and expand this blueprint, sometimes with even greater success, but Supa Dupa Fly contains the roots of everything that followed. ~ Steve Huey
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released November 12, 2015 | Goldmind - Atlantic

Rap/Hip-Hop - Released March 31, 1998 | Atlantic Records - ATG

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It's really not that difficult to hurdle the sophomore blues provided you're an excellent songwriter and performer, that you have the same, equally excellent producer behind the scenes who contributed to the first album, and most importantly, that you haven't tampered with the hit-making formula from the first. Thankfully, Da Real World is clearly a Missy Elliott album in most respects, with Timbaland's previously trademarked, futuristic-breakbeat production smarts laced throughout. The churchgoing Elliott has often remarked that she wishes she didn't need profanity to get attention, and the album accordingly includes satirical nods to other clichéd notions of hip-hop -- the single "She's a Bitch" is the best example, wherein Elliott reappropriates the insult to refer to strong females. She also takes on the cartoonish Eminem for "Bus a Rhyme," a track that turns out to be one of the best on the album. Da Brat and Aaliyah make repeat appearances, and Redman and OutKast's Big Boi also contribute to this excellent follow-up. ~ Keith Farley
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released July 4, 2005 | Atlantic Records - ATG

Critics and fans were praising Missy Elliott and Timbaland so much during 2002-2003 that the hottest production combo in hip-hop may have started believing that a great production is synonomous with a great song. This Is Not a Test!, her first major mistake, featured cutting-edge tracks in abundance, but virtually nothing in the way of heavyweight material. Its follow-up, The Cookbook, brings the focus back to Missy the rapper and songwriter, wisely (in most cases) leaving the productions to a more varied cast than any of her previous records. Ironically though, Elliott herself produced the lead single, "Lose Control," giving it a tight electro feel (courtesy of some vintage '80s samples from Cybotron and Hot Streak). It's only the first nod to the type of old-school party jam that Elliott does better than ever here; "We Run This" resurrects the "Apache" break and a classic Sugarhill Gang track for one of the best club tunes of the year, Rich Harrison gives a bright, brassy production to another party song, "Can't Stop," and "Irresistible Delicious" featuring Slick Rick sounds at least 15 years removed from contemporary rap (yes, that's a good thing). In a few spots The Cookbook isn't too far removed from This Is Not a Test! -- Elliott forces a few rhymes, plays to type with her themes, and uses those outside producers to follow trends in hip-hop (she could have easily accompanied a 12-track record of her usual solid material with a watered-down "New Sounds in Hip-Hop & R&B EP" that would kick off with the syrupy Houston retread "Click Clack," the Neptunes' tired "On & On," and the bland pop-idol duet "My Man" featuring Fantasia). What's different here is how relaxed Elliott is, how willing she seems to simply go with what comes naturally and sounds best. "My Struggles" isn't the myopic confessional suggested by the title, but an East Coast all-stars jam that features one of her best raps ever and deftly switches in midstream to allow Mary J. Blige to reprise her "What's the 411?" classic (to say nothing of Grand Puba's verse). And the final track, "Bad Man," sees one of the most welcome collaborations seen in rap for some time, as Elliott joins dancehall heroes M.I.A. and Vybz Kartel (plus a drumline from Atlanta A&T). ~ John Bush
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released November 1, 2003 | EastWest

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released June 2, 2017 | Goldmind - Atlantic

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 28, 2017 | Goldmind - Atlantic

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released November 11, 2002 | Elektra - EEG

The fact that Missy Elliott still considers her work to be "under construction" should, justifiably, send everyone else in the rap world scurrying back to the drawing board. No other commercial rapper sounded more in command of her production and flow than Elliott during 2002, and it's no surprise that Under Construction ranks as one of the best rap LPs of the year (granted, it came against relatively weak competition). While Timbaland's stark digital soul girds these tracks, Missy herself continues her artistic progression, trying to push hip-hop forward with an almost pleading intro and neatly emphasizing her differences from other rappers by writing tracks for nearly every facet of the female side of relationships. The hit single "Work It" turns the tables on male rappers, taking charge of the sex game, matching their lewdest, rudest rhymes, and also featuring the most notorious backmasked vocal of the year. Elliott more than keeps up with a dirty-minded Method Man as well on "Bring the Pain," strikes back at haters on the self-explanatory "Gossip Folks," and produced her own duet with Beyoncé Knowles, "Nothing Out There for Me," a track that finds her trying to lure Knowles out to a party (using her best Timbaland impression) over the wishes of the diva's home-bound man. She also recognizes the constantly changing aspects of sexuality, admitting how dependent she is on a man during "Play That Beat" but ruminating on the curious power of the female persuasion on "P***ycat." Elliott goes on a refreshing old-school tear with "Back in the Day," featuring Jay-Z having more fun than he's had in a while and Missy crooning, "What happened to those good old days, when hip-hop was so much fun/those parties in the summer y'all, and no one came through with a gun." The disc closes with the TLC duet "Can You Hear Me," a tribute to Aaliyah and Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes. Missy Elliott obviously understands how important hip-hop can be when rappers concentrate on the music instead of the violent lifestyle; fortunately, her talents are just as strong as her vision. ~ John Bush
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R&B - Released October 31, 2005 | Elektra - EEG

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released July 11, 1997 | Atlantic Records - ATG

Arguably the most influential album ever released by a female hip-hop artist, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott's debut album, Supa Dupa Fly, is a boundary-shattering postmodern masterpiece. It had a tremendous impact on hip-hop, and an even bigger one on R&B, as its futuristic, nearly experimental style became the de facto sound of urban radio at the close of the millennium. A substantial share of the credit has to go to producer Timbaland, whose lean, digital grooves are packed with unpredictable arrangements and stuttering rhythms that often resemble slowed-down drum'n'bass breakbeats. The results are not only unique, they're nothing short of revolutionary, making Timbaland a hip name to drop in electronica circles as well. For her part, Elliott impresses with her versatility -- she's a singer, a rapper, and an equal songwriting partner, and it's clear from the album's accompanying videos that the space-age aesthetic of the music doesn't just belong to her producer. She's no technical master on the mic; her raps are fairly simple, delivered in the slow purr of a heavy-lidded stoner. Yet they're also full of hilariously surreal free associations that fit the off-kilter sensibility of the music to a tee. Actually, Elliott sings more on Supa Dupa Fly than she does on her subsequent albums, making it her most R&B-oriented effort; she's more unique as a rapper than she is as a singer, but she has a smooth voice and harmonizes well. Guest rappers Busta Rhymes, Lil' Kim, and da Brat all appear on the first three tracks, which almost pulls focus away from Elliott until she unequivocally takes over with the brilliant single "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)"; elsewhere, "Sock It 2 Me," "Beep Me 911," and the weeded-out "Izzy Izzy Ahh" nearly match its genius. Elliott and Timbaland would continue to refine and expand this blueprint, sometimes with even greater success, but Supa Dupa Fly contains the roots of everything that followed. ~ Steve Huey
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released December 2, 2003 | Elektra - EEG

Listeners shouldn't blame Missy Elliott for slipping into a holding pattern for her fifth album, This Is Not a Test! Early on she arrived at a distinctive sound -- the confident, clubbed-up jam with little melodic power but endless reserves of kinetic energy, courtesy of Timbaland's rubbery productions -- and she refined it well with hits like 2001's "Get Ur Freak On" and the following year's "Work It" and "Gossip Folks." Still, although she remains by far the most interesting figure in hip-hop, This Is Not a Test! has more filler than Elliott's allowed on a record since 1999's Da Real World. (Little surprise considering it appeared just over a year after 2002's Under Construction.) Granted, listeners and club fans looking for hit material will certainly find plenty on display. While the single "Pass That Dutch" is little more than a warmed-up "Work It" rewrite (albeit one studded with auditory change-ups from alarm clocks to car alarms to audience noise to the whinnying of a horse), she compensates nicely with the blazing electro shock of "I'm Really Hot" and the down-and-dirty moaning of her Nelly duet, "Pump It Up." And Timbaland's productions are still above and beyond any others on earth, with a dizzying roster of next-generation beats -- conceived in ring modulators, echo chambers, torpedo tubes, rusty pipes; anywhere except a standard drumkit -- matched to dark, technoid effects capable of raising the eyebrows of even the most experimental laptop programmers. However, most of the guest features fall flat: Fabolous wastes an excellent opportunity to match wits with Missy, giving her the shy-guy routine on "Is This Our Last Time," while Jay-Z is uninvolved on his feature, "Wake Up." Elephant Man's bounce track, "Keep It Movin," works well, but the R. Kelly duet, "Dats What I'm Talkin About," has Elliott playing -- perhaps too agreeably -- the inexperienced young girl to Kelly's mature lover. There's no need to blame Missy for not making a record that's tight all the way through, especially since few artists in the R&B world are held to such scrutiny. Still, an album like This Is Not a Test! is an effective argument for song-by-song downloads. ~ John Bush
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released April 22, 2016 | Goldmind - Atlantic

Rap/Hip-Hop - Released February 2, 2009 | Atlantic Records - ATG

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released July 9, 2018 | Atlantic Records - ATG

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R&B - Released January 1, 2002 | Motown

Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 27, 2017 | Goldmind - Atlantic

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released July 4, 2005 | Atlantic Records - ATG

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released September 18, 2012 | Atlantic Records - ATG