Missy Elliott should have named her album “Back in the Day.”
There’s a song on the album with the title, but she chose instead to let the title reflect where she is in life — “Under Construction.” She alludes to the plane crash death of R&B singer Aaliyah in August 2001 being part of the reason for the construction.
“Ever since Aaliyah passed, I view life in a more valuable way,” the singer/songwriter/producer said on the album’s intro.
“Looking at hate and anger and gossip just became plain ignorant to me.”
But “back” is where her journey takes you — with various samplings like the WuTang Clan’s “Bring the Pain,” LL Cool J’s “Rock the Bells” and a few old lines from Zhane and others.
The CD is reminiscent of a time when battles were solved less with guns and more with moves — dance moves.
She’s taking you back to the time of “Breakin’,” the 1984 break dance movie. Missy fits in as Ozone, Tim steps in as right-hand man Turbo and guest artists Ludacris, Method Man, Ms. Jade, Jay-Z and Beyonce Knowles of Destiny’s Child serve as the break dancing crew.
She manages to slip in a little present day Missy with “Work It,” the No. 1 single on the Billboard charts, and “Ain’t That Funny.” And she found time to sneak in a tribute to her “baby girl” and others who died before their creativity ran out.
On “Can You Hear Me,” she, along with surviving TLC members Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, send a message to Aaliyah and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, who died in a car crash in Honduras in April.
In the message to her fallen friend, Missy said, “I hope that you’re proud of me/ Me and Tim we been doing our thang/ But it’s never been the same since you had to go/ I ain’t never met a friend more incredible.”
Highlights of the album include “Back in the Day,” where she is joined by the “Jigga-man” himself to reminisce about a place far from present day.
“Go back in the day/ British Knights and gold chains/ do the Prep and Cabbage Patch/ and wear your laces all fat/ back in the day/ hip-hop has changed.”
The low point included “Nothin’ out There for Me,” which features Missy trying to persuade friend Beyonce to get out the house and head to the club with the girls.
Near the end of the song, Missy rhymes to the beat while trying to convince Ms. Knowles to join the ladies at the club.
Beyonce rebuts, but with a rhythm-less flow that can barely be followed.
Miss E. sets out to make you forget for 56 minutes all of the pain and heartache in the world.
And she achieved it almost effortlessly.