Missy Elliott hasn’t released an album in nearly a decade. As a fan, that can be hard to deal with, especially as other rap and R&B stars of the early ’00s have mounted comebacks over the past few years. But as frustrating as the lack of a new Elliott LP has been, it’s hard to argue with the admittedly well-deserved semi-retirement she’s been enjoying, casually jumping on tracks for old friends, releasing the occasional hot new thing whenever the mood strikes her, and not really sweating career stuff.
Recently she’s taken on Jersey artist Sharaya J as a protege, performing with her at the afterparty for an Alexander Wang runway show and even making a video for her. Back at the end of September, Sharaya J released a diptych video for her songs “Takin’ It No More” and “Shut It Down,” which Elliott co-directed and executive produced. It’s Elliott’s first time directing, as she admitted last night on Twitter, but she’s obviously learned a lot from starring in videos, and the results of her debut effort are way more impressive than the average novice. It helps that Sharaya J is a superstar just waiting to happen, with intense vocal and dance skills matched by a charisma that blasts out of the screen with an almost palpable force.
She also seems to have inherited Elliott’s frenetically experimental streak—there aren’t many artists out there who have the skills or even the inclination to pull off choreography that incorporates real-time sign language translations into their dance moves.
The “Takin’ It No More”/”Shut It Down” video has been out for over a month now, and so far it’s only racked up a little over 100 thousand views, which is only a tiny fraction of what it deserves. A month may seem like a million years in today’s hyperkinetic pop landscape, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to fall in love with it.