When she threw down her sophomore album, ”Da Real World,” two years ago, Missy Elliott aimed high: Rather than reprise her sumptuous 1997 debut, ”Supa Dupa Fly,” she went in pursuit of heavier, roborap grooves. But the buzz around newcomer Eve stole Elliott’s hip-hop thunder, and ”Da Real World” was largely (and unfortunately) ignored. In search of redemption, she and steady collaborator Timbaland went to work — Elliott on recasting her lyrics, Timbaland on upgrading his beats — and on Miss E… So Addictive, they accomplished their goals. In ways both good and mixed, the album rarely sounds like its predecessors.
The single ”Get Ur Freak On” sets the tone of new mutation things to come. The track’s Chinese water torture blips, Latino percussion, raps, and croons manage to be twisted and sexy. On ”Miss E?,” Elliott and Timbaland indulge in a bountiful array of arrangements: clubland beats (”4 My People”), slow jams (”Take Away,” with Ginuwine), and caffeinated techno (”Scream a.k.a. Itchin”’), all warmer than those on ”Da Real World.”
Elliott’s attempts at a similar overhaul of her lyrics are only partially successful. The explicit sexcapade romps are devilish fun. (Best line: In ”Scream a.k.a. Itchin’,” she and her man ”smoke that nigga marijuana/ Got freaky, call me ‘Madonna.”’) A few provocative moments also stand out: Recalling an intimate conversation with a guy on ”X-tasy,” she wonders if it was her or the drugs talking. But still smarting from her post ”Da Real World” comedown, she spends too many songs dressing down her detractors. Thankfully, the hooks come faster than the reefer references, and Elliott sounds as if she’s having a blast singing, rhyming, growling, hissing, and purring. Redman, Ludacris, and Busta Rhymes, among others, make the now expected cameos, for no apparent reason. In the end, ”Miss E…” doesn’t need anyone but herself to be a supa girl again.