The Cookbook is an appropriate title for Missy Elliott's sixth album. Like her previous albums, there is a ton of variety and interesting sounds to be found here. However, this time around, those sounds are provided by a variety of collaborators.
Missy's previous albums have always been defined by her ultra-creative working relationship with producer Timbaland. They were the dynamic duo, creating mind-blowing, out-of-this-world music that innovated without alienating. No matter how many artists Timbaland produced for, his best work came from his collaborations with Missy. But after the disappointing sales of 2003's This Is Not A Test, it looked like things would change...and they did.
Timbaland produced only two of the 16 tracks on The Cookbook. Those two tracks are also the first two tracks on the album. "Joy," which features Houston's Mike Jones, will rattle your 808's as a strange ethereal voice croons the song's title but changes up entirely when Mike Jones spits his verse. "Partytime" is a traditional Missy/Timbo club banger.
The rest of the album proves that Missy can truly stand on her own. She collaborates with a combination of well-known, established producers, and some newcomers. She also produces some tracks herself like the first single "Lose Control" which features Ciara and Fat Man Scoop. The most intriguing combination is Missy with The Neptunes. The popular duo produced "On & On," which is the song heard at the end of the video for "Lose Control." This song is probably the most creative thing The Neptunes have done in a long time. Missy raps with an old-school flow over the off-kilter (but immensely catchy) backdrop of bleeps, bloops, and pounding drums. Even Pharrell's interference is kept to a minimum.
She also works with two other well-known producers. Scott Storch produces "Meltdown," a sexy jam. I won't quote any of the lyrics here, but let's just say that she references a certain song by Lil' Kim and 50 Cent. Rich Harrison, the man behind "Crazy In Love" and "1 Thing" produces "Can't Stop," another sexual song. This time, Missy raps over Harrison's signature frenetic drums. "Mommy" is produced by new producer 3Play and has Missy rapping (in various pitches) over a beat that wouldn't sound out of place in the 1980's as she asserts herself as a female boss.