Missy Elliott has become the most important woman in hip-hop – the nomination of her Under Construction for Album of the Year reflects that.
Missy Elliott’s Under Construction is something of a surprise nomination, though not an unpleasant one. Though coded in the language of the hood, Elliott’s message is one of self-improvement and positivity. Forced to rethink her “live for today” attitude by the tragic death of her friend Aaliyah in a plane crash, the title of “Misdemeanor’s” album reflects a new vision of herself as a “work in progress” – artistically, physically, and otherwise.
Elliott — who co-writes and co-produces (with Timbaland) her own music — expresses a forceful but playful vision of female sexuality on the album, especially on “Bring the Pain” (with Method Man) and the percolating smash single “Work It,” featuring samples from Paul Simon, Run-D.M.C. and Blondie, which demonstrate her impressive musical scope and vision. She sings sweetly against Jay-Z’s old school raps on the nostalgic “Back In the Day,” and tries to persuade Beyonce to join her in a girl’s night out on “Nothing Out There For Me.”
Though her message is mostly one of female strength, financial and emotional independence, on “Play That Beat” she revels in dependence on a certain man, proving herself unpredictable and inconsistent – just like a real person. A dark horse for the album award, the nomination is recognition of a fine album, Elliott’s status in the business, and a positive message.
Portions of this story originally appeared here.