When Missy Elliott makes a new album, the hip hop world tends to sit up and take notice. This Is Not A Test reunites The Gap advert-starring rapper with her partner in rhyme Timbaland, and although there’s not a recognizable anthem in the Get Ur Freak On category, Timbaland’s beats and Missy’s vocals provide another ideal match.
For this album, the music is minimal, with Timbaland bringing percussion sounds to the fore and supplementing them with the mothers of deep basslines. Wake Up is a case in point, as it sounds like a group of people bashing oil drums. This is not an insult – it makes for a highly original sound!
The tracks left to Missy production-wise lend more of an R&B flavour to the album, not to mention a vivid focus on sex. The hilarious Toyz should make men sit up and take notice. According to Missy, “Now I’ve got my toys I don’t need none of you boys!” Thanks a bundle!
Likewise, Is This Our Last Time, featuring Fabolous, harks back to a first time that seems destined never to be repeated. There’s a more soulful, more devotional feel to It’s Real and I’m Not Perfect, showing that the toys might, after all, only be part-time implements.
As expected the album has a strong guestlist. The rich tones of Mary J Blige wind their way around the intro and the outro, R Kelly contributes a cameo for Dat’s What I’m Talkin About and Nelly flies in for Pump It Up, Timbaland once again securing some extraordinary percussive sounds as a backing.
Perhaps the most successful guest transformation falls to Monica, who really pushes herself on Don’t Be Cruel, which lifts the chorus lyrics from Salt N Pepa‘s Push It, before Beenie Man does his thing.
Of course I haven’t mentioned the extraordinary single Pass That Dutch – very simple but oh so effective, with a booming bass to do justice to many a car hi-fi.
That pretty much goes for the whole album too, which, all in all, is another sonic leap forward. Missy’s still got the form!