Song of Myself

With her sophomore outing Da Real World, Missy Elliot empowers her pocketbook--and not much else

Aaliyah and Da Brat, who showed they could hang tough with Missy on her first album, Supa Dupa Fly, drop by for a complaint rap that gets old fast on "Stickin' Chickens," a chant about guys who make a practice of, well, you can guess what. Even the midtempo "Hot Boyz," which starts with Missy's sexy beckon to some tasty tenderonies, soon gets clingy: "You a hot boy/A rock boy/A fun toy...Can I move in with you?...I'll cook, boy." No hardball playa is gonna throw down his Platinum Visa for that bait and switch.

In our heroine's defense, Elliot does sound like she doubts her own hype and senses that she has rigged her own game against her. She doesn't seem to know how to handle Eminem--does anybody?--and has been quoted in interviews to the effect that his lyrical contributions disturbed her on first exposure. But her solution--to frame "Busa Rhyme" as a battle between her God-fearin' self and Eminem's Slim Shady--is a telling misstep. Miss Demeanor is no match for the sprung lyrical felon, and she can't haw-hee her way to victory over Em lines like "They call me Boogie Knight/The stalker that walks awkward/Stick figure/Dick bigger than Mark Wahlberg."

Faced with the brutal matter-of-facts spewed by the facile Detroit hobgoblin, Missy suggests a bloody death for Shady, offing him not with head-cutting mic skills but by executive decree--by fixing the fight. She can command Eminem to take a dive because she's Missy Elliot. Now she just needs to decide if that's what being Missy Elliot is really all about.

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