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Record Rating: ***

Missy Elliot - The Cookbook - Warner Music A five-time Grammy Award winner, Missy Elliott has done more than any other artist in recent times to blur the lines between hip-hop and R&B. She’s the Bjork of hip-hop music, it’s difficult to put your finger on exactly what it is she’s doing. Still the sort of music she releases into the mainstream continues to astound fans and critics with futuristic alterations of hip hop's landscape.

Her sixth release The Cookbook plows right over any preconceived notion you may have about the current hip hop scene, as it seamlessly fuses hyper-kinetic R&B, pop and hip hop with its delirious passages of electro-inspired salacious rhyme schemes. Each and every one of Missy's previous albums produced smash singles that catapulted her career beyond superstar status, and this one tries to do the same.

The first single, Lose Control featuring Ciara and Fat Man Scoop, reigns as the quintessential party track and it went straight to the top of the charts in the US of A. For another turn, Missy teams up with American Idol starlet Fantasia on the heartfelt 4 My Man, just one of the many savory treats that Missy cooks up this time around. Listening to the sixteen tracks, there is no doubt that she is one of Hip Hop's cultural magnets. The album even boasts the A-list of guest appearances from Pharrell Williams on the Neptunes produced On And On, Mary J Blige on the wonderfully honest, My Struggles and Tweet on the soul stirring Gotta Move On. Missy tries hard to overcome the bad vibes left over from her last disappointing release ~ This Is Not a Test! and she succeeds to a point. But all in all, The Cookbook consists of recipes that are unimpressive and uncreative.

The best collaboration on album can be found on My Struggles, where Elliott touches on the brutal domestic violence she witnessed growing up. The rapper witnessed her father beat up her mother as a child in Virginia and decided to address the issue of domestic violence on the track which features Grand Puba and Mary J Blige rapping in tune with her. But that’s a off on this album. Missy actually does what she does best on this entire effort, which is making uplifting party choons for single women to enjoy. So a majority of the album is targeted for the female audience, and she alienates the male listeners with her one sided view of the world.

The end verdict ~ The Cookbook doesn't live up to Under Contruction or any other of her first records that made her of Grammy winning caliber. Although this album isn't entirely bad, I was disappointed. Elliott needs this album to be a success, but it’s clearly not capable of returning her to the heights she’s left since her last disappointing last album. Good for a few spins on your CD player.

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