Rap Critic
Rap Critic Reviews: “Work It” by Missy Elliott
Hi, I'm the Rap Critic. Let's talk about Missy Elliott. Let me preface this episode by saying that I LOVE Missy Elliott. Everything about her persona was awesome. She had the coolest videos, she had the best producer backing her at the time, and she had a fun, cool personality that carried through in all of her music, and when listening to her albums, it's obvious that she loves HipHop and being a musician, and would probably be cool person to hang around.
As well, she made a lane for female rappers who didn't fit the conventionally attractive look. In fact, that may have been part of why she was ALLOWED to be so weird in her videos and stuff: because the focus COULDN'T just be on her sexual appeal; however, as made clear in her lyrics, she was a very sexual person, I mean, she helped write a song directly about female masturbation!

*"Oops (Oh My!)"*

Well, several, actually…

*"Toyz": "Every girl must have a toy"*

I think you see where that's going…

But yeah, now that I think about it, that's a big part of what's to like about her: she openly expressed her sexuality and the different facets thereof, but since she wasn't super skinny, as far as the mainstream was concerned, she HAD to do more than show skin to make an impact. Think about it: you think they'd allow Lil kim to perform in a puffy trash bag? Hell no! But with Missy Misdemeaner Elliott, she could love Old school rap music, she could dress in blown up latex, and she could… be into megaman, apparently, and since lots of people have been comparing her to Nicki Minaj, because, you know, she's the only black female rapper with more than one top ten hit SINCE her, it's hard to not compare, so I decided to look at one of her biggest songs to see what was that spark that made people see her as the untouchable force in HipHop by looking past fashion ideas, music videos and all that stuff, because ultimately that can all be studio managed, no, I concern myself with the part that she was responsible for herself, the raps. So let's look at "Work It", and see how she fairs.

DJ, please pick up your phone
I'm on the request line

Interesting that Timbaland shows up first here, because beatwise, this is one of his pop music masterpieces, weaving cool samples together like the perviously heard intro, and perfectly setting the stage for the old school vibe that Missy was going for on this album. And throughout, Timbaland manages to not only recreate that vibe, but instead of just lazily resting on classic samples, he uses them sparingly, crafting his own new sound in which the samples interact. It's pretty cool.

Is it worth it, let me work it
I put my thing down, flip it and reverse it

Okay, what I like about this chorus is how it uses a bit of ambiguity, meaning she could be speaking about sexual positions that she can put down and reverse, like I dunno, cowgirl and reverse cowgirl or something, OR she could be talking about how she lyrically puts it down, representing herself fully as a rapper.

If you got a big ***, let me search you

Well, that's a little... LESS ambiguous…
I put my thing down, flip it and reverse it [backwards 2X]

Wait, what's she saying there?

I put my thing down, flip it and reverse it [backwards 2X]

Huh. She actually flipped it and reversed it. Well, if there's one thing you can't call Missy Elliott, it's a liar.

I'd like to get to know you so I could show you
Put the p**** on you like I told you

Again, she's no liar, she DID tell us that... once again, ruining the ambiguity, but whatever, who needs ambiguity. I doubt anyone's looking for coded messages from the woman who made "One Minute Man". I mean, even if you were a kid who didn't really know what it was about… ya kinda knew what it was about.

Gimme all your numbers so I could phone you
Your girl actin' stank then call me over

Oh yes, my friends, no matter what sex you are: it just wouldn't be a rap song if it didn't mention taking someone else's lover.

Not on the bed, lay me on your sofa
Phone before you come, I need to shave my chocha

I appreciate your bluntness AND your consideration. And special thanks to the video director for putting Missy Elliott's presumed pubic hair in the video.. We REALLY could not have figured that one out without you.

*She blows pubic hair at the camera*

*Backs up* Dude, gross!
This the kinda beat that go Ba-ta-ta

NO, it's not. It's doesn't go like that at all2! I know, because I'm currently listening to it!

Boy, lift it up, let's make a toast-a

A "toast-a"? You want to make a toaster?

Let's get drunk, that's gonna' bring us closer

Oh, you mean a toast… with a syllable added purely for rhyming's sake, got it...

I make you hot as Las Vegas weather
Listen up close while I take it backwards
(backwards) Watch the way Missy like to take it backwards

Missy is a woman of her word… even if there's honestly no reason why it happened… well, I guess she's the first person to try to rhyme something backwards, gotta give her that…

(backwards) Watch the way Missy like to take it backwards
I'm not a prostitute, but I could give you what you want

…I don't know how to judge backwards rhymes, so I guess I'll give her a point, because… hey, YOU didn't think of it...

Love the way my ass go budunkadunk dunk
Keep your eyes on my budunkadunk dunk
And think you can handle this gadonk-a-donk-donk
Rhyming "budunkadunk" with "budunkadunk" WITH "GUdunkadunk". Okay, that's just lazy.

Boys, boys, all type of boys
Black, white, Puerto Rican, Chinese boys



…What the hell was that about? Why are you making fun of the way Chinese people talk? What did they do to you? And why did she single them out in particular among the other ethnicities? It's like, "Yeah, there are all types of boys from different cultural backgrounds, but THE CHING CHANG CHONG TALK OF THE CHINESE, AMIRITE?! And Missy doesn't come off as a racist or anything, it just seems like she didn't really think about how something like that could be seen as a little insensitive…


VERY insensitive… but let's move on...

Girl, girl, get that cash
If it's 9 to 5 or shakin' your ass
Ain't no shame, ladies do your thing
Just make sure you ahead of the game

Right out of racially awkward territory, we move into actually the most sexually progressive statement I've heard in a song since Lupe… and I agree with it. And this may sound odd at first from a feminist perspective, but straight up, her message is that, "you can get a job in the mainstream business world, or you can capitalize off of your natural beauty and shake what your momma gave ya, BUT, in both respects, she says, to make sure you're ahead of the game, make sure it's what YOU want to do, what YOU can handle and work with, and that ultimately, what makes YOU comfortable. And, that sounds weird to say that a part of progressive thinking means saying that it's completely okay for women to use their sexual assets for monetary gain, but think about it. If you WERE to say, that women can't dress sexy, or hell, be in a music video where she's shaking her ass, would you NOT just be employing another version of male patriarchy onto women? I mean, apart of that old world stigma is either you're either a complete slut, or you're completely chaste, not showcasing any sense of sexual awareness, and Missy's saying F that, do what you want, as long as it's INDEED what you want! Now, many might see this as a contrast to my "Bitch Bad" episode, but actually, I'd think of it as an expansion of it.

To be clear, neither now, nor then, did I say that women expressing sexuality is wrong. There's nothing INHERENTLY wrong with "badunkadunkdunk". This, in a vacuum, is FINE. The problem comes in when a genre of music you like keeps saying, "ALL YOU CAN BE, AND ALL WE WILL EVER SHOW YOU THAT YOU CAN BE, IS "badunkadunkdunk"." That's a problem, because instead of seeing sexuality as purely an aspect of who you are, the overarching HipHop culture tells you that it's the ONLY thing you are. And, like I said before, that's why I like Missy: she WASN'T a one dimensional female rapper, it was obvious that her team was about promoting a more dynamic artist beyond her sexual appeal… even if it turns out that… actually most of the song that I'm currently reviewing has ironically been of a sexual nature… but even so! Look at the way this video is marketing the song. Sure, there's parts where there's rump shaking, but there are parts where she's covered in bees, dancing like a b-boy, eating a lamborghini, she's doing more than just one thing. Now, look at a Lil Kim, video.

"How Many Licks"

Boobs, boobs, boobs, look at her boobs!!! This video is SPECIFICALLY about manufacturing a woman as an object!

Meanwhile, Missy actually has more going on!

Why you act dumb like "Uh, duh"

Uh… indeed! Why you act dumb like… "uh, duh…"?

So you act dumb like "Uh, duh"

…Did I mention that, despite her impact on HipHop, she would never make my top 10 list of most lyrical rappers?

Well, overall, I'd give this a 3 out of 5. Timbaland more than delivers with inspired beatwork, and Missy definitely brings a seldom rivaled enjoyability to the track, and despite a lot of glaring deficiencies as a lyricist in my eyes, I don't think it's enough to completely devalue what this song was trying to be: a fun, unique club track with admirable nods to the old school. Well, I'm the Rap Critic. You don't have to like my opinion, but I don't have to like your song.