Release Date: Jul 5, 2005
Record label: Atlantic
Critics and fans were praising Missy Elliott and Timbaland so much during 2002-2003 that the hottest production combo in hip-hop may have started believing that a great production is synonomous with a great song. This Is Not a Test!, her first major mistake, featured cutting-edge tracks in abundance, but virtually nothing in the way of heavyweight material. Its follow-up, The Cookbook, brings the focus back to Missy the rapper and songwriter, wisely (in most cases) leaving the productions to a more varied cast than any of her previous records.
Towards the end of BBC2's exemplary series Soul Deep, there was a clip of Missy "Misdemeanour" Elliott's 1997 breakthrough hit, The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly). It was there almost as an afterthought, to illustrate hip- hop and R&B's ongoing global dominance, but the sight of Elliott - then, as she notes on her sixth album The Cookbook, "a chubby chick" - bouncing around in an inflatable suit to the single's woozy chorus, succeeded in making at least one viewer choke on his Chablis. Everything else in the programme was obviously part of a continuum that stretched back to Ray Charles.