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21 of 25 found the following review helpful:
"It's Real" Predictable Mar 24, 2004
By Andrew Jacob
Track #8 is titled "Don't Be Cruel"...I'm sorry, but it has to be done.
Missy Elliott's 5th album can be described as one thing: predictable. The vital thing that made her past efforts (mainly "Supa Dupa Fly" & "Miss E...So Addictive") work was the flawless production, which managed to sound like "contemporary hip hop/pop" yet (sighing in embarrassment) be somewhat good quality. This time around, Missy Elliott desperately tries to take it back "old school." The only problem is that she also manages to bring along the flaws that were present then. Now usually, these "tiny flaws" weren't emphasized, so naturally it went on to be unnoticed. But since the music world has advanced in terms of complex sounds, many of the problems present in the album become increasingly substandard, magnifying her efforts to a point of "unappealing." Even when Missy Elliott does introduce something new, it becomes more and more second rate; pathetic attempts in weaving reggae together with modern R&B and questionable collaborations with no chemistry.
When it comes to lyrics, it can't get any more predictable. "I'm Really Hot" is "really" dumb; it's that typical "Missy Elliott" thing where she rambles on how she's the best at everything. Missy Elliott also pathetically attempts on adding humor, like in the song "Let Me Fix My Weave." Just by seeing the title of the song, you already can tell how stupid it probably sounds. Although it is somewhat appealing, the track "Wake Up" is scarred with hypocrisy; it's a song about how the state of hip-hop has been corrupted and how we all have to stop this "BS & Violence". Now I'm fine with the whole concept of "consciousness", but when this advice comes from an artist like Missy Elliott, who 90% of her songs, tries to personify herself to be a thug-chick, it seems to sound obligated and forced... Then she has, of all people, Jay Z telling other people to stop being so materialistic. Its funny how hypocritically contradicting this song is. Even the "better" sounding songs on the album like "Toyz", "Pass That Dutch", & "I'm Not Perfect" tend to sound typical and ordinary at best. Even the production by Timbaland cannot redeem any quality even though good intent was there. And I'm a little tired of Missy Elliott including artists who passed away in her lyrics (Jam Master Jay, Notorious B.I.G., Left Eye, Big Pun, & Aaliyah). I, like many others, loved these artists... and i'm sure Missy Elliott truly cared for them... but when she repeats them over and over in her songs, it seems to be more like she's using their name in vain... rather than paying tribute.
It seems to be a bad trend when artists lose the weight... along with the talent (it happened to Cam' Ron too). Perhaps Missy Elliott should go "under construction" again, because this new style of hers just doesn't work anymore. She needs to stop the generic subjects and obligated collaborations, which sound forced. She should also take her time (this album came pretty fast after the overly hyped "Under Construction".) I'm sure there are those "die-hard fans" that will disagree with me... but it's becoming more apparent that her career peaked at "Miss E... So Addictive"... being that that was her last "successful" yet "appealing" album. "Is This My Last Time" giving Missy Elliott the benefit of the doubt? Yes it is...
6 of 6 found the following review helpful:
Not Her Best, But Not Bad Jul 07, 2005
By Michael Brent Faulkner, Jr.
While THIS IS NOT A TEST! is definitely not the highlight of Missy Elliott's discography, it is by no means a bad album. This is still signature Missy with her R&B balladry and alternative rap "freshness". The production is flawless and the arrangements are as unpredictable as ever. Missy spits rhymes and croons sultry ballads. Yet, THIS IS NOT A TEST! does have its high points as well as low points.
As per the other Missy Elliott's albums, the album begins with an intro which in this instance features Mary J. Blige. Then when proceed into "Pass That Dutch", one of the albums better tracks, but it isn't stellar by any means. It lacks the hit quality that songs like "Get Ur Freak On" (MissE...So Addictive) or "Work It" (Under Construction) had. It is still fun nonetheless.
The next song is "Wake Up" which features Jay-Z. While the background arrangment and drum programming are cool, the song has flaws. Missy's rhyme is fine, but Jay-Z surprisingly delivers a rather average if not mediocre performance, a surprise for the great Hov. Either way, the hook to this selection is surprisingly catchy, which saves it.
Skipping "fillers" such as "Keep It Moving" feat. Elephant Man and "Is This Our Last Time" feat. Fabolous, the next mega moment of THIS IS NOT A TEST! is "I'm Really Hot". This is by far the highlight of the album. Not only is it signature Missy, its hook is really catchy making it easily comparable to "Get Ur Freak On" and "Work It". This makes the album worth it. Following it is a not too shabby, fun duet with R. Kelly called "Dats What I'm Talkin'About" in which Missy goes into R&B diva mode with the great Pied Piper of R&B himself. Sure, it can't compare to the classicism of say "Take Away" which feature Missy & Ginuwine (MissE...So Addictive), but it is again, a better track.
"Don't Be Cruel" is okay, yet it doesn't hold its own against tracks such as "I'm Really Hot". "Toyz" is fine as well, but you begin to see diminishing quality, which makes THIS IS NOT A TEST! slightly weaker than Missy's previous titles. Still, as "I'm Really Hot" states... "radio says I'm killin' 'em"; That statement couldn't be truer, even on this lesser effort. Missy is what creativity is about and what music is about; she tries not to conform which makes her different and makes each and every album she releases very unique, engaging, and exciting. I've already reviewed and listened to THE COOKBOOK and Missy raises the bar, just as she did on previous albums. Either way, this is still a 3.5 to 4 star album for me. I highly recommend Missy!
4 of 4 found the following review helpful:
Missy rules the world but this is not her best work Jan 27, 2004
First and foremost, I think that Missy Elliott rules the universe so this review comes from a true fan and not from one those haters out there. When I learned that she was releasing �This Is Not A Test� so quickly after the amazing �Under Construction� came out, I was not sure if that was a good thing or maybe an attempt to continue riding the growing wave of popularity that her work to date deserved. It�s a little of both, but for the most part this release feels like songs that did not make it to �Under Construction� as there is no variation, with the exception that there is a lot of filler and only a couple of strong songs. There's no need to blame Missy for not making a record that's no tight all the way through, especially since few artists in the R&B world are held to such scrutiny, but I wish that she had waited a while to release work that stands up to her previous work, which includes not only great songs, but also amazing videos, state of the art and out of the world production by Timbaland, humor, and infectious hooks that never leave your head.
THE GOOD: I like �I�m Really Hot� as it mixes Timbaland�s electro shock space beats with a confident Missy telling it like she really feels it. �Dat�s What I�m Talking About� starts out like a sexy Prince-inspired song but does not benefit by recording it as a duet as it loses the steam it began to generate. Missy�s humor comes through loud and clear in the prelude to �Toyz� and the song itself is actually pretty good as is �Let It Bump� with its futuristic beats meets old school. I also like the simple piano beginning of �It�s Real� as Missy sounds great and the song serves as a true change of pace in what sounds like too much sameness. �Let Me Fix My Weave� starts out with a lot of attitude, a great beat and its raw choruses have grown on me. �I�m Not Perfect� represents Missy at her best as she�s relaying positive messages with an infectious beat that makes you listen to the lyrics. I like the lyrics to �Intro� and �Outro� and both messages strongly benefit from the inclusion of Mary J. Blige, who should have been given a full song with Missy
THE BAD: In the rest of the release Missy relies way too much on sampling (�Is This Our Last Time�, �Don�t Be Cruel�), guests who don�t complement her, and it just lacks her killer spirit and all that is �Missy.� Some may not agree, but this release in some parts feels phoned in. Even the first single �Pass The Dutch� seems like a weak as production is AWESOME (love the car alarms, the horses, the Michael Jackson primal scream, and what seems to be an homage to Janet Jackson�s �Rhythm Nation�) but Missy does not attack it to match Timbaland�s out of this world production. �Pump It Up� almost works but ultimately falls flat and does not use of Nelly�s many talents. �Spelling Bee� may be the worst song that Missy has released.
I will always worship Missy and would follow her to the moon, but this release earns 3 stars while the previous two have been solid 5 star efforts. In my opinion Missy is the most interesting figure in hip-hop but this release is not indicative of her best work.
3 of 3 found the following review helpful:
Alternative Missy Dec 04, 2003
With "Under Construction," Missy mixed old school rhymes with futuristic Timbaland backbeats and created an album that matched the experimental "...So Addictive" in creativity. Now, with "This is Not A Test," she has mastered alternative dance and has created a funky album unlike anything she's done before.
With alternative dance comes alternative lyrics; Missy showcases her ability to rap about black society on both the intro and the outro, but especially the outro. On the brilliant "Wake Up," Missy shouts out to a nation of blacks over a simple drum and bell backbeat. Jay-Z adds a second punch to the song but is outrapped by Missy.
As opposed to using his own vocal effects as he has in the past, Timbaland mastered the effective use of the turntable a la Jam Master Jay on "This is Not A Test." The irresistable "Let It Bump" is an alternative piece of pie with percussion iller than ?uestlove's beats. "I'm Really Hot," hopefully the second single, lets Missy play back and forth with a funkadelic turntable during its chorus, and "Pump It Up," the more likely second single, gives Missy a chance to break back and forth with a turntable and Nelly.
Missy's new album also gave rise to what seems her trademark; futuristic sounding dance grooves that rely on Timbaland's unmatchable percussion and Missy's rhymthmic hooks to break into the mainstream; "Pass That Dutch" is the best example of this, in which Missy orgasms and gasps to a clap-back beat sicker than Wayne Wonder's "No Letting Go." "Don't Be Cruel" is a great song that gives Monica a chance to take the stage like Tina Turner and lead a rusty-pipe jam to a reggae schooling from Beenie Man, who outdoes Elephant Man in his appearance on "Keep It Movin'," a song that finds its primary interest in Missy speed-up slow-down style. "Is This Our Last Time" is a rock-beat over which the quiet-mouthed Fabolous drops some of the cleverest rhymes on the albums.
Missy relies a little too much on the ballad on this album; "Dats What I'm Talking About," "I'm Not Perfect," and "It's Real" are all soppy ballads that just take up space that more alternative hip hop could have filled. "Toyz," however, is a beautiful funk masterpiece and probably the first ode to the Mega Blaster.
How creative is Missy? Way too creative to sample as much as she did; "Don't Be Cruel" borrows a chorus line from Salt 'N Pepa's "Push It," while "Pump It Up" is already a popular Joe Budden horn jam. If Missy just stuck to her creativity and her guns, she could create an album even greater than "Under Construction." And she's still the only rapper who can rhyme "charming" with "macaroni" (take a listen to "Let Me Fix My Weave").
5 of 6 found the following review helpful:
O Missy Where Are you? It Seems She is Almost Back Feb 02, 2004
By M. J. Moore
I must say that compared to her three earlier, bangin' releases, that Missy's Under Construction was a lackluster, boring and very uninnovative release. The CD had nothing really exciting about it as it was a retread of earlier hip-hop. Her other three CDs, namely DA REAL WORLD and SO ADDICTIVE were some of the most creative all-around CDs ever. This CD kind of returns Missy to that status of being the uninhibited as we all know her as. However, the CD is not selling as well as the others and the debut single flopped.
BABY GIRL INTERLUDE/INTRO- Featuring Mary J. who does a good job here as the background vocal. Hearing this song, I knew that this CD was going to be better than her last. The beat is tight. A-
PASS THAT DUTCH- Produced by Missy herself, this creative trademark Missy song with all the noises and spectacle surprisingly did not do much as the first single. The song is as good as any of the other lead singles: GET UR FREAK ON, THE RAIN, SHE'S A B***H and WORK IT. A
WAKE UP- Featuring JayZ, this cut which is actually featured on the PASS THE DUTCH video is pretty tight. The track is definitely danceable, is Missy returnin to form and has JayZ giving some needed spark to the song. Produced by Timb and Missy, the song is one of the better on the CD. The beat is just banging for real. A
KEEP IT MOVIN- Produced by Missy and Timb and featuring Elephant Man, this midtempo, Reggaelike song is pretty good. It has Missy singing on it and remember she can do it pretty well. Of course, she is not one of the best but she can hold a note. Elephant Man's energy adds to the song and the song as a whole is tight. A
IS THIS OUR LAST TIME-Featuring Fabolous and produced by Missy and Souldiggaz, this old-school sounding track works better than almost any of the others from her previous CD, UNDER CONSTRUCTION. Missy sings on this one again and Fabolous adds much to the song with his kinda lazied vocals. The song talks about being the last time: is it over? We all know that feeling. Has something changed? A-
I'M REALLY HOT- This is Missy no doubt. This current single is off da chain no doubt. 2nd single that has party jam written all over it should have been released in the summer instead of now but it is tight. Produced by Missy and Craig "X" Brockman. A+
DATS WHAT IM TALKIN ABOUT- Featuring R Kelly and Missy's singing vocals, this track is kinda weird no doubt. Produced by Missy, Craig "X" Brockman and Nisan Stewart, with R Kelly on it does add some depth to it. Song is nothing to scream about but it does work. A-
DON'T BE CRUEL- Featuring Monica and Beenie Man and produced by Timb and Missy, the song is tight. It is so creative with a little bit of evrything in it: electronic, Reggae and of course the Missy/Timb type of Hip-Hop. It is nice hearing Monica sing in a new, more free way. Beenie Man does good with his part as well. A
TOYZ- Produced by Missy, this older sounding, 70ish skatin type song is nasty. It has Missy talking about toyz replacing the real thing. The song is..... B+
LET IT BUMP- Produced by Timb and Missy, this track which is a mix of the old school and Missy/Timb sound almost does not work but it is something that redeems it: maybe Missy's energy and the beat that is tite. The song works pretty well. A-
PUMP IT UP- Featuring Nelly and produced by Missy and Timb, this song is so weird. A mix of old school and new, it is not as good as I would like a Missy and Nelly collabo to be but it does work. Song has potential to be a single. It has a factory type kinda sound to it. Nelly does good with his part. A
IT'S REAL- Produced by Missy and Craig "X" Brockman has Missy holdin it down ballad/slow jam style. The song is refreshing no doubt and is a throwback to that old school kinda singing about the feelings of love being real. In fact, it has parts from a Chaka Khan song. Lindsey Fields gives some good background vocals and there is a nice bridge. A
LET ME FIX MY WEAVE- Produced by Timb and Missy, this midtempo about fixing the weave is nothing real special. Missy's rap is tight and it sounds like one of those battlin songs. The song however is missing something. A-
SPELLING BEE- Crazy beat and song about spelling. Is this Missy's favorite subject but it does show off her creativity. The beat is nothing special in this cut produced by Timb and Missy. A-
I'M NOT PERFECT- Featuring the Clark Sisters- Gospel vets- this song is refreshing with some tight vocals. It talks about no one being perfect which is an undoubted truth. Missy usually does these kinda songs at the end with an inspirational type song. A+
Overall, the CD is better than her last one, UNDER CONSTRUCTION and even the first one. It is not as old school and has some good beats although they are not as jammin and bangin as some of her other ones. The beats here are more crazy and midtempo but are good. If Missy just does a lil better with her next joint, she will no doubt be back to her former self of being the creative and innovative artist she is.
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