Business as usual for newly slimmed-down genius
Is it possible for the astounding to become a routine? Elliott’s fourth album of a miraculously productive career trounces all other hip hop and R&B releases in 2002 with unnerving nonchalance. Her preoccupations this time are sex (as usual), old-school hip hop and the deaths of Aaliyah and TLC’s Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes, while Timbaland mixes up Afrobeat, acid, playground voices and vintage rap samples to typically breathtaking effect. Yet there’s a suspicion these pioneers are taking it rather easier than on last year’s Miss E: the albums follow uncannily similar patterns, with Method Man and Ludacris guesting on tracks two and three for the second record running. When she’s raised the stakes so high, anything less than the reinvention of music comes as a disappointment.