Russell Baillie

Just two albums down, Missy "Misdemeanour" Elliot is riding a fine line between hip-hop heavyweight and pop princess.


She's already proved she can do both - on debut album Supa Dupa Fly - and a lot more besides, having also moonlighted in the studio for the likes of Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson.

Now on sophomore effort she and producer partner Tim "Timbaland" Mosley deliver another sassy, sultry, surly treat of an album.

It's downright stroppy at times - Missy employs the word "bitch" (self-referentially of course) more on her songs than you'd hear in a year at a veterinary clinic.

But the way the lines of She's a Bitch are delivered, you can't help but think she means well in a girls-can-do-anything kind of way, and that she's an enjoyable antidote to the tide of male hip-hop misogyny - even when various exponents of it are on her guest list and delivering it to her face.

Like when the newly infamous hip-hop nasty boy Eminem turns up early on Busa Rhyme (on which Elliot amusingly tosses in the hook from Play That Funky Music White Boy), or when Redman vents his toxic spleen on Dangerous Mouths.

That comes alongside deft pop tracks that range from the bittersweet (All In My Grill in two versions, the second featuring French rapper MC Solaar) to the lustful (Hot Boyz).

And with a sparse but punchy mix of crisply syncopated rhythms (which remind of Prince from way back when), quasi-classical strings and imaginative vocal treatments, Elliot's sound is given quite a personality.

So's she.