New music: Missy Elliott feat Timbaland – Triple Threat/9th Innings

Missy's disappointing return sees the once forward-thinking artist strangely stuck in the past

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Between 1997 and 2005, Missy Elliott released six albums of forward-thinking hip-hop, at a rate of about one every 18 months. Following the sporadically brilliant The Cookbook, however, she's been almost completely silent. Her seventh album, originally titled Block Party, was due in May 2008 but was delayed, before being scrapped all together, and the various producers she'd worked with – Danja, Pharrell, Soul Diggaz – pushed aside in favour of long-term collaborator Timbaland, who since 2005 has often delivered pale imitations of his former glories.

And so we come to the Missy Elliott of 2012. No longer the only brilliantly unhinged female rapper in the game (hello Nicki Minaj), and with EDM ruling the US charts, both Triple Threat and 9th Innings spend too long either bemoaning the state of music or bragging about how it can finally be saved by the duo's return ("2012 there will be no games, real rap, real bars, I'm not playing"). This would all be easier to swallow if the two singles lived up to, say, Work It or Get Ur Freak On, or if Missy had returned with something produced by hip-hop's new crop of production talent, such as Hit-Boy, Clams Casino or Hudson Mohawke. Both songs are fine, of course, but after all this time they needed to be so much more – perhaps it's time for Missy and Timbaland to permanently go their separate ways.

• Triple Threat/9th Innings are out now on US iTunes.


Michael Cragg

The GuardianTramp

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