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Missy Elliott 

Under Construction (Elektra)

The girl just wants to have fun. On her fourth album, Missy Elliott calls out for hardcore folks in the streets and kids in the clubs to get their asses shaking and the dance floors quaking. She spreads love and generally gets the party started right. The deaths of Aaliyah and Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes made her reassess her life, and Elliott figures it's too damn short for dissing and pissing on everything.

And Elliott and partner/producer Timbaland have quite a time whooping it up: Under Construction is the most jubilant rap record since The Blueprint, and Timbaland pretty much fortifies his status as hip-hop's most inventive producer. From the wonderfully loopy "Gossip Folks" to the joy-of-sex "Work It," his futuristic beats and beeps and burps fuel the album.

Aside from a few lapses -- cameos by Method Man, Ms. Jade, and Beyonce Knowles are pointless -- Under Construction is a sound celebration. "What happened to those good old days, when hip-hop was so much fun?" Elliott asks in "Back in the Day," an old-school-history duet with Jay-Z. "It was all about the music, y'all." Under Construction remembers.

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More by Michael Gallucci

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