[6] Missy Elliott, ‘Get Ur Freak On’

Get Ur Freak On

Here’s something we prepared earlier:

What makes ‘Get Ur Freak On’ so great? Is it the much-imitated-but-then-truly-original bhangra shake turning hip hop inside out? Is it Timbaland’s beats cutting up sharp enough to slice through Run-D.M.C.’s gold chains? Is it the punctuating “holla”s that stop the record stone dead to let you catch a breather before the nagging resumes at twice the power? Is it hindsight – or even prescience – that Missy and Timbaland have reached their creative peak here and all that’s left are old skool retreads and a steady stream of career revivals for Furtado, Ciccone and whoever’s next? Is it the “hach-TOO” flying in your face? Is it the pie-eyed mix of vocal tics and screams rubbing up against punishing techno twangs that makes you think you’ve stepped into some sci-fi jungle nightmare, shortly before you realise you actually have?

Yes.

Junior says: “I need more fingers.” She means thumbs; two thumbs up isn’t enough for this, apparently. It is also “good”.

Best bits: “IN YOUR FACE.” Although it’s one big good bit of pop culture, so picking a particular moment might be slightly, erm, reductive.

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[41] Aaliyah, ‘Try Again’

Try Again

What a damn shame. The Noughties were made for Aaliyah, weren’t they? The slinky R&B diva bending chromium beats to her will. Instead, Timbaland had to resort to making a just-about-convincing coldhearted Maneater out of Nelly Furtado. Here’s what happened back in March 2007 when we covered ‘Try Again’ for the 2000 countdown on the old blog:

“Robot pop. Not an ounce of humanity in it unless you’re counting Aaliyah’s soulless croon. Timbaland is the techno Dr Frankenstein and ‘Try Again’ is a wired-up, machine-spliced monster. Magnificent. Junior didn’t listen to one icily syncopated note, but can say “Aaliyah”.”

And now?

Junior says: “Aaliyah,” with a little more clarity. She’s sorry to hear about her early demise – we let that one slip, but four-year-olds are pretty sang-froid – mainly because she enjoys the dancing in the video (Jukebox Junior is well multimedia in 2010).

Best bit: It goes nowhere except, well, the outer reaches of the solar system. It’s consistently at its best.

[1] Missy Elliott, ‘Get Ur Freak On’

For all my efforts, Junior doesn’t quite have the weight of cultural history on her small shoulders, so true innovation won’t astonish her just yet. To her, ‘Get Ur Freak On’ has a slinky groove that makes those unburdened shoulders shimmy, but – as far as artistic impact goes – it faces tough competition from the Rice Krispies.

So, what makes ‘Get Ur Freak On’ so great? Is it the much-imitated-but-then-truly-original bhangra shake turning hip-hop inside out? Is it Timbaland’s beats cutting up sharp enough to slice through Run-D.M.C.’s gold chains? Is it the punctuating “holla”s that stop the record stone dead to let you catch a breather before the nagging resumes at twice the power? Is it hindsight – or even prescience – that Missy and Timbaland have reached their creative peak here and all that’s left are old skool retreads and a steady stream of career revivals for Furtado, Ciccone and whoever’s next? Is it the “hach-TOO” flying in your face? Is it the pie-eyed mix of vocal tics and screams rubbing up against punishing techno twangs that makes you think you’ve stepped into some sci-fi jungle nightmare, shortly before you realise you actually have?

Yes.