Missy Elliott's Return Is Everything We Crave "We need it," says critic Ann Powers of the rapper's comeback, which yielded an eye-popping new video on Thursday. "There's really no other figure like her in all of hip-hop."
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Missy Elliott's Return Is Everything We Crave

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Missy Elliott's Return Is Everything We Crave

Missy Elliott's Return Is Everything We Crave

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's been a decade since rapper Missy Elliott released an album and three years since she dropped a solo track. When she performed during last year's Super Bowl Halftime Show, fans went wild. And those fans went wild again today.

(SOUNDBITE OF MISSY ELLIOTT SONG, "WTF - WHERE THEY FROM")

CORNISH: Elliott released a new song and video to go with it. It's called "WTF - Where They From." NPR music critic Ann Powers tells us why it's good to have her back.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WTF - WHERE THEY FROM")

MISSY ELLIOTT: (Rapping) Stickin' out the tongue, girl, but you know you're too young. A bunch of girls do it and this (expletive), it look fun. That's how they do it where we from. You know it don't start 'til one.

ANN POWERS, BYLINE: Missy Elliott is a unique figure in the history of pop music and particularly in the video age. She's known for these incredibly inventive, very kinetic, outrageous outfits, doing dance moves that just dazzle you and, of course, rhyming like nobody's business as well.

Missy's style of rhyming is unique. Of course she can turn amazing phrases like the greatest rappers who've ever lived, but she's also a master of nonsense language, of making language that doesn't seem to say anything say so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WTF - WHERE THEY FROM")

ELLIOTT: (Rapping) This how they do it where they from. I'm like, ka-kuh-daka-daka-dak (ph). Make a new track. Make them formally crack.

POWERS: The video, which is co-directed by Missy Elliott and her longtime collaborator Dave Myers, shows a bunch of fans rhyming along to the recording. And then we get Missy herself surrounded by dancers, as she always is in her videos, wearing crazy outfits. One looks like a disco ball. One makes her look like a Cubist painting. It's right in line with what Missy's always done.

But that's what we crave. We need it, and there's really no other figure like her in all of hip-hop. She's not afraid to cross all kinds of boundaries and just to be herself. Thank you, Missy, for filling that Missy-sized gap that we've had in pop for so long.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WTF - WHERE THEY FROM")

ELLIOTT: (Rapping) How they do it where you from? How they do it where you from? This how they do it where we from. That's how they do it where they from.

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