What becomes a legend most? In Missy Elliott’s case, it’s not the minimal beats, which were revolutionary before their time, or the effortless wordplay that sticks to the roof of your brain, but rather an attitude that cuts straight through the usual hip-hop nonsense and speaks directly to her audience. On “Wake Up,” a seemingly rote diss of MC attitude from her latest and greatest album, “This Is Not a Test,” she assures, “It’s OK if you gotta wear those jeans twice”; an obvious shot at Jay-Z, who famously never wears a pair of sneakers more than once.
Even as she deflates most hip-hop credos, she understands the power of its appeal better than anyone, even Jay-Z. The divine Miss E can point out her imperfections without sounding phony and boost her sexual talents without making it seem exceptional. Complimenting 50 Cent while leaving him at the door of da club, she jiggles and wiggles to the beat with no regard for the sex-u-up priorities that characterize rap and R&B videos. There’s fun and community in her booty-shaking, which is why her concerts are such a blast. Hip-hop loves to create personas, but Missy is the real thing, and the real thing is a lot more exciting than some fly girl who’s worried more about the way her abs look and not cracking her nails than getting the party started immediately. This will be her first trip to Japan. Make her want to come back.