Missy Elliott feat. Ciara and Fatman Scoop — “Lose Control”

Released: 5.27.05

Peak: #3

Missy Elliott can be a hard act to follow, especially when you’re Missy Elliott. Misdemeanor’s blockbuster hits (need I even mention them?) overshadow her other singles, which are often merely brilliant. I love “One Minute Man” (and not just for Luda upstaging Jay), “Gossip Folks” (Frankie Smith gets his due) and “Pass That Dutch” (droppin’ bombs like Saddam); you could make a serious case that any of those belonged here. Only Greil Marcus believes it the duty of every pop song to utterly rend the fabric of creation, and what a disappointing life that must be.

Timbaland can be just as hard an act to follow. Collaborating with a genius is a sure way to see your efforts short-changed, and though Tim no doubt deserves substantial credit for Missy’s peaks, it’s stupid to ignore Missy’s co-production credits. Missy’s raps are an essential rhythmic component of her hits–in fact, as an MC, her chief contributions to hip-hop have come from the rhythm of her flows, rather than her strictly lyrical content. (Very Old School of her.) And “Lose Control” stands as the best track that Missy ever produced herself, for herself (Tweet’s “Oops (Oh My)” remains the absolute best), because it’s a bravura vocal showcase.

The beat on the verses is stunningly bare: just handclaps and an occasional bass drop, decorated with a rising synth figure from Cybotron’s “Clear.” A fuller electro beat takes over the chorus, but still four voices dominate the song: Missy punching, ragging, and swooping past the beat with her rhymes; Ciara, who breaks from backup duties with a cute little rap; Fatman Scoop bellowing in the back; and that “music make you lose control” chant from Hot Streak’s “Body Work.” Deploying those voices as rhythmic elements against the simplicity of the beat, “Lose Control” is a very un-Timbaland-like bit of re-assembly. And, yes, Missy is very much in control.

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