“Get Ur Freak On” by Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott (2001)

At the beginning of “Get Ur Freak On”, Missy Elliott proclaims that this is “some new shit”, and, indeed, “Get Ur Freak On” was totally unique song. “Cutting-edge” was already a term often used to describe Missy and her co-conspirator Tim “Timbaland” Mosely, but “Get Ur Freak On” was particularly innovative. Seven years before Slumdog Millionaire and a year or two before Jay-Z teamed up with Panjabi MC, “Freak” brought East Indian music to the top 40. I’m reasonably positive that it was the first rap song featuring a tabla drum to crack the Billboard charts.

What’s crazy is that Missy and Tim took a sound that was unfamiliar to most of America (especially in the pre-social media days) and turned it into a jam that lit clubs up universally-folks from Bakersfield to Portland, Maine¹ were doing their best herky-jerky dance moves.

Now, in terms of pure emceeing, Missy’s rap skills are pretty rudimentary. But, like many average-or-below emcees (like Kanye), she knows how to make good records. “Get Ur Freak On” isn’t meant to be a lyrical masterpiece, it’s meant to be danced to. She succeeds wholeheartedly with that mission.

¹-Does Portland, Maine have dance/hip-hop clubs? Because I’ve spent significant time in that town and I’ve yet to see evidence that people there are into anything other than…like, Phish.

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