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.