MISSY ELLIOTT & r & & r & Block Party & r & & r & 1-1/2 STARS & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & W & lt;/span & hen Missy dropped Izzer Kizzer on 2002's Gossip Folks, you got up off yours and let your tail feather hit the floor. Admit it. Missy's up to the same tricks in Block Party and made a point of recording more getcher-freak-on-type cuts with the likes of Timbaland, T-Pain and Pharrell. But after nearly two decades in the biz, Missy has yet to say anything in her albums, except to celebrate her uber-bitchdom or to assert herself as rap's alpha-female.
Block Party -- bereft of any substance, in true Missy fashion -- has its amusing moments, of course. The beat driving the hook of "Best Best" sounds like the demented offspring of the soundtrack from A Clockwork Orange and any given musical score from an NES video game. And if that isn't reason enough to give the album a hear, I don't know what is.
-- TIM BROSS
DOWNLOAD: "Best Best"
Harps & amp; Angels
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & M & lt;/span & ost listeners have come to know and associate Randy Newman with his movie scores for Pixar and Disney. And that's fine, given the expansive output, the numerous nominations, and the Academy Award he earned just a few years ago. But with Harps & amp; Angels, the brash, witty, cynical, but ultimately insightful Newman returns -- just not with something for the kids.
The 10 piano-driven tracks on the album reveal Newman's unmatched sardonic and satirical sense. If the album is a return to some of Newman's best stylings from the '70s, it's no surprise that his Dixieland roots shine as he explores his vision of America. Take "A Few Words in Defense of Our Country" -- an honest assessment of our atrocious past leaders, with a shrug that our present ones could be much worse. As usual with Newman, it's hard to tell who's being mocked.
-- CAREY MURPHY
DOWNLOAD: "A Piece of the Pie"