Music, meanwhile, is just as welcomingly brilliant as ever. Missy's album is still excellent, though her own contributions on some tracks seem to be somewhat skimpy for it to be a "Missy album". Perhaps she should have just have been creative director on an all-star extravaganza. My current favourite: "We Did It", a shuddering beat, the hook an almost lazy striking of some metallic object, overlaid with those sweeping, lachrymose strings. I don't know how Timbaland came up with the idea of basing a whole album around combining his trademark beats with baroque string flourishes, but by God it works.
There's a rapidly growing sub-genre forming within the post-Timbaland panicpop r'n'b/hip hop, of songs with this amazing latin vibe. Not latin in the Ricky Martin sense - some token Spanish words, a couple of session musicians and lots of pelvic thrusting - but really in the molecular construction of the music. I'm thinking of tracks like Eve's "What Ya Want", Missy's "She's A Bitch" and "Mr. D.J.", Kelis' "Caught Out There" and "I Want Your Love", Pink's "Split Personality" and "Private Show", even Christina Aguilera's "Genie In A Bottle". There's something about the drum programming in these tracks which is just indescribably lovely, simultaneously languid and frenetic, an incredible rolling groove constructed out of rigid, reticular beats. And that's really all that's necessary. "Private Show", for example, is little more than the latinesque beat, some Kraftwerkian synth squiggles and the everpresent, sticky-brittle swish of hi-hats. It's probably the most intensely rhythmic track I've heard this year, and it's so simple, really. Don't listen to the detractors, now is the time to be alive.