The only positive thing to happen during this week of terrorist bombings and executions has been the release of Missy Elliott’s latest song and video, “WTF (Where They From)” featuring Pharrell Williams. After the success of her Superbowl appearance earlier this year with Katy Perry, it was fairly evident that the masses have long been clamoring for her return. Her seventh studio album, Block Party, is at last slated for release after Elliott’s long battle with Graves’ disease.
So severe were the symptoms of her illness that at one point, she couldn’t even hold a pen to write one of her legendary songs. But now that she’s back to a more stable physical point in her life, it’s almost as though nothing ever got her down. Elliott is at her best with her signature dance moves, video special effects and marionettes modeled after herself and Pharrell.
Sporting an array of costumes, including a glittering jumpsuit, a “Biggie 97” (RIP) beanie and a “WTF” bike messenger hat (in her puppet incarnation), the video harkens back to the innovation of “Da Rain (Supa Dupa Fly).” Set against the appropriate backdrop of Harlem (which has more edge in its quote unquote pinkie than any other part of New York at this moment in time), Elliott’s dancers showcase daring feats of maneuvering on a two-wheeled self-balancing scooter by doing handstands, jumps and other such acts of agility.
At the end, the milieu changes to a row of cubes that look like homeless shelter beds, a semi-homage to the “Human Nature” video perhaps. Her combination of self-referencing (“pop that, pop that”) and fresh lyrics create a track that is singularly Missy. Only she could take a song rife with insults–“The dance that you doin’ is dumb/How they do where you from?”–and turn it into an anthemic beat that should be present in every club heretofore.