The buddy album is a beautiful thing. Two artists with mutual respect and admiration get to push themselves outside of their respective comfort zones to create something that’s (hopefully) greater than the sum of its parts. But mostly, they have fun. There’s a buildup of energy when you’re working off of someone that just isn’t the same when you’re essentially alone in the recording booth or on stage. This is why we like posse cuts or features in rap so much — there’s a friendly competition that has everyone stepping up their game; it’s also why rappers are often way better on other people’s songs than their own.
Watch the Throne is an unprecedented feat when it comes to the buddy-album format. Kanye and Jay-Z are not the only artists to have teamed up for a record, but never have there been stars as individually famous and larger-than-life who have been able to come together to create something that electric and fun. Just take a look at the “Otis” video and tell me it doesn’t bring a smile to your face to see the two best friends egging each other on and bringing the best out of each other.
WTT was a commercial and critical success, and the tour — with its record 12 back-to-back performances of “N***as in Paris” during their show in Paris — was the hottest ticket of the year. There are already plans for a second album.
But before that, I think it’s about time that we had a female Watch the Throne album. We’ve had some fun collabs between female rappers and their R&B counterparts throughout the years, but it’s time for a full-on proper buddy rap album from the ladies.
Missy’s been away from the game for a minute, but she’s been gearing up for a comeback this past year. In 2011 she divulged that she’d been struggling with Graves’ disease the previous three years, which took a significant toll on her health. After radiation for hyperthyroidism and a lifestyle overhaul, though, Missy’s been heading back into the studio with her partner-in-crime Timbaland to make new music.
But a lot has changed since Missy was active in the industry. The younger generation coming up might not remember or know that she was a mentor to so many beloved artists, as well as a musical genius and force of nature in her own right. Teaming up with a younger female rapper like Nicki, who has been doing her part to keep rap interesting in a field dominated by dudes, would be a move that would not only be smart, but be fitting for someone as trailblazing as Missy.
Missy and Nicki have never shied away from embracing the bizarre or grotesque in their videos and personas. Whether it’s Missy’s head dislocating from her body, or Nicki playing her various alter egos (one of which includes Roman, the twin brother she says she ate in the womb), both women are never afraid to really go for the theatrics. Getting these two together is just guaranteed be absolutely bonkers.
They’re not afraid of looking weird, either, whether it’s in a music video or on the red carpet, and they avoid having to fit into a “sexpot” image that many other female rappers adhere to.
I mean, not only did Missy produce and write practically all her own albums, she’s also responsible for some huge tracks by other stars, like Whitney Houston, Aaliyah, TLC, Destiny’s Child, Busta Rhymes, Ginuwine, and Beyoncé.
Nicki’s accents and alter egos are just begging for something as fun and inventive as Missy Elliott’s production to play against. As much Nicki’s own songs play to her strengths and are zany in their own right, hearing her rap over songs that sound like “The Rain” (would love to see what she would do with that one), “Get Ur Freak On,” or even on the funk-influenced “Can’t Stop” would be a new sound and challenge for her.
Just one example: They’re not totally the same, but you can definitely hear some of the same elements from Missy’s “Lose Control” in Nicki’s “Stupid Hoe.”
She’s done a ton of features and collaborations on tracks with male rappers, but as far as supporting other women in the rap game, she has much to learn from someone like Missy, who was always eager to share the stage with her peers.
*This Madonna song featuring M.I.A. does not count.
Missy’s been talking about gathering female rappers to go out on their own tour for years now, and she’s been pushing for unity and the end of needless beefs between artists like Lil’ Kim and Nicki.
“Listen, if we can get it done, I’ll open up [the tour],” Missy told MTV last fall. “I don’t care, I’ll go on at 6:30. I would love to see that. I think it would be epic.”
“I love to see women just have on their own,” she said. “You watch the guys do it all the time, they go out on the road with each other, probably don’t even like each other, and they’re going to get that money.”
For now, one of the closest things we’ve gotten to that all-female tour is Lil’ Kim’s 1997 song “Not Tonight (Ladies’ Night remix),” featuring Missy, Da Brat, Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes, and Angie Martinez.
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