Missy Elliott did for hip-hop what Björk did for alternative music, which is to say that she swooped in from outer space, made a bunch of freaky-deaky sounds, worked some futuristic musical jujitsu, and left everybody saying, "Huh?" With her heee haaa heee haaas, her toot toots, her gadong-a-dong-dongs and her why-thai-thai-o-toy-o-thai-thai, Missy differentiates herself from most female singers by using her voice as a versatile musical instrument, forming not just words but noises, nonsense, and beats.
If there were one word to describe Missy, it would be unafraid. She's unafraid to make experimental videos, unafraid to use her sense of humor, unafraid to rap about sex, and unafraid to be a big girl in a world of "chickens." "If you is a h-o-e get a j-o-b/ I'm h-o-t on the t-o-p," spits Missy Elliott on "Spelling Bee," a track from her new album, This Is Not a Test. In "Let Me Fix My Weave," she says, "I met a guy named Tommy/Very charming/He was on me like cheese be on macaroni." On "Pass That Dutch," which she calls "my hip-hop Riverdance," she includes the sound of a horse neighing and sings, "This beat here will make you hoomp, boomp, jump/If you's a fat one, put your clothes back on/Before you start putting pot holes in my lawn."
Easy as it might be to fill this column with Missy's lyrics, we must also mention her co-stars on the "Ladies First" tour, which kicks off at the Office Depot Center (1 Panthers Pkwy., Sunrise) today. There's Alicia Keys, who won five Grammys (the most ever by a female artist) in 2001 with her debut album, Songs in A Minor; and Beyoncé, who repeated the feat this year with her album Dangerously in Love. Joining them is opening act Tamia, an R&B singer and wife of basketball star Grant Hill. Tickets cost $49.50 to $76.50, and the show starts at 7 p.m. Call 954-835-8275. -- Deirdra Funcheon
Drop in and rock on
Bands are like Tetris pieces: Some stack together nicely, making for a great show, and others just don't fit at all, leaving the audience feeling the game's over before the final encore. However, Saturday's show at the Surf Café (395 NE Spanish River Blvd., Boca Raton) is the right combination, featuring the post-punk mayhem of the Holy Terrors, the punk and garage of the Heatseekers, and the sci-fi indie rock of the Mission Veo (the jury's still out on Vanilla Friendship Bracelet). "We always appreciate being able to play for a different audience," says Heatseekers drummer Chuck Loose, adding that the Holy Terrors always make for a good show. Hardly newcomers, the Terrors have spent the past 14 years making the rounds throughout South Florida, pleasing audiences with their hard-driving punk 'n' roll. In stark contrast is the relatively new Mission Veo. While the band's been playing out for less than a year, it has already begun turning heads with its lo-fi, high-energy performances. And as always, the Heatseekers promise to deliver their usual cache of ear-splitters. Whether you're into Fear, the Fallouts, or the Faint, Saturday's show will have something to suit your taste. The show starts at 9 p.m. Call 561-392-1965. -- Deirdra Funcheon
A Girl, a Guitar, and Guts
To be a successful musician, just play your ass off, introduce yourself to more-established rock stars, and launch your own record label. This formula worked for singer-songwriter Melissa Ferrick, champion of the do-it-yourself ethic. She had dropped out of Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music in the early '90s when Morrissey came to town. According to legend, his opening act canceled an hour before showtime, and Ferrick was called in to substitute. Morrissey, impressed, invited her to join him for the entire tour.
Since then, Ferrick has gained a cult following for her intensely personal songs about love gone bad, self-doubt, and romantic longing. In 2001, she set up a record company in her Massachusetts home. "Right On Records is really a means to an end," she says. "To me, records aren't complicated. You make one, try to get it into stores, make sure your posters don't suck, stay on the road, and keep your website interesting." Ferrick plays Respectable Street at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 13. Tickets cost $12. Call 561-832-9999. -- Deirdra Funcheon
A Gay History Lesson
It's the early 20th Century, and a ship full of sailors, bound in tight quarters, quietly sails across the open sea. While the rear admiral seems to have taken up astronomy as his new hobby -- singing about "Moons over Uranus" -- he has an entirely different set of celestial bodies in mind: the young sailors aboard the ship. This is one of countless situations from the past 120 years in which gay men cruise one another. And it is the topic of Cruise Control, the latest production by local writer/performer Terry Hammond, which debuts this Saturday at the ArtServe Auditorium (1350 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale). The entertaining new musical includes such comically titled songs as "Ballad of a Fluffer," "Bare-assed Kick Line," and "The Showers and the Growers." Catch a glimpse of gay culture before the modern conveniences of discos and gay bars. Check out Cruise Control weekends from Saturday through April 18 (excluding April 3). Tickets cost $23. Call 954-390-7610. -- Jason Budjinski