Review Summary: Oh Missy, try to maintain.
Compare the album covers. On Supa Dupa Fly Missy is in full recumbent pose on a couch, eyes half closed, and a slight smile playing across her lips. She looks blissed out. On Da Real World she glares into the camera with her face fixed firmly in a frown. Dark clouds blot the horizon while lightning crashes in the background. She looks pissed off. On Da Real World, Missy is fed up and dead serious. As a female, a fixture of mistreatment in rap, it makes sense that Missy would use her sophomore album to demand respect and clever of her to reclaim the word “bitch” for empowerment, but she goes about it with a po-faced demeanor that suffocates the fun out of the album.
That being said things get off to a good start. Timbaland’s style takes a turn for the dramatic, with dark and ominous strings and teeth cracking drums, while Missy comes down hard on “Beat Biters” and demand men pay her rent or scram on “All n My Grill”. She was wise enough to invite Eminem onto “Busa Rhyme” and get the hell out of his way relegating herself to guest status to avoid getting crushed on her own track while Eminem does what 1999 Eminem did, drop stunning rhyme schemes (“I’m not a commodity/I’m an oddity/Who oddly enough developed a Halloween following”) and showcase his chaotic evil sense of humor.
It doesn’t last though; starting with “Mr. DJ” things get forgettable making this the frontloaded album that Supa Dupa Fly wasn’t. Nothing is especially bad but aside from the unpredictably fun “She’s a Bitch” the rest of the songs just check the boxes for standard Missy filler. The bonkers beat of “Smooth Chick” gets wasted on a bland chorus, boring guests mar the racing strings of “U Can’t Resist”, and “Crazy Feelings” phones in Beyonce for the lame ballad. With only the aforementioned “She’s a Bitch” being worth your time the album sags hard in the second half.
Even when the album is good it never feels inclusive. Unlike Supa Dupa Fly’s joyous weed session or Under Construction’s big-hearted calls to end the beef, Da Real World has a cold metallic sheen to it that’s off putting. I like the way Missy turns the tables on men by demanding they *** her right and keep her looking good but dead serious doesn’t look good on Missy. Since it’s stuck between the near perfect Supa Dupa Fly and the insanely creative Miss E… So Addictive, Da Real World feels like having to sit in the principal’s office between recess and art class. Can we get this over with already"