After all, this is pop music, and as such, Test shouldn't be considered an artistic "statement" as much as a compendium of potential singles, of which a good ten would make a body giddy to hear on the radio. Of course, the real star of any Elliott release is her longtime collaborator, Timbaland, who produced all but the four tracks that Miss E herself produced (all of which pale), and on Test he's more percussive and wide-open than he's ever been; he's also more openly dabbling with Jamaican dancehall, which has always been an inspiration.
The record features collaborations with Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z, Elephant Man, Fabolous, R. Kelly, Monica, Beenie Man, Nelly and gospel trio the Clark Sisters; throughout those that Timba worked, you can hear the glory of the lockstep robot sound that he and fellow Virginians the Neptunes have perfected. Timba's Devo to the Neptunes' Gang of Four, but both are pushing hip-hop, and although his sound over the course of 60-plus minutes starts to sound same-samey, it's still shocking and transcendent, as is Missy's sassy party tone on these tracks. Still, one always hopes for that perfect Missy/Timbaland full length, their Sandinista! or Stankonia, and it's yet to arrive.