In the decade since Missy Elliott's most recent album, the topography of mainstream hip-hop has experienced some seismic shifts: AutoTune's virus-like proliferation, trap's arrival in the public conscience, and the rising vanguard of minimalist producers (DJ Mustard and Hit-Boy) and emotionally vulnerable MCs (Drake, Future), just to name a few. Sure, these developments have breathed new life into the genre. But with Missy's relative silence, there's nonetheless been a void: a longing for her inimitable, intimidating blend of humor, irony, allusion, and pure badassery.
With "Where They From (WTF)", Missy's come back to fill that space with some much-needed tough love. "The dance you doing is dumb/ How they do where you from," she absconds, before turning a side-eye to a certain tongue-waggling reveler: "Stickin' out your tongue girl/ But you know you're too young/ A bunch of girls do it and the shit looks fun/ That's how they do it where we from." (Miley, what’s good?) But don’t let the shade throw you.
Ultimately, the song's less about shaming and more about addressing problematic cultural appropriation. Among these serious themes, Missy still compares herself to a Big Mac and bisque, flippantly waving off the competition (“Blah-blah-blah, you best to go rewrite your bars”). She even entertains an endearingly dopey guest verse from producer Pharrell, but Buffalo Hat Bill's clattering beat is more than enough to herald Missy’s return. What a time.