Prior to her debut album, Southern Hummingbird, Tweet made her name as a protégée of Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott, appearing as a backing/guest vocalist on a few tracks with Elliott and, naturally, Elliott's producer, Timbaland. It should come as no surprise that those are the two dominant personalities on Southern Hummingbird, even if Tweet produces and co-writes several cuts here, since this whole axis has one sound that has served them well. Served them so well, it's given them critical and chart hits, along with a host of imitators, so there is no reason to abandon it now, even if the skeletal rhythms and endlessly looped riffs are beginning to wear a bit thin. This formula depends more on the overall sound of the track than the charisma of the singer -- but, ironically enough, it works best when its fronted by somebody with personality, like Elliott. Tweet fades into the mix. She's attractive and is sweetly sexy, but isn't forceful. That works to her advantage on the lead single, "Oops (Oh My)," where she's so taken by a seduction she can barely speak, or even name who's taking her. Driven by a clever Casio-bass clarinet loop, it's the hottest thing on the record, punctured slightly by Elliott's disarming murmur, "I was feeling so good I had to touch myself," but it's good enough to withstand that. The rest of Southern Hummingbird sustains the essential feel of that track, occasionally forcing a Sign o the Times-era Prince to the forefront (which is welcome), and it does have a few songs that distinguish themselves, such as "Smoking Cigarettes," but it all blends together a little bit too much to be distinctive and, as such, it has a faint feel of product, a slow seduction record for the Timbaland-worshipping hipster set. A feel that is only enhanced by the end of the record, when Tweet actually records her thank you shout-outs as a full track, then, as a bonus, there are two uncredited Missy Elliott tracks that don't seem to have a trace of Tweet to them. Their inclusion is puzzling, unless you consider them the overdue payment of distinctive hip-hop for those hardcore fans who sat through the even-handed, stylish but samey urban soul that is Southern Hummingbird.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
feat: Missy Elliott
feat: Missy Elliott