Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott feat. Aaliyah - "Best Friends"

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I don't get complaints that Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott's ballads are the least interesting things she records (although commercially that's another story). 2001's "Take Away" does that Timbo lapidary, robotoid groove only he can create; and last year's Scott Storch collaboration "Meltdown" was candid and no-fuss, like sex with your partner after a party.

But my favorite is this obscure number from Supa Dupa Fly, in which Missy's unforced, unassuming croon offers Aaliyah sisterly counsel without getting soppy. The watery oboe which counterpoints the chorus reminds them that friendship, like life, is wearying and often without reward, especially when men are around to fuck it up. Elliott and Aaliyah make us believe they've earned the right to believe the platitudinous relief of the lyrics.