Missy Elliott

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Missy Elliott on the cover of her album Miss E. So Addictive

Missy Elliott (born Melissa Arnette Elliott on July 1, 1971 in Portsmouth, Virginia) is an African American singer, rapper, songwriter, and record producer. Formerly known as Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott, Elliott dropped "Misdemeanor" in 2003 and now goes by simply "Missy Elliott".

Elliott is one of the first female hip hop superstars, known for a long series of hits including "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)", "She's a Bitch", "Get Ur Freak On" and "Work It". In addition she has received recognition as one of the most successful songwriters of the modern music era, having crafted a number of hit records for artists such as Aaliyah, 702, Total, Nicole Wray and Tweet, often with production-partner and childhood friend Timbaland.



Early years

In the late-1980s, Elliott, LaShawn Shellman, Chonita Coleman and Radiah Scott formed an R&B group called Sista, for which Elliott served as a singer and songwriter. She recruited her neighborhood friend Timothy "DJ Timmy Tim" Mosley as the group's producer and began making demo tracks. In 1991, Sista caught the attention of Jodeci member/producer DeVante Swing by performing Jodeci songs acapella for him backstage after one of his group's concerts. In short order, Sista moved to New York City, now signed to Elektra Records through DeVante's Swing Mob imprint. Elliott took along with her Mosley, whom DeVante re-christened Timbaland, and their friend Melvin "Magoo" Barcliff.

All 20-plus members of the Swing Mob, among them future stars such as Ginuwine, Playa, and Tweet, all lived in a single two-story house in New York and were often at work on material both for Jodeci and for their own projects. Elliott contributed songwriting duties, both credited and uncredited, to the final two Jodeci albums: 1993's Diary of a Mad Band and 1995's The Show, The After Party, The Hotel. Timbaland and DeVante produced a Sista LP, 4 All the Sistas Around the World, which was completed in 1994 but was shelved and never released. By 1995, Swing Mob had folded and many of its members dispersed; Elliott, Timbaland, Magoo, Ginuwine, and Playa remained together, and would collaborate on each others' records for the rest of the decade.

Elliott/Mosley songwriting/production team

After leaving Swing Mob, Elliott and Timbaland began working together as an independent songwriting/production team, and the two of them crafted hit singles for a number of artists between 1995 to 1997. Among these acts were SWV ("Can We?") and 702 ("Steelo" and its remix), but the most notable of them was Aaliyah. Elliott and Timbaland wrote and produced nine tracks for Aaliyah's second album, One in a Million (1996), among them the hit singles "If Your Girl Only Knew", "One in a Million", "Hot like Fire", and "4 Page Letter". Elliott also contributed background vocals and/or guest raps to nearly all of the tracks she and Timbaland worked on. One in a Million went double-platinum and made stars out of the production duo. Elliott and Timbaland continued to work together for other artists, later creating hits for artists such as Total ("What About Us", 1997), Nicole Wray ("Make It Hot", 1998), and Destiny's Child ("Get on the Bus", 1998), as well as one final hit for Aaliyah, "I Care 4 U", before her 2001 death.

Solo career

As a solo rapper, Elliott began her career as a featured vocalist on MC Lyte's 1996 single "Cold Rock a Party", which was produced by Sean "Puffy" Combs; Combs had hoped to sign Elliott to Bad Boy Records. She instead signed a deal with Elektra Records in 1996 to create her own imprint, Goldmind, for which she would record as a solo artist. Timbaland was again recruited as her production partner, a role he would hold for every Elliott solo release.

Early success

Her debut album, released in mid-1997, was Supa Dupa Fly, which included "Da Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)", a blockbuster hit that established Elliott as a major force in popular music. Other singles included "Beep Me 911," which featured 702, Timbaland, and Magoo; "Hit 'Em wit da Hee," featuring rapper Mocha and Timbaland; and "Sock It 2 Me," a moderate hit which featured rhymes from Da Brat and a cameos by her and Lil Kim in the Mega Man-inspired music video. The critical acceptance of Supa Dupa Fly was mixed, though generally positive; many critics commented that the album tracks, some of which sampled Elliott/ Mosley hits such as "Can We" and "One in a Million", were far inferior to the singles. 1997 also saw Elliott perform on Lil Kim's girl-power anthem, a hit remix of her song, "Not Tonite". The song's remix also featured Da Brat, Angie Martinez and Left Eye, in addition to Kim and Elliott; the five women performed it live at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards show.

In 1998, Elliott continued her successful music career by writing and producing Total's single "Trippin'", as well as working with several others in the hip-hop and R&B communities. The same year, Elliott produced and contributed background vocals and some rhymes to former Spice Girl Mel B's, debut single, "I Want You Back".

Elliott's second album was just as successful as the first. Da Real World (1999, see 1999 in music) included the singles "All N My Grill," a collaboration with Nicole Wray and Big Boi (from OutKast), "Hot Boyz;" and "She's a Bitch".

Later success

Elliott next released Miss E... So Addictive in (2001, see 2001 in music). That album produced the massive pop and urban hits "One Minute Man," featuring Ludacris, Trina and Jay-Z, and "Get Ur Freak On", as well as the international club hit "4 My People" and the less commercially-sucessful single "Take Away," which featured soulful melodies from Ginuwine and a then-unknown Tweet, who was Elliott's most recent protege and labelmate at the time.

For "Get Ur Freak On", an usual remix was released to radio in addition to the original version of the song. The remix combined scat-singing from Nelly Furtado with Elliott's original rapping. The remix performed just as successfully as the original and was the version which was heard both in the Tomb Raider movie that year and on its soundtrack.

The double music video for "Take Away/4 My People" was released in the fall of 2001, shortly after the 9-11 terrorist attacks and the tragic death of Elliott's good friend Aaliyah. The "Take Away" part of the video, which was its majority, contained images of and words about Aaliyah, and the slow ballad acted as a tribute to her memory. The remainder of the video, the more upbeat "4 My People", contained scenes of people dancing happily in front of American flags and Elliott dressed in red, white and blue. Though "Take Away" flopped at radio, "4 My People" went on to become an American and European club hit due to a popular techno Basement Jaxx remix in 2002.

Tweet's appearance on Elliott's "Take Away" as well as her cameo at Elliott's house on Cribs helped to create a buzz about the new R&B singer. Tweet's own debut single, "Oops (Oh My)", was written by Elliott and released through Goldmind in February 2002. The single was a top ten hit, thanks partially to Elliott's songwriting and guest rap, and to Timbaland's unusual production on the track. Tweet and Elliott's numerous collaboations and public appearances together during this time also began to fuel media rumors that the two were having a secret lesbian tryst, one of many media rumors about Elliott that she herself would address in her subsequent work.

Elliott's fourth album, 2002's Under Construction (see 2002 in music), included the singles "Work It", arguably Elliott's biggest hit to date, and the successful duet with Ludacris, "Gossip Folks". In the latter, Elliott let her critics know what she thought of recent media rumors about her, including her amazingly rapid weight loss that had taken place during 2002 and her alleged affairs with Timbaland, Tweet, and Trina. As the "Work It" video had done during 2002, "Gossip Folks" became one of the most-played music videos on MTV, MTV2, MTV Jams, and BET in 2003. Both videos were also incredibly successful relative to other rap videos on both VH1 and VH1 Soul, which tend to play Hot AC videos and R&B videos respectively. "Gossip Folks" received significantly less attention than "Work It" at urban radio, but was embraced by the dance community, as well as the mainstream, due to a Fatboy Slim remix. The album's third single, "Pussycat", failed to make a strong impact on any chart, quickly peaking at a dismal 77 on the Hot 100 and falling off the chart even faster. Under Construction also included a track called "Back In The Day", a nostalgic ode to old school hip hop music and fashion that featured guest vocals from Jay-Z and Tweet.

In the summer of 2003, Elliott was the featured rapper on Timbaland & Magoo's long-awaited return single, "Cop That Disc"; the song was a modest hit at urban radio. Elliott's most recent singles, "Pass The Dutch" and "I'm Really Hot", from her fifth album, This Is Not A Test! (released November 2003), both rose the urban charts. However, both were massive flops at pop radio in comparison to many of her previous efforts. Also in 2003, Elliott was featured on Wyclef Jean's "Party To Damascus" and Ghostface Killah's "Tush, Tush, Tush" singles, the later of which became a minor 2004 dance hit, and had a pivotal role in the motion picture Honey, starring Jessica Alba.

Over a decade after she first began offering songwriting and production services, Missy Elliott is still as widely recognized and respected by her peers, mainstream and underground, as ever: Most recently, Elliott has provided production work, with Timbaland, to teen pop star Ciara and was a featured rapper on Ciara's second single, a Jazze Pha production, "1, 2 Step". Her sixth solo album, The Cookbook, on which Elliott promises once again to deliver unexpected sounds, is due later in 2005. Its first single, another duet with Ciara, has already begun to garner massive attention from urban radio programmers and rumors have recently abounded as to a number of likely guest stars and possible tracks that will appear on the album.



6 million albums sold in the U.S.

Singles/Music Videos

  • 1997: "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)" #16 UK
  • 1997: "Sock It 2 Me" (featuring Da Brat) #16 US, #33 UK
  • 1998: "Beep Me 911" (featuring 702 and Magoo) #14 UK
  • 1998: "Hit 'Em Wit Da Hee" [remix] (featuring Timbaland & Mocha) #25 UK
  • 1999: "She's A Bitch" #90 US
  • 1999: "All N My Grill" (featuring Nicole Wray and Big Boi of OutKast) #64 US, #20 UK
  • 2000: "Hot Boyz" [remix] (featuring Nas, Eve, and Q-Tip)*** #5 US, #18 UK
  • 2001: "Get Ur Freak On" #7 US, #4 UK
  • 2001: "Get Ur Freak On" [remix] (featuring Nelly Furtado) *
  • 2001: "One Minute Man" (featuring Ludacris and Trina) #15 US, #10 UK
  • 2001: "One Minute Man" [remix] (featuring Jay-Z) *
  • 2001: "Superfreakon" #72 UK
  • 2001: "Lick Shots"**
  • 2001: "Take Away" (featuring Ginuwine and Tweet) #45 US
  • 2002: "4 My People" (club single) ** #5 UK
  • 2002: "Work It" #2 US, #6 UK
  • 2002: "Gossip Folks" (featuring Ludacris) #8 US, #9 UK
  • 2003: "Work It" [remix] (featuring 50 Cent)
  • 2003: "Pussycat" * #77 US
  • 2003: "Pass The Dutch" #27 US, #10 UK
  • 2004: "I'm Really Hot" #59 US, #22 UK
  • 2005: "1, 2 Step" (Ciara featuring Missy Elliott) #2 US, #3 UK
  • 2005: "Lose Control" (featuring Ciara and Fatman Scoop) #21 US

(*) radio-only single; did not have a music video.

(**) "Lick Shots" had no unique music video, but a snippet of the song was included at the end of the "Get Ur Freak On" video; "4 My People" was similarly a "mini-video" at the end of the "Take Away" video.

(***) Q-Tip appears on the radio version of the “Hot Boyz” remix, but not the video version. Although she is not credited, Lil Mo sings guest leads and background vocals on the single, and appears in the video as well.

Guest appearance credits

Only included here are records Elliott did not write or produce on; singles upon which she did songwriting/production work in addition to providing guest vocals are noted below in the Selected songwriting/production credits section.

(*) radio-only single; did not have a music video.

Selected songwriting/production credits

  • 1996: ”Steelo” by 702 (also guested)
  • 1996: ”If Your Girl Only Knew” by Aaliyah
  • 1996: ”One In A Million” by Aaliyah
  • 1997: "Can We" by SWV (also guested)
  • 1997: ”I’ll Do Anything/I’m Sorry” by Ginuwine
  • 1997: ”What About Us?” by Total
  • 1998: "Trippin'" by Total (also guested)
  • 1998: "Make It Hot" by Nicole Wray (also guested)
  • 1998: "I Want You Back" by Mel B. (also guested)
  • 1999: "Heartbreaker" [So-So Def Remix] by Mariah Carey featuring Da Brat (also guested)
  • 2000: ”Take That” by Torrey Carter (also guested)
  • 2001: ”Lady Marmalade” by Mya, Pink, Christina Aguilera, and Lil Kim
  • 2001: "Bootylicious" [Rockwilder Remix] by Destiny's Child (also guested)
  • 2002: ”I Care 4 U” by Aaliyah (*)
  • 2002: "Oops! (Oh My!)" by Tweet (also guested)
  • 2003: ”So Gone” by Monica (also guested)
  • 2003: ”My Love is Like...Wo” by Mya
  • 2004: "1, 2, Step" by Ciara (also guested)

(*) Aaliyah's "I Care 4 U" was released as a single after her 2001 death, so the single had no music video. Elliott appears in all above music videos except "My Love Is Like...Wo" and "One In A Million".

External link

nl:Missy Elliott


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