It may have taken longer than deserved, but R&B artist / rapper extraordinaire Missy Elliott finally received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this week. It's an incredible honor, but Live365 knows she doesn't need a sidewalk star to prove her worth. Good ol' Missy "Misdemeanor" has been shining bright in the hip-hop scene ever since she launched her solo career in the late 90's. Her music undoubtedly helped define the early 2000's.
Born Melissa Arnette Elliott, Missy started her music career with R&B girl group Sista in the early 90s, later becoming a member of the Swing Mob collective alongside childhood friend (and frequent collaborator) Timbaland. She had several guest appearances, solos, and other credits on projects for American R&B acts like Aaliyah, 702, Total, and SWV. Finally, she decided to focus on her own success. The decision led to six critically acclaimed studio albums, four Grammy Awards, and over 30 million records sold.
Missy Elliott is a trailblazer - not just for women in the hip-hop world, but for the entire rap game as a whole. Through it all, she's always remained authentically herself. To celebrate Missy's genius, we're counting down our Top 10 favorite Missy Elliott songs! We hope you get your freak on and work it with our picks!
10. "Hot Boyz (feat. Nas, Eve & Lil Mo)"
Dramatic, sultry, yet never too searing to blow its own wad, "Hot Boyz" is an underrated and often overlooked track in Elliott's discography. It's the third single and sixth track from Da Real World, and is all about Missy chasing the seemingly unobtainable: a rich man with a nice car and sex appeal.
Timbaland's producing really shines on this track. Between the chopped and screwed melody unafraid to take pauses and a clicky rhythm, it's the epitome of cool. Add in Nas, Eve and Q-Tip, and the song became a smash hit. The remix of "Hot Boyz" broke the record for most weeks at #1 on the US R&B chart on January 15, 2000 and peaked at #5 on the U.S. Hot 100. It also spent 18 weeks at #1 on the Hot Rap Singles from December 4, 1999 to March 25, 2000: a record not broken until Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" dominated the charts in 2019.
9. "4 My People (feat. Eve)"
One of the several party anthems "Misdemeanor" is known for. "4 My People" was released as part of Missy's 2002 classic Miss E...So Addictive and features a booming, glitchy beat that's hard not to bob your head to. During this song's release, it was difficult to believe that U.S. hip-hop stars were accepting four-to-the-floor beats. Missy did it with pride and masterful execution.
"4 My People" managed to peak at #2 in Holland and #5 in the U.K. This was possible due to its heavy airplay of the Basement Jaxx remix. It was also Missy Elliott’s second highest-charting single hit in the United Kingdom.
8. "Beep Me 911" (feat. 702 and Magoo)
Missy is known for her tough, rockin' character, but this funky R&B song shows a more vulnerable side of her. "Beep Me 911" is all about Missy addressing a cheating lover. She asks him to beep her 911 if he decides to act disloyal towards her again: that way she can prepare for a breakup if necessary.
"Beep Me 911" is the fifth track and third single of Elliott’s 1997 debut Supa Dupa Fly. Co-written and produced by Timbaland, the song features vocals from R&B trio 702 and rapper Magoo. It's hard to believe this amazing futuristic beat, as well as all the other songs on Supa Dupa Fly, were devised by Missy and Timbaland in under two weeks.
7. "One Minute Man (feat. Ludacris)"
Oh, Missy...throwing in a sharp sexual innuendo that's both hilarious and badass at the same time. Besides the hot lyrics, we love "One Minute Man" for its delicious R&B-infused beat, Missy trading her usual rap role for a singer's hat, and the awesome choreography in the music video.
This track was released for Miss E… So Addictive in 2001 as Missy's second single featuring Ludacris. It peaked at #15 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and at #10 in the United Kingdom, thus becoming Missy’s second consecutive track to feature in the top 10. A fun fact: that heavy guitar is actually a sample of the 70s song “Greyhound Mary” by David Pomeranz.
6. "Gossip Folks (feat. Ludacris)"
Before Missy Elliott fan and collaborator Lizzo hit the world with her song "Rumors," this bop about gossip and catty chit-chat reigned on top. "Gossip Folks" takes a stab at the critics who comment on Missy's weight and sexuality. It also has an amazingly choreographed video that launched the career of actress Alyson Stoner and features the iconic phrase, "I will not gossip with Missy in class," on school chalkboards.
“Gossip Folks” is the second single from Under Construction. And unsurprisingly, it became a major success. It reached the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 and the U.K. charts. Additionally, the refrain samples “Double Dutch Bus” by Frankie Smith.
5. "Bomb Intro / Pass That Dutch"
"And evil takes a human form in Regina George."
Yes, we know Mean Girls is partly to blame for the massive success of this classic track, but seriously..."Bomb Intro / Pass That Dutch" is such a feast for the ears it's no surprise Tina Fey chose this song to adorn her hit comedy film.
The gym class whistles, the thumping bass, the 5 seconds to catch your breath...even that "unknown virus" bit surprisingly fitting for the COVID-19 era all help to make "Bomb Intro / Pass That Dutch" timeless. The modern twerking dance craze is even given a nod with the line "pop that, pop that, jiggle that fat." This jam was the leading single for Missy's 2003 album This Is Not A Test! and quickly became an international success.
As for that "hootie hoo" line in the beginning, it's possibly a reference to the hook of OutKast’s 1998 track, "Slump." When you hear it, run for cover!
4. "Lose Control"
Another Missy song about going wild on the dance floor, "Lose Control" was a chart smash - making it to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and the top 10 in 4 other countries. The winding notes and clapping beat are almost hypnotic. It's not a real party without this song in the playlist!
Missy actually produced this track's crazy beat herself. It samples Hot Streak’s “Body Work” and Cybotron’s "Clear" while featuring Ciara, who was fresh off the hype from her hit album Goodies. And of course, Fatman Scoop does a great job as the hype man.
The music video for this track earned Missy one of her four Grammys in 2006. In it, a bunch of dancers engage in impressive dance moves throughout various settings, with Missy displaying cutting edge technology for the era.
3. "Work It"
Rapping in reverse, elephant trumpeting, and the word "badonkadonk" have never sounded cooler than in "Work It": Missy's hit song from Under Construction.
This bop - which samples Rock Master Scott & The Dynamic Three's 1984 song “Request Line” - was the first single from Elliott's 2002 record and was hailed as both a commercial and critical hit. Besides gifting her a Grammy for Best Female Rap Solo Performance, it peaked at #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 (making it Missy’s biggest hit of all time) and was named the best single of 2002 in The Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop poll.
"Work It" is a wonderfully raunchy ode where Missy spits bars about sexing up guys. Music critic John Bush said this song, “turns the tables on male rappers, taking charge of the sex game, matching their lewdest, rudest rhymes.”
Digging deeper into the iconic reversed bit, Missy would later reveal it was actually a happy accident that made it into the song's final cut. “The engineer happened to hit something, and it just went backward, and I was like, ‘Oh that’s kind of crazy’ because it went backward on the beat,” she explained. "So, after that happened, I said, ‘Yo, keep that in there and I’m going to write around it.’"
2. "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)"
Just when you think Ann Peeble's "I Can't Stand the Rain" can't get any better, Missy Elliott spices it up...by rapping in a trash bag balloon costume.
There's a lot to unpack when discussing "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)," but we'll try our best to be thorough. This was Missy Elliott's first. Ever. Single. Which is absolutely crazy to think about, considering how much thought and effort is put into her lyrics, Timbaland's chill music production, and the now-iconic music video.
Besides making Missy sound like a boss, the lyrics to "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)" also reference the 1972 Blaxploitation film Superfly, Timbaland, Missy's collaborative efforts with SWV, her marijuana consumption, and fellow lady rapper Lauryn Hill. The music video featured Timbaland and was the first partnership between Missy and longtime director Hype Williams (who was eventually replaced by Dave Meyers).
As for that famous trash bag costume, it's actually meant to be a giant middle finger to all the music execs who told Missy she couldn't make it in the music business because of her size. Missy's strategy of playing up a hardship truly paid off in the end.
1. "Get Ur Freak On"
As proven by how many famous audience members danced to this song during Missy's performance at the 2019 VMAs, this hit dangerously makes any listener get their freak on. It's like magic.
Pitchfork said it best when they ranked this Miss E...So Addictive track the 7th greatest song of the 2000's, claiming, "'Get Ur Freak On' still sounds like an audaciously leftfield stroke of genius, a song that succeeded wildly in its goal to push futurism, global style, and flat-out hyper-manic absurdity to equally lofty heights. Timbaland’s flair for the accessibly exotic reached its peak here with his bhangra-meets-jungle beat and 50s B-movie sci-fi synths, replacing the stagger-step trap breaks of drum'n'bass with a burbling tabla and subsequently creating a uniquely slippery dance track that bumps hard without a single kick drum."
As for other accolades, "Get Ur Freak On" earned Missy a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance. In a long list of men, Missy and Queen Latifah are the only two female rappers to receive the prestigious award. "Get Ur Freak On" peaked at #3 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and #7 on Billboard’s Hot Rap Songs and the Billboard Hot 100. It also peaked at #4 in the UK, and on July 11, 2016, "Get Ur Freak On" officially went RIAA Platinum.
We leave you with this final fun fact: the Japanese sentence in the beginning can be translated to, "From here on, everybody’s gonna be dancing a little f---ed up…make some noise, make some noise!" The person who said it was actually a humble Japanese janitor in the studio Missy was recording in. Not only was he absolutely right about the state of peoples' bodies when listening to this song, but Missy's willingness to include him in her biggest hit shows how much she cares about the things she's helped create in the biz: fairness, equality, diversity, and authenticity.
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