Missy Elliott Women’s T-Shirt
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HOW MISSY ELLIOTT REVOLUTIONIZED POP CULTURE & HER MUSIC LEGACY
Melissa “Missy” Arnette Elliott (born July 1, 1971) is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, and philanthropist. She embarked on her music career with all-female R&B group Sista in the early-mid 1990s and later became a member of the Swing Mob collective along with childhood friend and longtime collaborator Timbaland, with whom she worked on projects for Aaliyah, 702, Total, and SWV. Following several collaborations and guest appearances, she launched her solo career on July 15, 1997 with her debut album Supa Dupa Fly, which spawned the top 20 single “Sock It 2 Me“. The album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200, the highest charting debut for a female rapper at the time.
Elliott’s second album, Da Real World, was released on June 22, 1999 and produced the singles “She’s a Bitch“, “All n My Grill“, and top five hit “Hot Boyz.” The remix of the latter song broke the record for most weeks at number-one on the US R&B chart on the issue dated January 15, 2000; as well as spending 18 weeks at number one on the Hot Rap Singles chart, from December 4, 1999 to March 25, 2000. With the release of Miss E… So Addictive (2001), Under Construction (2002), and This Is Not a Test (2003), Elliott established an international career that yielded hits including “Get Ur Freak On,” “One Minute Man,” “4 My People,” “Gossip Folks,” and “Work It.” The latter won her a Grammy Award for Best Female Rap Solo Performance.
Elliott went on to win four Grammy Awards and sell over 30 million records in the United States. She is the best-selling female rapper in Nielsen Music history, according to Billboard in 2017. In 2019, she became the first female rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and received the MTV VMAs Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award for her impact on the music video landscape.
Missy Elliott – The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly) [Official Music Video]
1971–1988: Early life
Melissa Arnette Elliott was born on July 1, 1971, at Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia. She is the only child of mother Patricia Elliott, a power-company dispatcher, and father Ronnie, a former U.S. Marine. Elliott grew up in an active church choir family, and singing was a normal part of her youth. At the age of four, she wanted to be a performer, and, as biographer Veronica A. Davis writes, she “would sing and perform for her family”. In later years, she feared no one would take her seriously, because she was always the class clown. While her father was an active Marine, the family lived in Jacksonville, North Carolina, in a manufactured home community. Elliott blossomed during this part of her life. She enjoyed school for the friendships that she formed even though she had little interest in schoolwork. She would later get well above average marks on intelligence tests, and she was advanced two years ahead of her former class. Her move in grades caused isolation, and she purposely failed, eventually returning to her previous class. When her father returned from the Marines, they moved back to Virginia, where they lived in extreme poverty.
Life in Virginia saw many hardships. Elliott talks about domestic abuse by her father. She refused to stay over at friends homes out of fear that on her return home she would find her mother dead. When Elliott was eight, she was molested by a cousin. In one violent incident, Ronnie Elliott dislocated his wife’s shoulders and during another, Elliott herself was threatened with a gun. At the age of fourteen, Elliott’s mother decided to end the situation and fled with her daughter on the pretext of taking a joyride on a local bus. In reality, the pair had found refuge at a family member’s home where their possessions were stored in a loaded U-Haul truck. Elliott tells her that she feared her father would kill them both for leaving.
She later stated, “When we left, my mother realized how strong she was on her own, and it made me strong. It took her leaving her home to be able to realize that.”
1991–1995: Sista and career beginnings
In 1991, Elliott formed an all female R&B group, called Fayze (later renamed Sista), with friends La’Shawn Shellman, Chonita Coleman, and Radiah Scott. She recruited her neighborhood friend Timothy Mosley (Timbaland) as the group’s producer and began making demo tracks, among them included the 1991 promo “First Move”. Later in 1991, Fayze caught the attention of Jodeci member and producer DeVante Swing by performing Jodeci songs a cappella for him backstage after one of his group’s concerts. In short order, Fayze moved to New York City and signed to Elektra Records through DeVante’s Swing Mob imprint and also renaming the group Sista. Sista’s debut song was titled “Brand New”, which was released in 1993 Elliott took Mosley—whom DeVante re-christened Timbaland—and their friend Melvin “Magoo” Barcliff along with her.
All 20-plus members of the Swing Mob—among them future stars such as Ginuwine, Playa, and Tweet—lived in a single two-story house in New York and were often at work on material both for Jodeci and their own projects. While Elliott wrote and rapped on Raven-Symoné‘s 1993 debut single, “That’s What Little Girls Are Made Of“, she also contributed, credited and uncredited, to the Jodeci albums Diary of a Mad Band (1993) and The Show, the After Party, the Hotel (1995). Timbaland and DeVante jointly produced a Sista album, entitled 4 All the Sistas Around da World (1994). Elliott met R&B artist Mary J. Blige while Blige was in sessions for her second album My Life. Though videos were released for the original and remix versions of the single “Brand New”, the album was shelved and never released. One of the group’s tracks, “It’s Alright” featuring Craig Mack did however make the cut on the soundtrack of the 1995 motion picture Dangerous Minds but by the end of 1995, Swing Mob had folded and many of its members dispersed. Elliott, Timbaland, Magoo, Ginuwine, and Playa remained together and collaborated on each other’s records for the rest of the decade as the musical collective The Superfriends.
1996–1998: Supa Dupa Fly
After leaving Swing Mob, Elliott and Timbaland worked together as a songwriting/production team, crafting tracks for acts including SWV, 702, and most notable Aaliyah. The pair 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 contributed background vocals and/or guest raps to nearly all of the tracks on which she and Timbaland worked. 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 death in 2001. Elliott also wrote the bulk of Total‘s second and final album Kima, Keisha, and Pam and Nicole Wray‘s debut Make It Hot (both released in 1998). Elliott began her career as a featured vocalist rapping on Sean “Puffy” Combs‘s Bad Boy remixes to Gina Thompson‘s “The Things That You Do“, (which had a video featuring cameo appearances by Notorious B.I.G and Puff Daddy), MC Lyte‘s 1996 hit single “Cold Rock a Party” (backup vocals by Gina Thompson), and New Edition‘s 1996 single “You Don’t Have to Worry“. In 1996, Elliott also appeared on the Men of Vizion’s remix of “Do Thangz” which was produced by Rodney Jerkins (coincidentally the producer of the original version of “The Things That You Do“).
Combs had hoped to sign Elliott to his Bad Boy record label. Instead, she signed a deal in 1996 to create her own imprint, The Goldmind Inc., with East West Records, which at that time was a division of Elektra Entertainment Group, for which she would record as a solo artist. Timbaland was again recruited as her production partner, a role he would hold on most of Elliott’s solo releases. Missy continued to work with other artists and appeared on LSG‘s song “All the Time” with Gerald Levert, Keith Sweat, Johnny Gill, Faith Evans, and Coko in 1997 on Levert Sweat Gill classic album. The same year, she rapped in “Keys To My House” with old friends group LeVert. In the center of a busy period of making guest appearances and writing for other artists, Elliott’s debut album, Supa Dupa Fly, was released in mid-1997; the success of its lead single “The Rain” led the album to be certified platinum.
The success was also a result of the music videos of her single releases, which were directed by Harold “Hype” Williams, who created many groundbreaking hip hop, Afro-futuristic videos at the time. The album was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 1998 Grammy Awards, but lost to Puff Daddy‘s No Way Out. The year also saw Elliott perform live at the MTV Video Music Awards show on a remix to Lil’ Kim‘s “Ladies Night” with fellow rappers Da Brat, Angie Martinez and TLC-rapper Left Eye. Elliott continued her successful career in the background as a producer and writer on Total‘s single “Trippin'”, as well as working with several others in the hip-hop and R&B communities. Elliott co-wrote and co-produced two tracks on Whitney Houston‘s 1998 album My Love Is Your Love, providing vocal cameos for “In My Business” and “Oh Yes”. Elliott also produced and made a guest appearance on Spice Girl Melanie Brown‘s debut solo single, “I Want You Back”, which topped the UK Singles Chart.
1999–2001: Da Real World and Miss E… So Addictive
Although a much darker album than her debut, Elliott’s second album was just as successful as the first, selling 1.5 million copies and 3 million copies worldwide. She remarked, “I can’t even explain the pressure. The last album took me a week to record. This one took almost two months…I couldn’t rush it the second time because people expect more.” Da Real World (1999) included the singles “All n My Grill“, a collaboration with Nicole Wray and Big Boi (from OutKast), a remix to “Hot Boyz” and “She’s a Bitch“. Also in 1999, Elliott was featured, alongside Da Brat, on the official remix to a Mariah Carey single “Heartbreaker“.
Missy Elliott next released Miss E… So Addictive on May 15, 2001. The album spawned the massive pop and urban hits “One Minute Man“, featuring Ludacris and Trina, and “Get Ur Freak On“, as well as the international club hit “4 My People” and the less commercially successful single “Take Away“. 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 death of Elliott’s friend Aaliyah in August. The “Take Away” video contained images of and words about Aaliyah, and the slow ballad acted as a tribute to her memory. The remainder of the video was 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” was not a success on radio, “4 My People” went on to become an American and European club hit due to a popular remix by house music duo Basement Jaxx in 2002.
Tweet‘s appearance on Elliott’s “Take Away” as well as her cameo at Elliott’s house on MTV Cribs helped to create a buzz about the new R&B singer. Tweet’s own debut single, “Oops (Oh My)”, was co-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. Elliott co-produced the Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mýa and Pink cover of “Lady Marmalade” for the album Moulin Rouge! Music from Baz Luhrmann’s Film, which went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2001.
Missy Elliott – Get Ur Freak On [Official Music Video]
Missy Elliott – Hot Boyz [Official Music Video]
Missy Elliott – She’s A B**ch [Official Music Video]
Missy Elliott – Lose Control (feat. Ciara & Fat Man Scoop) [Official Music Video]
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