20 reasons missy elliott is supa dupa fly
Ahead of her headline Bestival set this weekend, we take a moment to reflect on the brilliance of Melissa Arnette Elliott.
It took a moment to fully appreciate Missy Elliott's utter awesomeness. Unless you were really ahead of the curve and knew her from her Sista (nee Fayze) days, the first time we saw Miss E was her guest appearance in Gina Thompson's 1996 video The Things You Do. She rolled up with the homies in a black convertible Merc, wearing what would become her signature look: a canary yellow tracksuit and hair cut into a severe side bob, bangs over the eye. Accentuated by huge hooped earrings and an even bigger grin, she was the antithesis of her predecessors Lil Kim and Foxy Brown -- Missy was, in a word, magnificent, perfect in all her imperfect glory. After Missy and Timbaland landed on Planet Hip Hop, nothing was the same again.
With six platinum albums and 30 million records sold solely as a solo artist, a canon of work that includes productions for everyone from Aaliyah to Ciara, Mel B to Mary J Blige, Elliott's impact on popular culture can't be overstated. She's one of the most feminist women in modern music -- a woman who pushed the boundaries for both herself and women of all sizes, shapes and colors. As she prepares to headline Bestival this weekend, we disseminate Missy's 24 years in the game as hip hop's irreplaceable innovator who makes everything and everyone supa dupa fly….
1. Missy has written and produced some of the greatest tracks ever, including (but not limited to)...
Not to mention everything she did with Aaliyah (RIP Baby Girl):
3. When I interviewed her in Puerto Rico in 2002, Missy lost her jewelry at the airport, meaning she was two days late for promo and we got to stay in the Four Seasons for an extra two nights. I mean, have you ever stayed at the Four Seasons?
4. When she did turn up and I finally got to interview her, she ate a bowl of M&M's. She didn't offer me any, but that's ok because Missy.
5. She's not too big or too famous to be told off by her mom. When I asked her in 2003 (Puerto Rico again, but alas, the budget didn't stretch to the Four Seasons this time) if the track Toys was about vibrators, she laughed and said yes. "I know all the females is gonna be like 'What? Oh, we got someone speaking for us right now!'" I wondered what her mom, who Missy is very close to, might make of such raunchy raps. "She called me last album [Under Construction] and was like, 'Do you have a record called Pussy Don't Fail Me Now?!' And I was like 'Oh my God, how does she know that'? The album wasn't even out, but because she handles all my stuff they gave her the title list. I was so embarrassed, I felt like a little child. You know my mother's real religious so her second question was, 'What are the church people gonna say?' and I replied 'Well, how are they gonna know? If they ask you about it, then you gotta question 'What you doing listening to it'?"
6. She looks too adorable in this early video from Sista (which features Missy and Tim's former mentor Jodeci's DeVonte Swing). The ponytail game is on fleek, as is the bit where they do a dance routine in white tracksuits with the right leg pulled up. Although Sista didn't really blow up, they did feature on the Dangerous Minds soundtrack, so that's kinda everything.
7. Shortly after the Sista video, Missy worked with then child star Raven Symone on That's What Little Girls Are Made Of. It was via this video that Missy experienced the dark side of 'the industry.' 'Dark skinned and too big boned,' Missy was replaced in the video by a model. "I didn't even know they shot the video. They told me I 'didn't quite fit the image'… I was distraught," she told VH1.
8. So she made this her debut solo video which was just a glorious F.U, sips tea side eye not-giving-a-bag-of-dicks response to the music industry.
9. Speaking of The Rain, does anyone ever understand what Missy's saying in her lyrics, and, more to the point, do we care when it sounds so damn good?
10. Because Lady Marmalade
11. Because Cribs
12. For this outfit.
13. For managing to ignore Katy Perry at the Superbowl Halftime show despite Pezza's super irritating hypewoman style interruptions.
14. For writing a song called One Minute Man about premature ejaculation
17. This video, from beginning to end, top to bottom
And this one
And one more, please sorry:
18. For all of her famous female friends; Missy was about that squad lyfe years before Swizzy, and her squad is so much better than yours…
19. But for never forgetting the people that matter i.e. the fans. If you've never been retweeted by Missy, you're not about this life.
20. Missy is hands down one of the most important figures in pop culture of the last two decades. Whether turning music tropes upside down a million times, acting as an unofficial A&R for amazing new talent, or just being really bloody brilliant, let it be known we are more than happy to go all the way to the Isle of Wight this weekend JUST to see Miss E in action. We'd really like a new album soon too, Missy. It's about time - we freaks and geeks need you.
Missy plays Bestival this weekend. If you're there, don't forget to look out for the i-D Mix secret party deep in the woods!
Text Hattie Collins
Photography Romana Pierzga