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watch missy elliott's surreal new music video, and a trailer for her new doc

The Virginia visionary releases an underwater dance video, and the trailer for a new documentary. Press play on the super trippy “I’m Better,” then watch Pharrell and Busta Rhymes sound off about Missy’s boundary-breaking creativity.

by Emily Manning
|
Jan 27 2017, 6:00pm

Strobe lights, exercise balls, synchronized swimmers, creepy Kanye contact lenses, Spring Breakers-style ski masks, snow-white wigs, lasers, flashing face shields, hypnotizing and aggressive choreography: would you expect anything less from a Missy Elliott video? Since releasing her debut solo offering — the iconic Hype Williams-helmed "The Rain" — 20 years ago, the Virginia rapper, producer, and songwriter has created some of hip-hop's most off-the-wall visuals ever. Her latest effort, for the Lamb-featuring heater "I'm Better," is no different.

Like all of Missy's most epic videos "I'm Better" features elaborate, futuristic, and somewhat dystopian sets. Many of these little worlds incorporate super-trippy lighting elements, recalling one of Missy's most ambitious productions, 2001's "She's a Bitch," which Williams also captained. "I'm Better" brings the party underwater, where Elliott's army performs her requisite top-notch choreography atop exercise balls. Elliott, of course, is dressed to the nines. That feather collar situation recalls her recent eerie Marc Jacobs campaign. She shouts out André 3000 in "I'm Better's" lyrics, but perhaps also lifts inspiration from the Outkast odd-father's own game-changing, gender-bending looks in the video. The white wigs her dancers wear recall André's preferred hairstyle of 2014. From sets to styles to intricate moves, the video is what Missy's countless fans crave.

Yet the track itself is a something of switch-up. Missy's production has featured everything from full, funked-up horns (pretty much everything on 2005's The Cookbook, but especially the euphoric "We Run This") to sample-flipped synths ("Work It!"). Yet "I'm Better" is markedly minimal, anchored by sinister-sounding keys. No matter how long Missy has ruled the game, she's still as bold, daring, and innovative as ever — unafraid to putting her own spins on the sounds of now, and broaden it to new places.

Which is precisely what the documentary trailer Elliott dropped just an hour before the music video seeks to explore. The trailer teases interviews with Busta Rhymes and fellow Virginia iconoclast Pharrell, who discuss first hearing her completely unique sound, and the development of her "creative genius." It's also packed with behind-the-scenes clips of Elliott in the booth and on the set of her explosive "WTF" video. "She cracked the code for females in the business," one interviewee explains, "and then she broke the mold, because there's never been another Missy Elliott."

While "I'm Better" is available to view and stream now, we're going to have to wait a little longer for Elliott's documentary. No firm date is set, but the trailer promises it'll be released some time this year. 

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Text Emily Manning

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