Missy Elliott (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Melissa Arnette "Missy" Elliott (born July 1, 1971) is an American rapper, singer-songwriter, record producer, dancer and actress. A five-time Grammy Award-winner, Elliott, with record sales of over 30 million in the United States, is the only female rapper to have six albums certified platinum by the RIAA, including one double platinum for her 2002 album Under Construction. Elliott is known for a series of hits and diverse music videos, including "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)", "Hot Boyz", "Get Ur Freak On", "One Minute Man", "4 My People", "Work It", "Pass That Dutch", and "Lose Control." In addition, she has worked extensively as a songwriter and producer for other artists, both alone and with her fellow producer and childhood friend Timbaland, with whom she received her first production credit on R&B singer Ginuwine's 1996's album Ginuwine...the Bachelor.
Elliott was born on July 1, 1971, in Portsmouth, Virginia. She is the only child of mother Patricia, a power-company coordinator, and father Ronnie, a U.S. Marine. At the age of four in 1975, she wanted to be a performer, though she knew no one took her seriously, as she was always the class clown. While her father was a Marine, the family lived in Jacksonville, North Carolina, in a mobile home. Elliott enjoyed school for the friendships she formed and had little interest in school work, though an IQ test classified her above average and she was able to jump two years ahead of her class. This made her feel increasingly isolated, so she purposely failed all her classes, eventually returning to her age-appropriate class. When her father returned from the Marines, they moved back to Virginia, where they lived in a vermin-infested shack.
Elliott's childhood was strongly affected by domestic abuse. Elliott's family was strongly affected by her father's anger. Elliott refused to stay over at any of her friends' homes for the fear that she would return and find her mother dead. When Elliott was fourteen, she and her mother finally escaped from her father. Her mother told her to pack her things and go to the bus stop as usual. When her father drove past her on his way to work, her mother picked Elliott up and took her home to where family relatives were loading the family possessions into a U-Haul truck, leaving her father with only a fork, a spoon, a cup and a blanket. Elliott and her father occasionally talk, but she claims she hasn't forgiven him. 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 to realize."
1991-95 Career beginnings
In the early 1990s, Elliott formed an 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 as the group's producer and began making demo tracks, among them included the promo "First Move". 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, also renaming the group Sista. 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 songwriting duties, credited and uncredited, to the final two 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 and completed in 1994. 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.
1996-98: Record deal and Supa Dupa Fly
After leaving Swing Mob, Elliott and Timbaland worked together as a songwriting/production team, crafting tracks for acts including SWV and 702, but the most notable of them was 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 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 single "Cold Rock a Party" (backup vocals by Gina Thompson), and New Edition's 1996 single "You Don't Have to Worry." Combs had hoped to sign Elliott to his Bad Boy record label. Also that year Elliott 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").
She instead signed a deal with East West Records, a division of Elektra Entertainment Group at that time, in 1996 to create her own imprint, The Goldmind Inc., 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 also appeared in 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 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 had been directed by Harold "Hype" Williams, who created many groundbreaking hip hop videos at the time. The album was also 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.
In 1998, 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". The same year, 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 in 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 good 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 Moulin Rouge! Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film album, which went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2001.
2002-04 Under Construction and This Is Not a Test!
For her next outing, Elliott and Timbaland focused on an old school sound, utilizing many old school rap and funk samples, such as Run-D.M.C.'s "Peter Piper" and Frankie Smith's "Double Dutch Bus" (in "Work It" and "Gossip Folks", respectively). Elliott's fourth album, 2002's Under Construction (see 2002 in music), included the aforementioned singles "Work It", Elliott's second biggest hit to date, and the successful duet with Ludacris, "Gossip Folks". 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. It 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. Although not released as single and with no video, "Pussycat", peaked at number 77 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album is known as the best selling female rap album ever with 2.1 million copies sold in the United States. In 2003, Under Construction received Grammy nominations for Best Rap Album and Album of the Year.
The New York Times called Under Construction "this year's best hip-hop album."
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. A video was shot and an article on MTV.com was posted, but the video was never released. Additionally, Missy was also set to release the sexual-themed, "P***ycat", as the album's final single with a remixed version featuring Janet Jackson, however due to undisclosed reasons it never happened; by late 2003, a mixtape remix featuring Rah Digga was released instead.
Early 2003, Elliott produced the "American Dream Remix" (featuring Tweet's additional vocals) of Madonna's single "American Life". In the summer of 2003, Elliott was the featured rapper on Timbaland & Magoo's long-awaited return single, "Cop That Shit"; the song was a modest hit at urban radio.
Elliott produced "Fighting Temptation" (featuring herself, Beyoncé, Free and MC Lyte) for the soundtrack to the Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Beyoncé Knowles movie of the same name. The track reached #1 in Japan but failed to chart in the U.S. Hot 100.
A year after Elliott's most successful album to date was released, Elliott felt pressured by her label to release another album, hoping to capitalize on her recent success. Elliott's singles, "Pass That 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 not as successful at pop radio in comparison to many of her previous efforts. Elliott has since stated "This Is Not A Test! came out extremely too quickly for me. I didn't want it to come out when it did."
Also in 2003, Elliott was featured on Wyclef Jean's "Party to Damascus" and Ghostface Killah's "Tush" singles, the latter of which became a minor 2004 dance hit, and had a pivotal role in the film Honey. Gap approached Elliott later in the year to co-star in a commercial with Madonna, which received much media attention. Elliott furthered her relationship with Madonna by performing the controversial 2003 MTV Video Music Awards show opening alongside Madonna, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. In the same year she also produced a remix for Madonna's hit single American Life
In 2004, Elliott was featured on Ciara's hit single "1, 2 Step", with her verse interpolating Teena Marie's single, "Square Biz".
Elliott premiered her own reality show on the UPN Network, The Road to Stardom with Missy Elliott in 2005. Although the series never made impressive ratings, it did maintain a solid audience. The winner, Jessica Betts, has yet to release an album or single, which was the prize of the show.
This Is Not A Test sold 143,600 in its first week of being released and sold 690,000 copies in the United States and has been certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
2005-06: The Cookbook and Respect M.E.
Following her less than usual sales from her previous album, Elliott wanted to "give people the unexpected" by utilizing producers other than Timbaland and a "more to the center" sound not as far left as her other music. Her sixth solo album, The Cookbook was released in July 2005 and debuted at number two on the U.S. charts. Its first single, "Lose Control", which featured Ciara and Fatman Scoop, became a Top 5 hit in the early summer (peaking at number three on the Billboard Hot 100), and the other album tracks featured guest appearances from Mike Jones, Fantasia, M.I.A., Slick Rick, Mary J. Blige, and Pharrell. The video for "Lose Control" garnered Elliott six 2005 MTV VMA award nominations, ultimately winning two awards in the categories Best Dance Video and Best Hip-Hop Video in August 2005. After the VMA's, Elliott released "Teary Eyed" which charted lowly, although the video charted on MTV's TRL for a few weeks, and BET's 106 & Park for a few days. "Teary Eyed" is one of the few tracks that showcases Elliott's singing.
In early September, Elliott tore her Achilles tendon while shooting the music video for her song "We Run This", requiring surgery and a long recovery, thus dampening promotion efforts for The Cookbook. In November 2005, Elliott won Best Female Hip Hop Artist at the 2005 American Music Awards, defeating colleagues Lil' Kim and Trina. Also in November, Elliott's remixed version of Ashlee Simpson's "L.O.V.E." (from her second album, I Am Me) was included on the CD single.
In December 2005, Elliott was nominated for five Grammy Awards, including two for "Lose Control" (Best Short Form Video, which she won and Best Rap Song), one for The Cookbook (Best Rap Album), one for writing Fantasia's "Free Yourself" (Best R&B Song), and one for "1, 2 Step" with Ciara (Best Rap/Sung Collaboration). Elliott was also nominated for Best International Female Artist at the 2006 BRIT Awards.
In early 2006, Elliott's single and video for "We Run This" was released with heavy airplay on VH1, MTV, and BET. It served as the lead single for the soundtrack to the gymnastics-themed film Stick It.
Missy Elliott was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Rap Solo Performance category for "We Run This".
The Cookbook received overall favorable reviews from critics and peaked at number two on the Billboard 200. It was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, (RIAA), selling 645,000 copies in the United States and received a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album.
Respect M.E., Elliott's first greatest hits album, was released outside the United States and Canada on September 4, 2006, only in South Africa, Australia, Europe, Japan, and Brazil. The collection became her second top ten album in the UK and her highest charting album to date, peaking at number seven there. According to the BPI, it has been certified Gold for sales of over 100,000 units in the UK and 500,000 copies world wide. In 2007, the album became available in Best Buy stores in the US.
The album cover shows Missy Elliott riding a Friesian horse with a dark, cloudy background. The M.E. can be understood as either the word 'me' or could be referring to Missy Elliott. "Respect M.E." is also the name of her clothing line produced by Adidas. "Take Away" did not make the album cut but was replaced with the more successful Basement Jaxx dance remix of "4 My People".
Elliott was an honoree of the 2007 VH1 Hip Hop Honors. In honor of her career, many artists performed some of her biggest hits. Timbaland and Tweet performed "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)", Eve and Keyshia Cole performed "Hot Boyz" and "Work It", Fatman Scoop and Ciara performed "Lose Control", and Nelly Furtado performed "Get Ur Freak On (The Remix)." The show aired October 8, 2007.
2007-present: Block Party and recent activities
Production for Missy Elliott's upcoming seventh studio album (tentatively titled Block Party), dates back to mid-2007, where rumors previously insisted that the album would be titled The Countdown, featuring less involvement of Timbaland and boasting more production from the likes of Swizz Beatz, Danja, T-Pain and DJ Toomp, however Elliott shot down the rumors and confirmed the title was false and that Timbaland would play a big role in the project. By late 2007, Elliott was featured in the Doritos Collisions ad campaign to help create buzz for the album. During the recording sessions, Elliott was in talks of recording with Amy Winehouse for the album.
In January 2008, "Ching-a-Ling" was released as the lead single for the Step Up 2: The Streets soundtrack. "Shake Your Pom Pom", produced by Timbaland, is also on the soundtrack. Both songs were at first in consideration to be included on the album, however in 2011, Elliott revealed the songs would not be featured. Following the release of the soundtrack singles, Elliott hosted a contest via her official website where she gave fans the opportunity to name the album; however by summer 2008, Elliott abandoned the contest and named the album, FANonmenal, to dedicate it to "the fans that have stuck with Missy since day one". Following the announcement, Elliott had plans to release the now-leaked, "Act a Fool" as the lead single, however plans were quickly scrapped and "Best, Best" was chosen in its place. "Best, Best" followed. Plans for its music video and as the album's first single never materialized with it only making a one-week appearance at #94 on the US's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart with silent reaction elsewhere.
In an interview with Elle Magazine in June 2009, Elliott renamed the album to Block Party and announced an Autumn 2009 release, but was later pushed back a fourth time to 2010. She revealed that "there are a lot of great collaborations on the record, but I can only give one away right now, and that's Lil Wayne." Elliott later added that Block Party would also feature main production from Timbaland. Missy Elliott hinted to Billboard.com that "this album is probably more musical and melodic than my previous ones. A lot of my albums are really hip-hop-driven, with tinges of other music genres. But this album is hip-hop, with a sort of U.K. hip-hop sound to it." When asked why she chose the title "Block Party", she replied that "because there are a lot of dance joints on there. It's one of those albums you can play out in the streets." In 2009, R&B singers, Keyshia Cole and Monica, confirmed Missy was producing their albums; Missy produced Monica's Still Standing, however her production for Keyshia Cole's Calling All Hearts, was never released.
In the summer of 2010, Elliott embarked on a 2 part tour which included such continents as Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. She would later announce that the lead single from Block Party would be called "Blow Ya Whistle". On June 7, 2010, Missy performed at VH1's "Hip Hop Honors: The Dirty South" to do a tribute to long-time collaborator and friend Timbaland. Her performance included the hits "Get Ur Freak On" and "Work It", both produced by Timbaland.
On August 8, 2011 a remix of Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" featuring Missy was released, due to Missy's remix of the song, "T.G.I.F." went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. In the latter era of 2011, Missy produced Monica's lead single "Anything (To Find You)" and "Until It's Gone" for her 2012 album New Life; she was also featured on Demi Lovato's song "All Night Long" produced and featuring Timbaland, on her album Unbroken, and on J. Cole's song "Nobody's Perfect" from his debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story. In January 2012, news surfaced that "Nobody's Perfect" would be the third single from J. Cole's debut album. The video was shot and released on March 2012 making it Missy's first video appearance since 2010. Missy Elliott also appeared on the remix of Busta Rhymes "Why Stop Now" which also featured Chris Brown and Lil Wayne.
In March 2012, Timbaland premiered two snippets at SXSW from Missy's upcoming seventh album. The two snippets included "Triple Threat" and an unknown track nicknamed "School Bell Ring", which is rumored to appear on Timbaland's fourth solo album, Shock Value III. On September 18, 2012, Missy released two new singles ("9th Inning" and "Triple Threat") exclusively to iTunes. On January 1, 2013, Missy's longtime collaborator, Timbaland, released a new track titled "The Party Anthem" featuring Missy alongside T-Pain and Lil Wayne.
It has been recently confirmed that Missy Elliott will be featured on Beyoncé's upcoming fifth studio album. In other recent activities, Elliott has contributed guest vocals to Sharaya J's latest single, "BANJI", alongside collaborations with Fantasia ("Without Me") and Eve ("Wanna Be"). Elliott has also scored British pop group Little Mix their first top five Hungarian hit with the single "How Ya Doin'?". While it was previously announced in January 2013, Elliott confirmed she had recorded two tracks ("Chugalug," "NiLiria") with K-pop musician G-Dragon for his second solo album, Coup D'Etat. On June 25, 2013, G-Dragon's label YG Entertainment confirmed Elliott will be part of the album.
On August 6, 2013, R&B singer Faith Evans revealed that Missy would be featured on her sixth studio album, tentatively titled Incomparable. Later in the month, Elliott would be added to the KCON 2013, performing the G-Dragon collaboration, "NiLiria."
On September 11, 2013, Elliott directed her protégée Sharaya J's latest music video, "Smash Up the Place"/"Snatch Yo Wigs," which became Elliott's first directing since "Ching-a-Ling".
In 2005, it was announced that there are plans to make a biographical film about the life story of Elliott and is to be shown in theaters. Producers include Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, and the film is being written and directed by Diane Houston. In mid-June 2007, Elliott said she was still working on the script with Diane Houston in order "to come up with the right stuff 'cause I don"t want it to be watered down. I want it to be raw and uncut the way my life was" Initially, it seemed Timbaland wouldn't be a part of the movie. When Missy asked him, he refused, citing he felt it dramatized his character; "the movie is about her life, her story, that goes deeper than putting me into the movie". However, Timbaland has since stated that he would reconsider if she could get others, including Ginuwine & Magoo to sign on.
Elliott has also said that she wants to start a family, but is afraid of giving birth. She states, "I don't know if I can take that kind of pain [of labor]. Maybe in the year 2020 you could just pop a baby out and it'd be fine. But right now I'd rather just adopt."
In June 2011, Elliott told People magazine that her absence from the music industry was due to a hyperthyroid disorder known as Graves' disease. She experienced severe symptoms from the condition, and explained that she could not even hold a pen up to write songs. After treatment, her symptoms stabilized and she has announced that she would like to get back to her career.
In 2002, Elliott wrote a letter on behalf of PETA to the mayor of Portsmouth, Virginia, asking that all shelter animals be neutered/spayed before being adopted.
For the reality show The Road to Stardom, there was a contest for viewers to create a public service ad for the Break the Cycle fund. In 2004, she joined forces with MAC Cosmetics to promote their "Viva Glam" campaign. In addition to the ad campaign, Elliott promoted the MAC Viva Glam V lipstick from which 100% of the sale goes to the MAC AIDS Fund.
In 2007, Elliott appeared on an ABC's Extreme Makeover and awarded four scholarships for a weight loss program to four underprivileged teens.