Missy didn’t create the term, but she made it hers—and basically introduced it to mainstream America—in her huge hit, Work It. After an extremely laid back debut album—one of the best rap debuts of all time, I’d say—Missy Elliott released an underwhelming sophomore record and then an interesting exploration into technoShe made eye-popping videos the likes of which we hadn’t seen since the promotion of Peter Gabriel’s “So” album that were wild, weird, hilarious and unique, and then she came out with a record whose title seemed to indicate the changes in her personality: Under Construction. Because Missy never seemed to stay the same for more than one album.
The driving single, Work It, not only put Missy on the map but it made Timbaland one of the most sought-out producers of the early 2000s. Its backward chorus made new use of the rising chopped and screwed style, and it’s use of sound—not just musically but in Elliott’s powerful rhyming style and use of made-up words—elevated it beyond anything anyone else was doing at the time. Remember, this was before Kanye West started doing this all the time.
And rather than make a “radio friendly” version, Missy simply made up nonsense words and even used an elephant’s cry instead of the “dirty” parts of the song.
Who says women can’t rap?
Further listening: I’m a huge fan of her debut, Supa Dupa Fly. Some of her other songs that deserve GOAT consideration are: The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly), Get UR Freak On, Beep Me 911.
Covers: Not a lot of good ones, but here’s a couple.