Missy Elliott’s electrifying performance at MTV’s 2019 Video Music Awards rekindled the world’s obsession with the visionary rapper, songwriter, and producer. Elliott has long been hailed as the first feminist rap star, but how did this badass woman become the record-smashing icon she is today?
Elliott endures formidable struggles throughout her childhood, surviving sexual trauma and domestic abuse at the hands of her father and other family members.
Luckily, Elliott would go on to use her trauma as a base for her empowering, sex-positive lyrics. Elliott uses her lyrics to reclaim her sexuality; the title of her This Is Not A Test! hit “I’m Really Hot” says it all. In the song “Toyz” off the same album she raps, “I gotta bag full of toys / And I don’t need none of your boys.” You go girl!
At only 18 years old, Elliott forms the Timbaland-produced all-female rap group Sista with friends La’Shawn Shellman, Chonita Coleman, and Radiah Scott.
Elliott releases her solo debut album Supa Dupa Fly. The album peaked on the U.S music charts, eventually achieving platinum certification.
Despite her successful debut launch, Elliott continues to work behind the scenes as a producer, songwriter, and supporting artist for other female musicians. She created chart-busters like Destiny’s Child’s “Confessions,” Total’s “Trippin,” Whitney Houston’s “In My Business” and “Oh Yes,” and Melanie Brown’s “I Want You Back.” We love women who support women!
Elliott releases Under Construction, the best selling female rap album ever, with 2.1 million copies sold in the United States alone. The album also earns a Grammy Award nomination.
Throughout her career, the female rap superstar never conforms to male beauty standards. Missy is fat, black, and proud! Her music videos feature Elliott styled in outfits that encourage viewers to appreciate Elliott for her musical prowess, not her sexual desirability; in “Work It,” Elliott rocks baggy tracksuits, puffy jackets, and an iconic array of funky hats.
Elliott’s fifth album This Is Not A Test! goes platinum, and Elliott becomes the only female rapper to have six of her albums certified platinum.
Elliott becomes the first female hip-hop artist to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the first female rapper to receive an honorary doctorate from Berkley, and wins the VMAs’ Video Vanguard Award.