Missy Elliott changes the narrative for women in Hip Hop by becoming a renaissance woman
African-American minorities have conquered a multitude of obstacles in life. Sometimes, the only obstacle we face is ourselves. We all can be our own worst enemy at times. More specifically, African American minorities often compete against each other instead of assisting one another. This concept of treating your neighbor like your opponent rather than an ally is usually counterproductive.
The entertainment arena is the highest level of competition for Black people. Being outnumbered in the business seems to make spaces limited at the round table. Everyone is striving to get their piece of the pie, and when some get it they choose not to share. This energy is infectious, as this behavior is even displayed within the community outside of entertainment.
Today we live in a microwave society where everything is quickly produced, consumed, and disposed of. This leaves the fans demanding more content from musicians. While the demand is high in the market, the moral support among musicians seems low. The lack of homage being paid in among musicians contributes to them slowly fading away.
This also creates an environment where some worthy individuals are not acknowledged or appreciated and others are labeled washed up. Missy Elliott is one particularly extraordinary entertainer who we must not allow to fade the black. She has actually spoken on the lack of passion in music and how today’s legends are not always respected. The gag is, Missy has been leaving a very impressive mark on the culture of music for the last 30 years.
Some people are ahead of their time
Missy Misdemeanor Elliott was introduced to the world as Melissa Arnette Elliott in July of 1971. She grew up as an only child who loved performing for her family in Portsmouth, Virginia. As a youth, she became a class clown even though she was highly intelligent. She often scored well on intelligence tests and eventually moved two grades above her class. The isolation she felt in this new environment caused her to purposely fail her studies and return to her original class.
After a while, Elliott tapped into her true passion and formed an all-female R&B group in 1989. After starting the group with her friends they named themselves Fayze (later renamed Sista). She got together with Timothy Mosley (Timbaland), a talented friend from her neighborhood and utilized him as the group’s producer. The group began making demo tracks and eventually gained a recording deal by way of Jodeci. Once given this opportunity, she brought Timbaland and their friend Melvin “Magoo” Barcliff along with her.
Missy’s deal did not produce much success beyond contributing credited and unaccredited lyrics to Jocedi projects. After the label she was signed to folded, she continued to collaborate with Timbaland as a songwriting/production team. This would prove to be more successful as she began to gain more opportunities, credit, and exposure. Her contribution to the double platinum One in a Million solidified her presence in the music industry.
Sock it to em
She continued to write behind the scenes contributing to the albums of various artists and generating a few hits in the process. Elliot stepped from behind the scenes and made her debut as a featured artist in 1996. That same year she signed another deal for her own record label The Goldmind Inc. Remaining true to her character and friendship, she brought her friend along once again for the endeavor.
Missy continued to diligently apply her talent writing for others releasing her debut album “Supa Dupa Fly” in mid-1997. This release was artistic and revolutionary. Her song “The Rain” along with the visuals set the tone for the album to become certified platinum. Missy was setting herself apart early on as her style was something yet to be seen.
Missy Elliott continued to evolve in the late ’90s producing and writing tracks and providing background vocals for other artists. Keeping her momentum strong, she released her second album “Da Real World” in 1999. It sold 3 million copies worldwide. She released a third album in 2001 while steadily working behind the seems.
I came I saw I conquered
As she continued to evolve she made history in 2002 with her fourth album “Under Construction”. It’s known as the best selling female rap album with 2.1 million copies sold in the U.S. This far, Elliott has delivered a total of six studio albums with the last one being released in 2005. Although she has taken a hiatus from making albums, her mark on music remains eminent.
Missy is as humble as she is talented. She currently works with many upcoming and unknown artists behind the scenes also mentoring them. Many of these artists are women. Her writing and production have contributed to many #1 records touching different genres from Pop to Hip-Hop, to R&B.
To date, Missy Elliott has accomplished winning close to 200 awards including 5 Grammys. She is also the first female rapper to be inducted to the songwriter’s hall of fame. Throughout her career, she has established herself as a rapper, singer, songwriter, dancer, record producer and actress and is still going strong.
Flowers are best given to others while they can smell them, so we need to get back to honoring our legends while they are among us. There was a time when African Americans celebrated each other and their accomplishments. They stood together in unity and uplifted one another. This is what we should do for our artists both as fans and fellow musicians.
Monuments and memorials are nice but they can’t be enjoyed or appreciated by those they represent once they leave us. That is why we must honor legendary figures like Missy Elliott while they are among us. In this microwave society, we must realize that quality is refined. The person currently carrying the torch is just as important as the ones who brought it forward. Because if they drop it or we allow them to drop it, there won’t be anything to pass along.
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