MISSY ELLIOTT LIFE BIOGRAPHY:
Missy Elliott was born in Portsmouth, VA, in 1971 as Melissa Elliott. Missy's professional music career began when Jodeci member/producer Devante Swing signed her and her group, Sista, to his Swing Mob record label. Unfortunately, Swing Mob Records fell through and along with it the plans for Sista's debut album (DeVante would not release any of their recordings). Elliott was already writing with her long-time collaborator, Tim Mosley aka Timbaland, she concentrated on songwriting and production. Determined to move forward, Missy turned to longtime acquaintance Timbaland, who happened to be producing some tracks for Aaliyah's One in a Million (1996) album. It proved to be a key move for Missy, as the album racked up enormous sales. Soon record execs were knocking on her door. Missy began working with a number of artists as either a songwriter or a vocalist/rapper. Her distinctive "hee haw" rap on Gina Thompson's "The Things You Do" brought her wider exposure, and several offers from record companies. After fierce competition for her signature she finally got herself a deal with Elektra in 1996 as a solo artist on the understanding that they would subsidise her own label, Gold Mind Records.
In 1997, she launched her solo career with the Supa Dupa Fly album and attendant single "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)". The well-connected Elliott was provided with immediate exposure for the song via rotation play of its Hype Williams-directed video on MTV. Co-produced with long-time collaborator Timbaland and producer DJ Magic, the album received excellent reviews, though Elliott was reluctant to commit herself fully to a career as a performer: "I don't want to get caught up and be an artist always on the go, because once you do that, it's hard to get into the studio and do what I do." The album also featured cameo appearances from massively acclaimed artists such as Aaliyah (R.i.p.), and Busta Rhymes.
Besides the sales numbers, the album also proved critically successful, impressing nearly everyone who heard it. It had not only radio-ready singles ("Sock It 2 Me," "Beep Me 911," "Hit 'Em Wit da Hee") but also an astounding array of album tracks that showcases just how multi-talented Missy indeed was, singing on some, rapping on others.
Despite her growing reputation and success, Elliott remained based in her hometown in Virginia. In September 1998, she collaborated with 'Mel B' from the Spice Girls on the one-off single, "I Want You Back", which debuted at number 1 in the UK chart. Further writing and remixing work for Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson followed, although Elliott found time in her busy schedule to release her excellent sophomore set, Da Real World, in July 1999. This album was an even more ambitious album that featured two mammoth hits -- "She's a Bitch" and "Hot Boyz" -- along with an array of often daring collaborations with such unlikely candidates as Eminem. Around this same time, she began appearing in TV ads for the Gap and Sprite, proving that not only was she a musical talent but also an important icon for the era.
Missy admits to feeling "up against the wall" when she went to record 1999's Da Real World, the follow-up to her acclaimed 1997 debut Supa Dupa Fly. "You know, you worry about the sophomore jinx and all." Never the less, Da Real World went platinum, and landed Missy her most successful single ever with "Hot Boyz," re-writing the rules about the kind of impact one single could have on a hip hop audience. The single went platinum, remaining on the Billboard Rap Singles chart for almost an entire year, snagging the #1 spot for a mind boggling 18 weeks in a row, easily breaking the 11 week record held by Puff Daddy, Coolio, and Da Brat. In typical Missy 'genre defying' style, the single was also the #1 song on Billboard's R&B; Singles chart for six weeks in a row. The platinum-plus Da Real World would eventually be nominated for a Soul Train Award and a Grammy.
But she was determined to "exhale deeply" before entering the studio for her third effort;
"I took a look around," says Missy. "I realized we went through years of 'I Hate You' records, and then we went through the 'Gimme My Money Records,' and we went through the 'Taking Care Of Business Records.' It was time to do some sexual healing music. You know, some Marvin-type stuff. I wanted to cross all boundaries. Not put any limits on myself. Where everybody else was being 'mad at their man' I wanted to do a sexy record. I didn't want to get up into what everyone else was singing about."
Up-tempo tracks like "Lick Shots" and the funked-up "Dog In Heat" abound. "I love the way Redman comes in on that one," says Missy. "He's got that party voice and that's why I wanted him. He's the ice cream on the cake." Missy also envisioned both Jay-Z and Ludacris on the luminous "One Minute Man." "I knew what was out there - 'Bills, Bills, Bills' and 'No Scrubs' and all that. I knew I needed a record where females knew I was representing but not by 'just being mad at the man.' I know how females never want a one-minute man. Nuh-uh. So I twisted it, and said 'Let me get Jay-Z and Ludacris to represent right here.'" The dual versions dazzle, with critics already pointing to the epic song as "the sheezy of the album."
Missy constantly switches leads on the album, calling the loopy "Whatcha Gon' Do" "my alternative hip hop cut on the album." Flanked by only Timbaland on that one, Missy says "It was one of the first tracks we worked on for the project and really set off the tone for the new direction we're moving in."
In 2001 Missy released the album under the title Miss E...So Addictive, and it was again powered by two huge hits: "Get Ur Freak On" and "One Minute Man." Her remarkable popularity continued a year later with Missy's next album, Under Construction, and the drastically slimmed-down Elliott broke into the US Top 5 with "Work It", the lead-off single, and also other hit singles including "Gossip Folks."
Missy's music machine continued pummeling the charts when her fourth album, 2002's 'Under Construction', included the singles "Work It", her biggest hit to date, and Missy's successful duet with Ludacris, "Gossip Folks." In the latter, she let her critics know what she thought of recent media rumors about her, including her rapid weight loss that had taken place during 2002 and her alleged affairs with Timbaland, Tweet, and Trina. 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. Both videos were also incredibly successful relative to other rap videos on both VH1 and VH1 Soul, which tend to play Hot AC videos and R&B; videos respectively. "Gossip Folks" 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 #77 on the Hot 100. Interestingly, the song's title did cause considerable controversy so that Billboard was forced to list the song in its charts as "Pussycat."
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.
In Early 2003, Missy produced the "American Dream Remix" (featuring Tweet's additional vocals) of Madonna's single "American Life". In the summer of 2003, she was the featured rapper on Timbaland & Magoo's long-awaited return single, "Cop That Disc"; the song was a modest hit at urban radio.
On November 2003, Missy Elliott released her fifth album, 'This Is Not A Test!' which spawned the singles, "Pass That Dutch" and "I'm Really Hot", both rose the urban charts. However, both were not as successful at pop radio in comparison to many of her previous efforts. Also in 2003, Missy 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 motion picture Honey, starring Jessica Alba. The Gap approached Missy later in the year to co-star in a commercial with Madonna, which received much media attention GAP Advert. Elliott furthered her relationship with the Material Girl by performing the controversial 2003 MTV Video Music Awards show opening alongside Madonna, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.
In 2004, Missy was featured on Ciara's smash single "1,2 Step" with her verse interpolating Teena Marie 's smash hit, "Square Biz". The two soon became close friends and rumors began to spread of a lesbian relationship between the duo and also between Missy and America's Next Top Model winner Eva Pigford, which all denied.
Missy Elliott's sixth solo album, 'The Cookbook' was released in July 2005 and debuted at number two on the US charts. Its first single, "Lose Control", which featured Ciara and Fatman Scoop, became a Top 10 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 Williams. 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. After the VMA's, Missy released "Teary Eyed" which never saw chart action although the video charted on MTV's Total Request Live for a few weeks, and BET's 106 & Park for a few days.
In early September, Missy 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, Elliot won Best Female Hip Hop Artist at the 2005 American Music Awards, defeating colleagues Lil' Kim and Trina. Also in November, Missy's remixed version of Ashlee Simpson's "L.O.V.E." (from her sophomore effort, I Am Me) was included on the CD single.
Missy premiered her own reality show on the UPN Network, The Road to Stardom with Missy Elliott in mid-2005. Although the series never made impressive ratings, it did maintain a solid audience. The winner, Jessica Betts, plans to release her album in 2006.
In December, Missy was nominated for 5 Grammy Awards, including two for "Lose Control" (Best Short From 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). Missy was also just recently been nominated for Best International Female Artist at this years Brit Awards.
In early 2006, Missy's single and video for "We Run This" was released with heavy airplay on VH1, MTV, and BET. It also will be featured on the soundtrack to the gymnastics-themed film Stick It. As for future releases in 2006, Missy stated she'll be putting out a Greatest Hits record with 3 new tracks. British merchandise giant HMV has the album, entitled "Respect M.E." being released September 9th.
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