Missy Elliott revolutionised the music industry with her bold, unapologetic rap. Now, her forward-thinking music videos are finally getting the recognition they deserve.
Cast your mind back to the summer of 2001. Mýa, Pink, Lil’ Kim, and Christina Aguilera were the Ladies Marmalade, Sex and the City ruled our TV screens, and Britney and Justin donned matching denim outfits to the American Music Awards. Pop culture at its finest, some might say.
But your recollection of the early 00s might best be summed up by one song that ruled the airwaves. It was, of course, Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On”.
The iconic track revolutionised the music industry, but Elliott was just warming up. In the next few years, we were blessed with the likes of “Work It,” “Lose Control” and “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)”, which became the defining sound of the 00s and cemented Elliott’s status as a global superstar.
Now, Elliott is set to be honoured for her boundless contribution to the world of music videos, following the announcement that she will receive MTV’s Video Vanguard Award at this year’s VMAs.
Following in the footsteps of previous recipients like Madonna, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kanye, Justin Timberlake, and Britney Spears, the legendary rapper, producer and songwriter will receive the prestigious award on 26 August, when she will also perform at the ceremony for the first time in sixteen years.
“Missy’s impact on the music landscape is indelible,” said Bruce Gillmer, head of music and music talent, Viacom and co-brand head at MTV International. “Her creative vision across production, performance and songwriting is unmatched.”
Gillmer is right: Elliott’s influence on the music industry has been profound. Not only has she amassed 30 million records worldwide over the course of her thirty-year career, but she’s also a five-time Grammy Award winner.
Elliott has broken records in her own right too, becoming the first female hip-hop artist to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. She also remains the only female rapper to have six studio albums certified platinum.
If you remember the release of Missy Elliott’s first-ever music video for “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” then you’ll also know that the rapper is a master of videography. Elliott’s videos felt like they came from a whole other universe - one that everyone watching wanted to be transported to, with immediate effect. From the costumes and makeup, to the visual effects and choreography, they were vivid, hypnotic, and endlessly creative. Little wonder that the release of a new Missy Elliott music video is a feeling that still excites music lovers, from all walks of life, to this day.
The 2019 MTV VMAs take place on 26 August. In the meantime, it’s a perfect time to revisit her spectacular back-catalogue of head-swerving, car-swallowing, robot dancing videos.