Biography, Age, Life and Career-Missy Elliott

Biography, Age, Life, and Career-Missy Elliott

Who Is Missy Elliott?

A four-time Grammy Award-winning rapper, singer, songwriter, dancer, and producer, Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott has consistently pushed the boundaries of hip hop with a string of classic hit singles — such as “Get Ur Freak On,” “Work It,” “Lose Control” and “Gossip Folks.” She is also a formidable businesswoman who retains full creative control over her music, videos and productions. A longtime collaborator with her childhood friend from Virginia, the producer Tim “Timbaland” Mosley, she has also worked with Jay Z, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Madonna, Janet Jackson, and many more. Elliott is a positive role model who projects strength, confidence, and female empowerment — but has never sacrificed her sense of fun or her capacity to entertain.

Early Life

Elliott was born Melissa Arnette Elliott on July 1, 1971, in Portsmouth, Virginia. She is the only child of Ronnie, a U.S. Marine at the time of her birth, and Patricia, who later worked for a power company. While Ronnie was still a Marine, the family lived in a mobile home in Jacksonville, North Carolina, but he struggled for work after his military service and they moved back to Portsmouth, living in a rat-infested shack.

Ronnie was violent, and beat Patricia in front of their daughter; Elliott experienced more trauma at age eight when she was raped by an older cousin. She wrote to Michael and Janet Jackson, begging them to come and save her — she already knew she wanted a future in music. They never wrote back. “I cried every night about that,” Elliott told The Guardian in 2001. “Now I’m friends with Janet. But sometimes we’ll be in a club together and I’ll find myself thinking, ‘But you never wrote me back when I needed you.'”

As Elliott entered her teens, Ronnie became even more violent toward Patricia and Elliott begged her mom to escape from him and take her, too. This finally happened when Elliott was 14, though life continued to be a struggle financially.

Elliott grew up in the Baptist faith and has said that her religious beliefs will always be a large part of her life. She explained in 2003 that her faith helped her cope with her childhood abuse — and subsequent depression. “You have to find some kind of peace,” she said. “I believe in a higher being, and that gives me faith to be strong and go on.”

While she was still at school she formed a girl group, Sista, and after auditioning for the producer DeVante Swing, they were signed to his label, Swing Mob Records — and Elliott, who by now had finished her education, moved to New York. But her big break turned out to be a false start, as the label folded before Sista’s debut album — most of which Elliott had written herself — was ever released.

‘Supa Dupa Fly’

After Sista split up, Elliott continued writing and producing songs, often working with her childhood friend, the producer Tim “Timbaland” Mosley — crafting tracks for Aaliyah and SWV, among others. She wrote her first hit, “That’s What Little Girls Are Made of,” for Raven-Symoné in 1993, and made her first appearance as a featured vocalist in 1996 with a guest verse on Sean “Puffy” Combs’ remix of “The Things You Do,” a song Elliott had co-written for Gina Thompson.

This brought her to the attention of Sylvia Rhone, the CEO of Elektra Entertainment Group, who gave Elliott the chance to form her label, Goldmind. It was on Goldmind, which Elektra distributed, that Elliott released her debut album, Supa Dupa Fly, in 1997. The album went platinum and earned Elliott the accolade of rap artist of the year from Rolling Stone. She continued her prolific work rate, co-writing and co-producing two songs for Whitney Houston’s 1998 album, My Love Is Your Love, and appearing on the Spice Girl Mel B’s solo single “I Want You Back,” which went to No. 1 in the U.K.

Elliott was hailed by The New Yorker as the “biggest and blackest female rap star that Middle America has ever seen,” who had “avoided the prevailing stereotypes of the music-video industry.” Meaning, that she did not pander to the male gaze as many female artists did — or felt compelled to do — during the height of the MTV era. She projected confidence through her style instead, donning an inflatable bodysuit and outsized shades in the video for “The Rain,” and a red-and-white space suit for “Sock It to Me.”

Her message has always been that women “are equal to men, as important as men and as powerful,” noted the fashion magazine Dazed retrospectively, in 2016. “If you love Nicki and Beyoncé, it’s important to remember the artist who paved the way.”

‘Da Real World’ to ‘This Is Not a Test’

Elliott’s next two albums — Da Real World in 1999 and Miss E … So Addictive in 2001 — also went platinum. In 2002 her fourth album, Under Construction, which featured collaborations with TLC, Beyoncé and Jay Z, broke sales records for a female-led rap album, exceeding 2.1 million copies in the United States. The following year she remixed Madonna’s single “American Life,” and they performed together with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at the MTV Video Music Awards; Elliott also found time to put out a fifth album, This Is Not a Test, which yielded the hit singles “Pass That Dutch” and “I’m Hot.”


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