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Missy Elliott Biography

Home > Music > M > Missy Elliott > Biography

Birth Name: Melissa Arnette Elliott
Born: 1971/07/01
Birth Place: Portsmouth, Virginia, United States
Years Active: 1993–present
Genres: Hip Hop, R&B, Hip Hop Soul, Pop, Club, Dance

Missy Elliott (born Melissa Arnette Elliott July 1, 1971) is an American recording artist, producer, actress and former member of the R&B band Sista as well as the Swing Mob collective. With record sales of over seven million in the United States, she is the only female rapper to have five albums certified platinum by the RIAA. In addition, she has worked extensively as a songwriter and producer for other artists, both alone and with her producer and childhood friend Timbaland.

After leaving Swing Mob, Elliott and Timbaland worked together as a songwriting/production team, crafting tracks for acts including SWV and 702, but the most notable of them was Aaliyah. The pair wrote and produced nine tracks for Aaliyah's 1996 second album, “One in a Million,” among them the hit singles “If Your Girl Only Knew,” “One in a Million,” “Hot Like Fire” and “4 Page Letter.” Elliott contributed background vocals and guest raps to nearly all of the tracks on which she and Timbaland worked. “One in a Million” went double-platinum and made stars out of the production duo.

Elliott and Timbaland continued to work together for other artists, later creating hits for artists such as Total on 1997’s “What About Us,” Nicole Wray on 1998’s “Make It Hot” and Destiny's Child on 1998’s “Get on the Bus,” as well as one final hit for Aaliyah, “I Care 4 U” before her death in 2001.

Elliott began her career as a featured vocalist rapping on Sean “Puffy” Combs's Bad Boy remixes to Gina Thompson's “The Things That You Do,” MC Lyte's 1996 single “Cold Rock a Party” and New Edition's 1996 single “You Don't Have to Worry.” Combs had hoped to sign Elliott to his Bad Boy record label. She instead signed a deal with EastWest Records, a division of Elektra Entertainment Group at that time, in 1996 to create her own imprint, The Goldmind Inc., for which she would record as a solo artist. Timbaland was again recruited as her production partner, a role he would hold on most of Elliott's solo releases.

In the center of a busy period making guest appearances and writing for other artists, Elliott's debut album, “Supa Dupa Fly,” was released in mid-1997. The success of its lead single “The Rain” led the album to be certified platinum. The album was also nominated for Best Rap Album at the 1998 Grammy Awards. The album debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart and topped the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

In 1998, Elliott continued her successful career in the background as a producer and writer on Total's single “Trippin',” as well as working with several others in the hip-hop and R&B communities. The same year, Elliott also produced and made a guest appearance on Spice Girl Melanie B's debut solo single, “I Want You Back,” which topped the U.K. Singles chart.

Although a much darker album than her debut, Elliott's second album, 1999’s “Da Real World,” was just as successful as the first, debuting at #10 on the Billboard 200, making it Elliott's second top ten album in a row. It was also her second to be certified platinum by the RIAA. It included the singles “All n My Grill” a collaboration with Nicole Wray and Big Boi from OutKast, a remix of “Hot Boyz” and “She's a Bitch.” Also in 1999, Elliott was featured, alongside Da Brat, on the official remix to the popular Mariah Carey single “Heartbreaker.”

Elliott next released “Miss E… So Addictive” in 2001. The album spawned the massive pop and urban hits “One Minute Man” featuring Ludacris and Trina, and “Get Ur Freak On,” as well as the international club hit “4 My People.” The album debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 and went to #1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, while certifying platinum. Elliott co-produced the Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mýa and Pink cover of “Lady Marmalade” for the “Moulin Rouge! Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film” album, which went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2001.

For her next outing, Elliott and Timbaland focused on an old school sound, utilizing many old school rap and funk samples, such as Run DMC's “Peter Piper” on “Work It” and Frankie Smith's “Double Dutch Bus” on “Gossip Folks.” “Work It” would reach #2 on the Hot 100 and top the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks and Hot Rap Tracks charts. Elliott's fourth album, 2002's “Under Construction,” is known as the best selling female rap album ever with 2.1 million copies sold in the United States. It peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200 and went to #2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart while certifying 2× platinum. In 2003, “Under Construction” received Grammy nominations for Best Rap Album and Album of the Year.

A year after Elliott's most successful album to date was released, Elliott felt pressured by her label to release another album, hoping to capitalize on her recent success. Elliott's singles, “Pass That Dutch” and “I'm Really Hot,” from her 2003 fifth album, “This Is Not a Test!,” both climbed the urban charts. However, both were not as successful at pop radio in comparison to many of her previous efforts. The album debuted at #13 on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum by the RIAA.

Her sixth solo album, “The Cookbook” was released in July 2005 and debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200, while being certified gold. Its first single, “Lose Control” featured Ciara and Fatman Scoop, and became a Top 5 hit in the early summer, peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Other album tracks featured guest appearances from Mike Jones, Fantasia, M.I.A., Slick Rick, Mary J. Blige, and Pharrell. In December 2005, Elliott was nominated for five Grammy Awards, including two for “Lose Control” (Best Short Form 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).