Ranking The Cameo: Missy Elliott's "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)" Music Video

In celebration of her debut studio album's 20th Anniversary, we dissect "The Rain" and rank all of the cameos in the video, from least to most memorable.

Since the mid-'80s, when acts like Run D.M.C. were breaking down barriers that kept rap music videos from appearing on national, mainstream outlets like MTV, releasing a strong visual to complement a song became an important part of an artist's success. As the '90s arrived, artists and directors alike upped the ante and budget, doing away with minimalism. Their intentions were to blow the minds of viewers and help build awareness of the music. Among the artists who took particular pride in pushing the envelope of cinematography was Missy Elliott. She became a vanguard for inventive and futuristic clips, which reflected her personality and proved to be events in and of themselves. While videos for songs like "Get Ur Freak On," "Work It" and "Lose Control" would all be hailed as influential and captivating, Missy's road to being a music video trailblazer began with "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)," her debut single as a solo artist.

The Hype Williams-directed video would be unveiled in summer of 1997 and instantly become a hit with viewers, who were equally intrigued as they were entertained by Missy's quirky tendencies. She appeared in a humongous black hefty bag, a bike helmet that doubled as sunglasses, and on a fairytale-like hill while donning a wig. "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)" single and music video influenced Supa Dupa Fly's ascent to platinum status and stamped the visual as a '90s pop culture staple. While Missy's performance may have gotten most of the attention, the music video boasted a bevy of guest appearances from some of the most notable hip-hop and R&B artists of that time, making "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)" a cultural hallmark.

In celebration of her debut studio album's 20th Anniversary, we dissect "The Rain" and rank all of the cameos in the video, from least to most memorable.

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9. Taj of SWV

Tamara “Taj” Johnson-George, a member of iconic ‘90s R&B trio SWV, is the first guest to appear in the accompanying visual to Missy Elliott’s debut single. While gearing up for the release of SWV’s third studio album, Release Some Tension, Taj, who rocked a black Fubu top and a chain with a pendant and appeared in place of Coko. Although the lead singer was name dropped in the song, she does not appear in the video. Couple that with her cameo being a brief one, and Taj’s placement on this list is self-explanatory.

8. Lil Cease

The Junior M.A.F.I.A. member is one of many faces viewers catch a glimpse of while watching the Hype Williams-directed visual. Appearing alongside his groupmate, Lil Kim, he sports a black tee and durag, keeping it very Brooklyn and adding a little Bed-Stuy flavor to the proceedings.

7. 702

One of two R&B trios to make cameos in “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” is 702, who struck gold with their debut album No Doubt the previous year. The singers can be seen staying true to their around-the-way girl image and exuding an equal mix of sass and beauty. With Missy Elliott having contributed a verse to the Las Vegas natives’ hit single “Steelo,” and appearing in the accompanying music video, 702 repaid the favor with a show of support and became a part of one of the most original music videos of all time.

6. Puffy

One of the most dominant figures in ‘90s rap reached the pinnacle of the music world but endured tragedy when The Notorious B.I.G. – the flagship artist of Bad Boy Records – was gunned down in March 1997 while in Los Angeles. However, Puffy bounced back in a big way with his debut album as an artist, No Way Out, and shook up the music world a week after Missy Elliott’s “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” was released. Having worked with Missy on multiple occasions over the previous two years, Puff appears dressed down in a black leather jacket, white tee, blue jeans, a Pittsburgh Pirates cap and shades.

5. Yo-Yo

West Coast rapper Yo-Yo, most known for her affiliation with Ice Cube and her hit single “You Can’t Play with My Yo-Yo,” makes what is arguably the most memorable cameo of her career in Missy Elliott’s “The Rain” music video. Rocking black athletic gear with white trimming while sporting a few jewels for good measure, the artist was one of three artists pops up in the video twice, first basking in the glory of Missy paying homage in a lyric, then showing off a few dance moves.

4. Da Brat

Prior to Missy and Lil Kim getting their platinum plaques, Da Brat made history as the first female rapper to achieve that feat with her debut album Funkdafied, which touched down in 1994. Riding high off of her gold-selling album, Anuthatantrum, the Chicago area native shows some solidarity while making an appearance on the behalf of So So Def and literally get rowdy, throws a tantrum and rips off her platinum denim jacket. Da Brat’s presence served as a central figure in one of the most unforgettable scenes in Missy’s definitive clip.

3. Lil Kim

Ascending as a rap diva with her seismic debut album, Hard Core, Lil Kim’s reign would carry on into 1997, with singles like “Crush on You” and more keeping her name and face front and center. Scoring another guest feature with her verse on the Supa Dupa Fly album cut “Hit Em Wit Da Hee,” the Queen B***h lends her sex appeal and charisma to “The Rain,” sharing a scene with Cease-A-Leo, before coyly staring at viewers in a white blouse, Chanel suspenders, red leather pants and designer shades.

2. Timbaland

Missy Elliott’s partner from the beginning of her career has been Timothy Mosley, better known as producer Timbaland. The two teamed up and transcended their backyard of Virginia as their sound impacted and influenced the world. Being that “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” which was produced by Timbaland, it was only right that the duos enjoy having the spotlight to themselves and a get a bit of face-time to themselves. From riding in a Hummer with Missy to imitating a plane, Timbo rocks a blue designer jacket, black tee and designer shades, and takes a page from Puffy’s book and is all up in the camera during Hype Williams-directed visual.

1. Total

Of the numerous artists and groups that are seen in Missy Elliott’s music video, the participants that displayed the most flair and personality were Bad Boy R&B group Total, who completely stole the show with their carefree antics. After gaining recognition for their hit single “Can’t You See” and making guest appearances alongside The Notorious B.I.G. and LL Cool J, Kima, Keisha and Pam became one of the hottest R&B acts in the mid-‘90s. With their sensuous, but edgy image in tow, the singers dance around in multiple scenes of Missy's "The Rain" video. In fact, they appear in the most scenes, with the final showing the lower part of Keisha’s face defying the laws of gravity. Thus, making it one hell of a punctuation to a timeless video that is still entertaining to this day.

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CIRCA 1980: Photo of Bill Withers
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Bill Withers' Greatest Hits: Remixed, Sampled And Covered

The recent loss of legends in jazz, soul and classical music have saddened the music industry and reminded us of their touching gifts to music. The passing of Manu Dibango, Krzysztof Penderecki, Ellis Marsalis Jr., Bucky Pizzarelli and Alan Merrill brought endless tributes from peers and fans with the recent loss of soul singer-songwriter Bill Withers doing the same.

With a mirage of hits, the iconic songwriter left his mark on music with the release of his debut album Just As I Am in 1971. "Ain't No Sunshine" put a spotlight on his songwriting while 1977's "Lovely Day" reminded the industry of his signature vocals. Withers released eight studio albums, one live album and garnered three Grammys for his powerful songs that gave hope and love to fans to this day.

Hip-hop and R&B have gained the most from Withers as his music went on to inspire records like "No Diggity" by BLACKStreet, "Roses" by Kanye West and other songs from UGK, Dr. Dre, Jill Scott and more.

Take a look at some of Withers' finest tunes covered, remixed and sampled below.

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8. “Lovely Day” | Menagerie (1977)

Sampled On: T.W.D.Y., “Player’s Holiday” | Derty Werk (1999) LunchMoneyLewis - “It's Gonna Be A Lovely Day” feat. Aminè | Pets 2 Soundtrack (2019) Swizz Beatz - “Take A Picture” |One Man Band (2007)

Standout: T.W.D.Y., “Player’s Holiday” | Derty Werk (1999)

Short for "The Whole Damn Yay," the group used Withers' sample while throwing a splash of The Bay's laid back flavor. With cameos from future legends like E-40 and Ray Luv, the single already embodied the best of R&B and hip-hop with guest verses from Too Short, Mac Mall and Otis & Shug. The mimosas and yacht are also a great touch.

Covered By: Jill Scott, The Original Jill Scott from the Vault Vol. 1 (2011) Alt-J, This Is All Yours (2014) Robert Glasper Experiment, Black Radio 2 (2013) Kirk Franklin, The Nu Nation Project (1998)

Standout: Kirk Franklin, The Nu Nation Project (1998)

Who was going to beat a chorus singing to the lordt? Franklin's take on the classic gives us stirring gospel and appreciation for Withers and God. There are plenty of covers that have lifted the same vocals as Withers, but the ones listed have put their unique spin on the track.

7. “Ain't No Sunshine” | Just As I Am (1971)

Sampled On: DMX - “No Sunshine” | Exit Wounds Soundtrack (2001) Lil B - “Up And Down” | Based Jam (2012) 2Pac- "Soulja's Story" |  2Pacalypse Now (1991)

Standout: DMX - “No Sunshine” | Exit Wounds Soundtrack (2001)

"No Sunshine" served as the only single from DMX's film alongside Steven Seagal, which gave everyone the perfect backdrop to the movie and X's intricate storytelling. Both the original and flipped version points out the dark elements of our lives. Withers penned the song after watching the film 1962 movie Days of Wine and Roses, he pondered over the toxicity in his life. "Sometimes you miss things that weren't particularly good for you," he said in 2004 to SongFacts. "It's just something that crossed my mind from watching that movie, and probably something else that happened in my life that I'm not aware of."

Covered By: Soul For Real | Candy Rain (1994) Michael Jackson | Got to Be There (1972) The Boris Gardiner Happening | Is What's Happening (1973) The Temptations | Solid Rock (1972)

Standout: Michael Jackson | Got to Be There (1972)

At 14, the future King of Pop gave a riveting cover of Withers' hit for his debut album, Got To Be There. From his vocal control throughout the track to the instrumentation, his cover takes the song to another level of heartbreak.

6. "Grandma's Hands” | Just As I Am (1971)

Sampled On: BLACKstreet - “No Diggity” feat. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen | Another Level (1996) Big K.R.I.T. - “I Gotta Stay” | K.R.I.T. Wuz Here (2010) Brother Ali - “Waheedah's Hands” | Champion (2004)

Standout: BLACKstreet - “No Diggity” feat. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen | Another Level (1996)

R&B heads are well aware of BLACKstreet's neverending ballads and the genius of Teddy Riley. But the pivot of their sound for their sophomore album Another Level was due to Withers and the William “Stylez” Stewart. Speaking to Fact Mag in 2017, the creator of New Jack Swing gave credit to Stylez for bringing him the sample of "Grandma's Hands."

“If he hadn’t played that sample for me, there would never be a ‘No Diggity’ And if he didn’t write it according to the melody I gave him so it would sound that way because I wanted it to sound funky,” he said. “I wanted it to be appealing to everyone, but mostly to women. I wanted every woman to feel like they were the ‘No Diggity’ girl and that song was about them and it came across. And now, still, today, that song plays and people are on that dancefloor.”

Covered By: Gil Scott-Heron, Reflections (1981) Merry Clayton, Merry Clayton (1971) Barbra Streisand, Butterfly (1974)

Standout: Gil Scott-Heron, Reflections (1981)

Gil Scott-Heron's version of the soul classic reminded us of his versatile talents. From spoken word to his vocal abilities, the Godfather of rap music always came through with his own sound and style. Reflections was one of four albums the late artist dropped in the 80s with critics looking to it as one of his finest projects. Other cuts from the album included "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" and "B Love."

5. "Use Me" | Still Bill (1972)

Sampled On: Kendrick Lamar - “Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst"  | Good kid, Maad City (2012) J. Cole- "Dollar And A Dream II" | The Warm-Up (2009) Leela James - “So Good" | Fall For You (2014) UGK - "Use Me Up" | The Southern Way (1992)

Standout: Kendrick Lamar - “Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst"  | Good kid, Maad City (2012)

Lamar's take on "Use Me" blended right into the themes of his debut album, Good kid, Maad City allowing the artist to create another world on the project. To make things even better, Lamar also sampled Al Green's "I'm Glad You're Mine" for the track.

Covered By: Grace Jones, Indigo Nights, Live (2008) Mick Jagger feat. Lenny Kravitz, Wandering Spirit  (2004) Issac Hayes, Dr. Dolittle Soundtrack (1998)

Standout: Mick Jagger feat. Lenny Kravitz, Wandering Spirit (2004)

On his third solo album, Jagger linked with Rick Rubin to test his creative energy, allowing him to work with Lenny Kravitz on their version of "Use Me." Colliding worlds was one thing but to hear Kravitz's vocals come in on the bridge, set the track apart from the rest.

4. “Kissing My Love” | Still Bill (1972)

Sampled On: J. Cole - “The Cut Off" featuring kiLL Edward  | KOD (2018) Dr. Dre - "Let Me Ride" featuring Snoop Dogg, RC and Jewell | The Chronic (1992) Masta Ace- "Movin On" | Take A Look Around (1990) Master P- "Bastard Child" | The Ghettos Tryin To Kill Me! | 1994

Standout: Dr. Dre - "Let Me Ride" featuring Snoop Dogg, RC and Jewell | The Chronic (1992)

"Kissing My Love" is one of most sampled from Withers catalog, thanks to its feverish drums. It's also why it fits into Dr. Dre's single and the G-funk era.

3. Grover Washington's “Just The Two of Us” featuring Bill Withers | Winelight (1981)

Sampled/Covered On:  Will Smith - “Just The Two of Us” | Big Willie Style (1997) Eminem- "Just The Two of Us" | Slim Shady EP (1997) Keri Hilson- "Pretty Girl Rock" | No Boys Allowed (2010)

Standout: Will Smith - “Just The Two of Us” | Big Willie Style (1997)

Touching and soulful, Smith's dedication to his eldest son Trey is just too cute for words.

2. “Let It Be” | Just As I Am  (1967)

The Original: The Beatles - “Let It Be” | Let It Be (1968)

"Let It Be" is a pretty special record. Aretha Franklin recorded a version a year before the release of The Beatles' version and Withers gave his take on the record in the 70s. Slightly faster, his upbeat take on "Let It Be" just hits different.

1. “Rosie” | Menagerie Re-Issue (1977)

Sampled On: Kanye West - “Roses” |  Late Registration (2005)

As the somber part of Late Registration, "Roses" brings us into Kanye's world where he contemplates the mortality of a loved one. It's a sentimental take on the sample and one of the artist's most underrated songs. It's also a hidden gem for Withers as it isn't featured on Menagerie's LP. It was added as a bonus track on

Enjoy the jams in playlist form below.

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Remain Calm: 5 Ways To Curve Negative Effects Of Coronavirus Isolation

Self-isolation during the coronavirus outbreak seems to be best practice in keeping our families and peers safe but it's also a shift in our normal social behavior. As millions of families around the country get adjusted to self-isolation, the state of our mental health and how our bodies react to the practice are changing by the day, especially lower-income and marginalized groups.

Speaking with Wired, John Vincent, a clinical psychologist at the University of Houston, shared how apathetic behavior can rise to the forefront, making space for anxiety and depression.

“People start getting lethargic when they don’t have positive inputs into their small worlds,” Vincent says. “We can expect depression to kick in, and depression and anxiety are kissing cousins.”

But the biggest reason behind the uneasiness isn't the self-isolation but just how long it will last. Details of COVID-19 are changing by the day with the most cases now coming out of New York. Yet, there's still little to no information on what happens next.

“Open, transparent, consistent communication is the most important thing governments and organizations can do: Make sure people understand why they are being quarantined first and foremost, how long it is expected to last,” Samantha Brooks of King’s College London told the outlet. “A huge factor in the negative psychological impact seems to be confusion about what's going on, not having clear guidelines, or getting different messages from different organizations.”

Uncertainty hitting low income and marginalized groups is also a problem within itself. As virtual parties and celebrities opening up on social media happen on a daily, there are people who might not access fun distractions on the web.

“Some people have posited technology as a means of connecting people, but lower-income groups might not even have FaceTime or Skype or minutes on their phone,” Thomas Cudjoe, a geriatrician researching the intersection of social connections and aging at Johns Hopkins University says. “People take that for granted, using their devices can be a strain on people’s incomes.”

To make self-isolation less than a bore or a daunting task, experts suggest creating a schedule to dictate control in your home.

1. Work It Out

Gyms are closed, but your home can be transformed into a personal training center. Use heavy bags for weights and if you can, create a playlist of workouts on YouTube. For those who have memberships for Blink or Peloton, the platforms have streamed their workouts on apps.

2. Mindful Meditation

Meditation isn't about dumping your thoughts, it's about staying aware and mindful. AQUA has developed online that leverages the power of "Mindful Meditation and Mobility Movements" for flexibility and fluidity in the body. Classes are free of charge but feel free to donate.

3. Take It Back To High School

Give your friends a call or indulge in a FaceTime party. Feel free to use the Wifi in your home to reduce the amount of data used on your phone. Lala Anthony held a too-cute FT birthday party for writer Kiyonna Anthony with a 70s theme. You can also find creative ways to hop on the phone with friends and family instead of constantly chatting about 'rona.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

We made the best out of our quarantine situation🎉‼️FACETIME 70s Party💃🏽🎉HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY NIECE @kiyonnathewriter ❤️❤️💃🏽💃🏽SHOUT OUT TO ALL MY ARIES ♈️ MAKE THE BEST OF IT!!!😘

A post shared by ℒᎯ ℒᎯ (@lala) on Mar 23, 2020 at 7:14pm PDT

4. Start A Journal

Journals just aren't for kids. The practice not only gives you something to do, but it fuels creativity and a new level of self-awareness. Former First Lady Michelle Obama recently developed Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice, with over 150 inspiring questions and quotes that connect to key themes in her memoir. The journal will also help bring readers to terms with the importance of family and personal reflections as well as the goals they'd like to make a reality.

5. Have a Dance Party or Enjoy Lo-Fi Beats To Quarantine To

If you don't have data or battery power to watch a virtual DJ party, make your own. If you have to pull out your record player, do it! You can also hop on your favorite streaming service and create a playlist all your own.

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From Teen Sensation To Vocal Bible: Brandy's 15 Best Songs

September 27, 2019 marked the 25th anniversary of the multiplatinum self-titled debut album by one of R&B’s greatest voices, Brandy Rayana Norwood, or simply Brandy. She was already well on her way to stardom prior to her debut as a background vocalist for Immature and one of the stars of the short-lived ABC series, Thea. However, it was the album Brandy that set her on the path to tremendous success.

Since officially bursting onto the scene in 1994 sporting her well-known braided crown of glory, she has been a force to be reckoned with. She was handpicked by her idol, the late Whitney Houston, to portray the role of the first Black Cinderella in the 1997 film Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella. Her show Moesha was one of the longest-running black sitcoms. Brandy was also a CoverGirl in 1999 and became a friend of Barbie that same year when Mattel released the Brandy Doll. In music, she’s released six studio albums, sold more than 40 million records worldwide, headlined three world tours, and won more than 30 awards including seven Billboard Music Awards, a Grammy and the Soul Train Lady of Soul Award. Brandy deserves her flowers.

Let’s check out the top 15 songs that helped solidify Brandy as your favorite singer’s favorite singer (just ask Solange) and earned her the title of the “Vocal Bible.”

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