2018 Essence Festival Presented By Coca-Cola - Louisiana Superdome - Day 2
Missy Elliott performs onstage during the 2018 Essence Festival presented By Coca-Cola - Day 2 at Louisiana Superdome on July 7, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Essence

Flipped And Reversed: Missy Elliott's 16 Best Music Videos

When you think about innovative music videos Missy Elliott should come to mind. As one of the most important hip-hop artists of the modern era, the living legend has finally received her roses when it was announced she would be the recipient of the Micheal Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the 36th annual MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 26.

Elliott is the first female hip-hop artist to receive the honor and after many online petitions, social media callouts and dissected anecdotes, it’s about time. Before it music videos were funneled daily into spaces like YouTube, social media accounts and streaming platforms, we patiently awaited for videos from Missy on TRL or 106 & Park.

With a mix of magic realism and Afrofuturism, Missy (with help from visionaries Dave Meyers and Hype Williams) created a world we wanted to get lost in. Her visuals to 1997’s “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” helped set the standard for animated hip-hop music videos that can be seen today with fellow female rappers like Nicki Minaj, Tierra Whack and Doja Cat. There’s also her strong use of choreography in videos like “One Minute Man,” “Gossip Folks” and “Work It” all of which can still pack a dance floor.

But not all of Missy’s visual gems shine in the aughts. Her videos to recent jams like “Where They From (WTF)” and “I’m Better” break her creative glass ceiling.

With that said, the VIBE staff gathered 16 of Missy’s finest videos.

Enjoy the list below. 

___

16. “All N My Grill” ft. Nicole Wray, MC Solaar and Big Boi (1999) 

       Director: Hype Williams

The dramatics in “All N My Grill” almost make you forget Missy is dealing with a f**k boi. Down shots paired with bright threads on Missy and then-protege Nicole Wray give the video a rich cinematic feel. The video isn’t as animated as others on this list, but production by Timbaland makes the song climatic on its own.

In both versions of the video (Big Boi was on the US release, French legend MC Solaar was on the European release), the dancers shine the brightest. With yellow raincoats and hats to match, the dance number provides the right amount of flair for a Missy video. -Desire Thompson

15. Hit 'em Wit Da Hee” (1997) 

       Director: Paul Hunter

In a pinstripe outfit from the hat to the pants to a chainmail costume, Missy turns down the brightness of her clothing and visuals to tell a medieval story full of grey, black and silver tones. Set in a castle, Elliott is both queen and king as she showcases her unique sorcery.

The video is also full of dance sequences including a captivating number as the rain pours down. Showcasing her versatility, Missy diversified her music video palette by taking viewers to a new section of her creative mind. - Camille Augustin

14.  “Hot Boyz” ft. Nas, Eve and Lil Mo (1999) 

         Director: Hype Williams

Right before the year 2000 came to fruition, Missy aimed to round out 1999 with a pyrotechnic show that amplified flames to the rhythm of the beat. The proceedings begin with Nas’ opening verse as Eve and her effortless flow is a masterclass on breath control and captivating wordplay. 

Background dancers keep the ante of the melody on an energetic level, even Missy gets in on the choreography which remained a staple in her music videos. With a swoop of hair over her eye, Missy remained sultry and mysterious for her significant other, taking charge of her iconic short haircuts during that time. Mary J. Blige and Ginuwine also make an appearance as a fiery blaze serves as the backdrop to round out the Hype Williams-directed visual.  -C.A. 

13. “Sock It To Me” ft. Da Brat  (1997) 

       Director: Hype Williams

Throughout Missy Elliott’s canon of visuals, she always made sure to turn up the vibrancy of colors. This was the case for “Sock It 2 Me.” From the cherry red outfits, hair, and even that Mega Man-inspired space suit that many believe paved the way for Gmail's logo. 

Like the otherworldly visual productions for Elliott’s videos, “Sock It 2 Me” landed viewers in a completely different universe as she, Lil’ Kim, and Da Brat escaped menacing robots. Timbaland also makes an appearance, reminiscent of a mad scientist in the lab having cooked up another certified hit. -C.A. 

12. “Beep Me 911” ft. 702 and Magoo (1997)  

       Director: Earle Sebastian 

In the video for her song about questioning the motives of an unfaithful lover, Missy Elliott created a set that looked like a doll-themed club from 2050. Missy leads a cast of collaborators and backup dancers with vibrant, shimmery fashion – a golden dress with a protruding collar behind her neck, a bright orange jumpsuit, a hot pink one-sleeved jacket - and robotic dance moves that perfectly matched Timbaland’s skittery percussion. 

Timbaland and Magoo even join in with shiny suit jackets and oil-slicked hair, and 702 with a trio of pink and black outfits. Missy Elliott’s music always felt like it was from the future, and the video for “Beep Me 911” embodied that forward-thinking spirit. William Ketchum 

11. “Take Away” ft. Ginuwine and Tweet (2001) 

        Director: Dave Meyers 

What makes “Take Away” such a touching video is its dedication to Aaliyah. Released after her passing, many wondered how Missy would pay homage to her close friend and collaborator. Meyers and Elliott kept things light and angelic with koi pond/Fantasy Castle settings as a celestial light traveling throughout each scene, almost a reminder that Baby Girl will always be with them and the world.

“Take Away” was also released a month after 9/11. With Missy being a leader in the “two music videos in one” trope, the transition into “4 My People” is an upbeat tribute to the victims of the terror attack. -D.T. 

10. “One Minute Man” ft. Trina and Ludacris (2001) 

       Director: Dave Meyers 

I was 16 and too young to know the lyrics to “One Minute Man,” so like any normal teen I sang the words when my mother wasn’t around. The frisky track about a man who could only perform for sixty seconds was considered Rated R for the times, but Missy with the help of Meyers made the video for the scandalous single fun. 

Whether it be a headless Missy dancing in the corner, or her sliding across the marble floor with the introduction of the fast-paced “Whatcha Gonna Do,” the video proved to be more stimulating than the one minute some men can offer. (no shade, no tea) All jokes aside, Missy could’ve taken a cliche uber sexual approach, but it’s Missy, when has she ever been cliche or predictable? - Shenequa Golding 

9. “I’m Better” ft. Lamb (2017) 

      Director: Dave Meyers

“I’m Better” marked Missy’s later offerings to the world of music videos, making it well worth the wait. Precision instantly drips from the choreography as her style jumps from red feathers on top of an all-black fit with thigh-high boots to a shimmering opal lip. With her eyes hidden behind her asymmetrical bangs, she never misses a beat. 

Missy didn’t have to boast about how much better she is because the video proves it. Her three outfit changes (!), platinum blonde, turquoise, and black hairstyles, remind us of the uniqueness only she can deliver. Alexis Reese

8. “I’m Really Hot” (2006)

      Director: Dave Meyers

If a martial arts film and hip-hop dance crew had a child, then Missy Elliott’s “I’m Really Hot” music video would be it. Slightly inspired by Quentin Tarantino’s 2003 blockbuster film Kill Bill: Volume 1, the Bryan Barber-directed (“Braid My Hair,” “Roses,” “Bia Bia,” “Blowin’ Me Up (With Her Love)”) visual takes us to a Tokyo-esque place where Missy’s squad and a Japanese posse battle it out in the streets. For what? Oh, you know, to end the “gum-bumpin’” and settle who really has the dance cred in the streets. 

As the crews go head-to-head in You Got Served style, the dance break slides into Soho’s “Hot Music” where Missy and her crazy talented background dancers make it clear there’s no dance style they can’t touch. Get into the serious krumpin’, Alyson Stoner cameo, and fightin’, flyin’ ninjas! Man, they don’t make music videos like this no mo’. Christine Imarenezor 

7. “She’s A B***h” (1999) 

     Director: Hype Williams 

Women are often portrayed negatively for taking control of their own lives and images, and Missy was fine with being the bad girl the video for “She’s A B***h.” 

With an ominous black and white backdrop, stormy clouds, and a magnificent presentation of lights, Elliott looks like a femme supervillain from the futuristic Judge Dredd films: a full-length black trenchcoat, a full-body black leather outfit with straps across her torso, and sunglasses that covered virtually her entire face and wrapped around her bald head. 

She then dons a cowgirl outfit in the way that only Missy can, leads multiple choreographed dance numbers in a black mink with her hair laid. Noted as one of the most expensive music videos ever made for a cool $2 million, "She's a B***h" was also revolutionary in nature. For anyone who wanted to call women b***hes, Missy Elliott was willing to take them on with another example of her brilliant vision and versatility. -W.E. 

6. “Gossip Folks” ft. Ludacris (2005)  

     Director: Dave Meyers

Missy took us back to school and the cattiness that comes with it. Rocking a matching dark red and pink Adidas tracksuit with a fly pink hat, she leads the choreography by school lockers, in front of her dancers. 

As they are dressed in classic school uniforms with pressed khaki pants and plaid pleated skirts. Jumping from the typical school scenes, we head to the cafeteria where it really goes down as he samples Frankie Smith’s “Double Dutch Bus.” 
As she briefly transitions while in an untamed classroom, she gets back on pace as Ludacris is met outside dripped in an alligator suit with matching shoes. This catchy yet relatable hit will forever be ingrained in our brains from the choreo to the style. Thank you, Missy.  - A.R. 

5. “Where They From (WTF)” ft. Pharrell Williams (2015) 

     Director: Dave Meyers 

Whew, the comeback.

Missy literally shines in “Where They From (WTF).” Her disco ball fit with diamond-encrusted lips locks us in and we haven’t even gotten to the choreography yet. 

The creative vision behind yet another Dave Meyers visual will make you say “WTF” (What The F**k) as you watch Elliot body choreography, seamlessly switch between outfits, and turn into a puppet. Missy said she was waiting for the right time to release her puppet performance idea with “WTF” being it. Pharrell lives through a puppeteer as he or it glides through his verse. As she is rooted in the up-tempo beats, the fast-hitting hit deserves nothing less than a round of applause. - A.R. 

4. “Get Ur Freak On” (2001)     

     Director: Dave Meyers

There are some who are comfortable in the box, while others work diligently to think outside of it. Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott was neither aware of the box or let anyone’s limiting parameters define her, and proof of this can be seen in her star-studded video “Get Ur Freak On.” 

Elliot opted for a gritty underworld with superior fighters trained in hand-to-hand combat as the scene. You could always count on Elliott and Myers to add some special effect, whether it be the way Elliott’s head zig-zags outside of the screen or her hanging from a chandelier with one hand. “Get Ur Freak On” is easily one of Missy’s best. S.G. 

3.  “Work It” (2002) 

     Director: Dave Meyers 

There was a lot going on during the Making The Video episode for “Work It.” Bees were flying around the set, greenscreens were used during multiple takes and there a strong dose of homage to the golden age of hip-hop. Still, it was hard to look away from the TV because I just had to see the finished product of what would be one of the biggest videos of the year. A lot wasn’t explained to the cameras as Missy and Meyers went through each shot and dance number. Halle Berry’s cameo wasn’t mentioned until the very last minute and none of us realized that the chorus’ was actually flipped and reversed. 

But the outcome was beautifully paced and included so many special effects that remain fresh to this day. Watching the “Work It” video in 2019 feels just as new as it did 17 years ago. The single and video might be her biggest crossover, but we knew Missy had so much more to offer. 

2. “Lose Control” ft. Ciara and Fatman Scoop (2005) 

       Director: Dave Meyers

By 2005, Missy Elliott had shown the world she makes memorable, electrifying music and her videos intentionally echo that. So after more than a decade in music, she had nothing to prove to anyone, which left room for her and video director Dave Meyers to have even more fun. 

With an old-western world as the theme, a fleet of dancers accompanied Missy, Ciara and Fatman Scoop in the desert. The high-octane video kept up with the fast pace and energy of the song. Viewers burned calories simply watching Missy head on top of an agile and energetic and dancer, proving once again that Missy doesn’t disappoint.  

1. “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” (1997) 

      Director: Hype Williams 

“The Rain” is the piece that started it all for Missy’s legacy as a music video icon. A short-haired Misdemeanor Elliott joined  Hype Williams and his signature fisheye lens to showcase her moves inside of an inflated black garbage bag, her slick dance moves, and an assortment of bright, colorful ensembles. 

The video also had cameos by Timbaland, Tamara "Taj" Johnson-George of SWV, Yo-Yo, Lil' Kim, Total, 702, Da Brat, Lil' Cease and Puff Daddy - a who’s who of black music at the time of its 1997 release. 

“The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” was foundational both for her and for hip-hop as a whole, capturing Missy completely in her element: comical and wacky, but still fly and silky smooth, comfortable in her own skin the whole way through. 

Honorable Mentions 

“Tipi Ti On My Cappi Town” - Pootie Tang ft. Missy Elliott and Prince Paul  (2001) 

Director: Chris Rock/Louis C.K. 

You probably don’t remember the cult classic that is Pootie Tang and that’s totally fine. But the bright and bold creative style in the film was a perfect pairing for Missy as she starred as herself to sing along aside the film’s inaudible hero. Prince Paul and Missy contributed the track “Tipi Ti On My Cappi Town” with the full version hitting the internet in 2013. One can only imagine what a full music video with these two would look like. - D.T. 

“Pass That Dutch” (2003) 

Director: Dave Meyers 

How many hip-hop videos (scratch that… videos periodt) can we say have successfully combined Riverdance/Irish step dance to a Timbaland beat with the concept of canoodling with otherworldly life forms, gettin’ jiggy in a cornfield and Bratz dolls? Only Missy can dream it up and pull it off. 

With her frequent collaborator Dave Meyers, the supernova once again delivers an out-of-this-world visual that completely tramples expectations, and brings us a delightfully weird, yet stand-out moment in video history. Also, let us pour one out in remembrance of Aaliyah, Tupac, Biggie, Big Pun, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and the victims of 9/11, who are memorialized in the beginning of the video with Missy’s song, “Baby Girl Interlude/Intro.” - J’na Jefferson 

From the Web

More on Vibe

Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Travis Scott Announces Netflix Documentary 'Look Mom I Can Fly'

Travis Scott has had a summer filled with releases from his Jordan 1 Retro Lows to his Cactus Jack pop up shop overseas, teaming up with Reese's Puffs cereal, and being featured on musical projects with Ed Sheeran and Young Thug.

The Houston-native is not stopping just yet. He took to his Instagram on Thursday (Aug. 22) to announce a nostalgic release of his upcoming Netflix documentary Look Mom I Can Fly.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

GOT SOMETHING U MIGHT WANNA SEE IT. . !!!MEET ME HERE NETFLIX AND NO. CHILL 11200 Northwest Freeway, Suite 300 Houston, TX 77092

A post shared by flame (@travisscott) on Aug 22, 2019 at 3:35pm PDT

The rapper popped up at a used video store in Houston's Central Northwest neighborhood with radio station KBXX 97.9 The Box to autograph his version of the throwback VHS tapes.

THE LEGEND. @trvisXX 🚀🚀 #LookMomICanFly pic.twitter.com/m94OKk8yzx

— KBXX 97.9 The Box (@979TheBox) August 23, 2019

Back cover of @trvisXX’s Netflix documentary. Looks like we’re getting tour footage, founding of the label and some FATHERHOOD footage as well! #LookMomICanFly #LMICF pic.twitter.com/GCMIN9hmY6

— KBXX 97.9 The Box (@979TheBox) August 22, 2019

With no official details of the doc's release, fans will be able to "join Travis Scott and the ragers on a rollercoaster ride to Astroworld."

Never before seen footage, his early moments as a father, and his entrepreneurial journey with his Catcus Jack label will be highlighted in the film.

Continue Reading
Getty Images

A Musical Inspired By 'Soul Train' Could Be Headed To Broadway

A musical inspired by the 1970s classic black television program, Soul Train, is on the radar for a Broadway debut. Host and creator, Don Cornelius, debuted the highlights of black music and culture.  The syndicated program ran from 1971- 2006, featuring guests like Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, and more.

The New York Times reports that a creative team of three of the most influential black women in the modern-day theater world will be the core of production. Kamilah Forbes, executive producer for the Apollo Theater, will sit as director, Camille A. Brown (Choir Boy) will choreograph, and Dominique Morisseau (Ain't Too Proud) sits as the writer for the script.

Questlove posted on his Twitter with the news.

Soul Train’s A Comin.... https://t.co/TMiYoxib0A

— A New Love: Questlove (@questlove) August 19, 2019

He will sit alongside Tony Cornelius, Don Cornelius' son, as executive producer.

Known for it's famous "Soul Train" line, the musical will center the in-studio performers. "I thought it would be so interesting to tell the story of the dancers and Don, in connection and in contrast and in contradiction and in conflict with each other," Morisseau said.

The playwright also will infuse the different "origins of dance culture and the black experience."

Don Cornelius stepped down as the host in 1993. He later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 2012 in his Los Angeles home. He was 75.

The musical is aiming for a 2021 premiere.

Continue Reading
Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Something in the Water

SZA Reveals Sophomore Album Is On the Way

2017 was a monumental year for R&B artist SZA. The sultry and soulful singer dropped her album Ctrl, garnering the most Grammy Award nominations for a female artist in 2018.

In an interview on Kerwin Frost Talks, "The Weekend" songstress alluded that her next studio album is coming "soon as f**k." "Everybody I f**k with and respect never had an issue on sophomore albums. People who make real music, no bullsh*t, have never struggled with a sophomore album," she said. "It is a little bit to dance in your brain like 'What do people want from me?' And then you just gotta make sh*t that feels good."

Following an MTV Video Music Award, a BET Award for Best New Artist, a Billboard Music Award for Top R&B Female Artist, two Soul Train Music Awards, and three NAACP Image Awards, her highly-anticipated project is coming from a place that she compares to cognitive dissonance. The New Jersey native is inspired by the sounds of Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, Björk, and Wu-Tang Clan.

With no official release date announced, fans can only wonder if they will have all of the feels that her debut album successfully achieved.

Watch the full interview below.

Continue Reading

Top Stories