Real Name: Melissa Arnette Elliott
D.O.B.: July 1st, 1971 Portsmouth, Virginia, United States
Label: The Goldmind / EastWest (1996–2000)
Missy Elliott is a five-time Grammy Award-winning emcee, songwriter, and record producer. With record sales of 7.6 million domestically she is the only female rapper to have six certified platinum albums by the RIAA, including one double platinum plaque.
Elliott is known for a series of hits and diverse music videos including "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)", "Hot Boyz", "Get Ur Freak On", "One Minute Man", "Work It", "Gossip Folks", "Pass That Dutch", "Lose Control" and "Ching-a-Ling." In addition, Elliott has worked extensively as a songwriter and producer for other artists, both alone and with her producer and childhood friend Timbaland. Elliott's songwriting and production credits include work for a number of other female artists, among them Aaliyah, Monica, Destiny's Child, Mýa, Whitney Houston, Trina, Nicole Wray, Fantasia, Ciara, Raven Symone, Keyshia Cole, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, and Lil' Mo.
The Early Years
In the 1990s Missy Elliott, La Shawn Shellman, Chonita Coleman, and Radiah Scott formed an R&B group called Sista, for which Elliott served as a singer and songwriter. She recruited her neighbourhood friend Timothy Mosley as the group's producer and began making demo tracks. In 1991, Sista caught the attention of Jodeci member/producer DeVante Swing by performing Jodeci songs a cappella for him backstage after one of his group's concerts. In short order, Sista moved to New York City, signed to Elektra Records through DeVante's Swing Mob imprint. Elliott took Mosley (whom DeVante re-christened Timbaland) and their friend Melvin "Magoo" Barcliff along with her.
All 20-plus members of the Swing Mob, among them future stars such as Ginuwine, Playa, and Tweet, lived in a single two-story house in New York and were often at work on material both for Jodeci and their own projects. While Elliott wrote and rapped on child rapper Raven-Symoné's début 1993 single "That's What Little Girls Are Made Of", she also contributed song-writing duties, credited and uncredited, to the final two Jodeci albums: 1993's Diary of a Mad Band and 1995's The Show, The After Party, The Hotel. Timbaland and DeVante produced a Sista LP, 4 All the Sistas Around the World, completed in 1994. Though videos were released for the original and remix versions of the single "Brand New," the album was shelved and never released. One of the group's tracks "It's Alright" featuring Craig Mack did make the Dangerous Minds (Soundtrack) in 1995. But by the end of 1995, Swing Mob had folded and many of its members dispersed; Elliott, Timbaland, Magoo, Ginuwine, and Playa remained together and collaborated on each others' records for the rest of the decade.
After Swing Mob
After leaving Swing Mob, Elliott and Mosley (Timbaland) worked together as a songwriting/production team, crafting tracks for acts including SWV ("Can We?" 1997) and 702 ("Steelo" and its remix), but the most notable of them was Aaliyah. Elliott and Timbaland wrote and produced nine tracks for Aaliyah's second album, One in a Million (1996), 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/or 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 ("What About Us," 1997), Nicole Wray ("Make It Hot," 1998), and Destiny's Child ("Get on the Bus," 1998), 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," (which had a video featuring cameo appearances by Notorious B.I.G and Puff Daddy), MC Lyte's 1996 single "Cold Rock a Party" (backup vocals by Gina Thompson), and New Edition's 1996 single "You Don't Have to Worry." Combs had hoped to sign Elliott to his Bad Boy record label. Also that year Elliott appeared on the Men of Vizion's remix of "Do Thangz" which was produced by Rodney Jerkins (coincidentally the producer of the original version of "The Things That You Do").
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 Elliott solo releases.
Missy also appeared in LSG's song "All The Time" with Gerald Levert, Keith Sweat, Johnny Gill, Faith Evans, and Coko in 1997 on Levert Sweat Gill classic album. The same year, she rapping in "Keys To My House" with old friends group LeVert.