Missy Elliott Is Still "Supa Dupa Fly" 21 Years After Her Debut
Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott released her debut album Supa Dupa Fly on July 15th, marking 21 years since the world was introduced to the innovative artist.
The album cover art shows Elliott relaxed on a throne, wearing a jersey that said “Missy,” and crisp, white Air Force 1’s. The album featured more hits such as, “Hit Em Wit Da Hee” and “Sock It 2 Me.” It went on to sell 1.2 million copies.
From the get go, Elliott dubbed herself as the Queen of the rap game.
Her first single “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” provided a soundtrack to the 90s and would change the way artists made music videos.
Before Supa Dupa Fly was released, young Elliott got her start by writing songs and putting together music groups. In 1991, she received the opportunity to sing for Devante from Jodeci, you know the 90s supergroup behind the hits “Forever My Lady” and “Come & Talk to Me.”
Elliott and her group sang for Devante and he loved them. They were signed to his new record label. Unfortunately, Elliott’s album never saw the light of day as the experience under Devante’s label turned out to be disastrous.
As a result, Elliott vowed to never be an artist and to only focus on writing and producing for other artists with Timbaland.
Elliott was successful as a writer and producer and created hits for our 90s faves: SWV, 702, Mary J. Blige, and Destiny’s Child.
In 1997, Elliott’s career took off after her and Timbaland produced Aaliyah’s sophomore album, One In A Million. They crafted Aaliyah’s signature sound with Timbaland’s heavy, hard- hitting drum beats, Elliott’s lyrics and background vocals, and Aaliyah’s angelic voice.
Elliott thought it would be a great time to get a label deal so she could sign and write for her own artists. She met with Sylvia Rhone, former chairman and CEO of the Elektra Entertainment Group. Rhone was ready to sign Eliott to the label, under one condition: her first release had to be a solo album.
Elliott agreed and changed her mind about not becoming an artist. Thank goodness because it worked out in our favor and Supa Dupa Fly was born.
Her first single “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” sampled Ann Pebbles’ 1973 song “ I Can’t Stand The Rain,” which served as the chorus:
“It’s my window, I can’t stand the rain.”
The beginning of the music video showed Elliott rapping and moving robotically side to side, wearing an inflatable trash bag, a headpiece attached with red glasses, and black, glossy lipstick.
She didn’t look like her female rapper counterparts. At the time, the female artists in hip- hop wore skirts, crop tops, and heels.
Elliott wore none of the above.
Instead, she dressed to her liking and comfortability. Elliott wanted to stand out, it was her plan to all along.
“To me, the outfit was a way to mask my shyness behind all the chaos of the look. Although I am shy, I was never afraid to be a provocative woman” Elliott said in an interview with Elle Magazine.
“The outfit was a symbol of power...I loved the idea of feeling like a hip hop Michelin woman. I knew I could have on a blow-up suit and still have people talking. It was bold and different. I’ve always seen myself as an innovator and a creative unlike any other.”
Director Hype Williams shot “Supa Dupa Fly” using the fisheye camera lens, which enlarged Elliot’s head and lips during different points of the video.
Williams turned music videos into cinematic masterpieces. Williams directed some more block buster like videos including Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It,” “TLC’s “No Scrubs,” and The Notorious B.I.G featuring Diddy and Mase’s “Mo’ Money, Mo Problems.”
The visuals were "out there" for that time. She was one of the first artists to popularize it.
In the video, Elliott wore outfits that all had one color as the focal point. She rocked yellow, orange, lime green, white, and red. Even her sunglasses matched!
The solo shots showed Elliott rapping in a tunnel like enclosure, moving her face to the front of the camera and then backing away. All repeated movements and on beat with the record.
After the shock of the outfits subsided, everyone listened to her rhymes and Elliott’s word play was clever:
“Begin: I sit on Hills like Lauryn, until the rain starts coming down, pouring. Chill, I got my umbrella. My finger waves these days, they fall like Humpty. Chumpy, I break up with him before he dump me.”
Barrrsssss *inserts explosive sound effect*
Since “Supa Dupa Fly,” Timbaland, Elliott, and Williams went on and collaborated on numerous projects together, crafting a distinctive sound and look for the 90s that many emulated but could never be duplicated.
Elliott transitioned effortlessly from the 90s to the early 2000s and brought us her popular songs, “Get Your Freak On,” “Lose Control,” and “Work It."
Elliott is still killing it. In 2017, she released her music video for “I’m Better." The dancers were doing choreography under a swimming pool on an exercise ball y’all, which is no easy thang!
Twenty-one years ago, Elliott decided that she would not be boxed in and be who the music industry wanted her to be. She wore her signature finger waves, dark lipstick, and baggy clothes, unapologetically. She focused on her appearance, music, and videos being a reflection of who she was: an individual.
It paid off because Missy Elliott is still in her own lane. She’s untouchable. A rare entity. A classic.