Perhaps one of hip-hop's most underrated gems is Missy Elliott, who went on one of the genre's most impressive creative runs in the early 2000s. Misdemeanor turns 44 years old today (July 1).

The genius of Timbaland was how, instead of self-serving artistry, he used those eccentric ticks in his production to bring out the best in his collaborators. His work with Missy Elliott is one of the early examples of this. After leaving the girl group Sista, Elliott stood on top of Timbaland's soundscapes and impressed with her unapologetic weirdness and slickness in meshing R&B and hip-hop. It was as if Mary J. Blige took a detour at the Land of Oz.

The Virginia native's debut album, Supa Dupa Fly, was a late '90s gem, and although Da Real World was a notch below, it birthed the "Hot Boyz" remix, one of the decade's last hip-hop bangers.

The world reached peak Missy Elliott with the classic Miss E... So Addictive. The early '00s was when Timbaland truly went insane with his influences and beats (he had already thrown European acid house at Aaliyah for "Try Again," a Billboard No. 1 hit). Elliott kept up and thrived. Timbaland threw Bhangra at Missy and the curveball inspired her best performance: the classic "Get Ur Freak On."

The hits kept pouring in through the decade and tragedy (Aaliyah's untimely death): "Work It," "Pass That Dutch" and "Lose Control." The streak ended only when the MC took her sabbatical after 2005's The Cookbook.

She came back in 2013, with two poorly received singles: "9th Inning" and "Triple Threat." These are minor stumbles, though; the rapper is working on new material and fans will definitely welcome what she has in store. People forget that it was Katy Perry headlining that Super Bowl halftime show, not Missy Elliott because her return to the stage was just that good.

Watch Missy Elliott's "The Rain (Supa Supa Fly)" Video

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