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Missy Elliott Turns 40: 15 Videos Celebrating Her Career

Steve Eichner, Getty Images

Beginning with the visuals for her 1997 debut single, ‘The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),’ Missy Elliott has released over a dozen memorable music videos throughout her career. Her early hits range from 1997′s ‘Sock It 2 Me’ and 2003′s ‘Gossip Folks’ to more recent tracks such as 2008′s ‘Ching-A-Ling. Misdemeanor’s bold style, often paired with Hype Williams’ experimental directing, resulted in videos that will always remain pop culture staples. As Missy celebrates her 40th Birthday today (July 1), the BoomBox joins the esteemed rapper in showcasing 15 of her zany visuals.

‘The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),’ 1997
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The lead single from Missy’s 1997 debut ‘Supa Dupa Fly’ introduced her off-the-wall style and marked the beginning of her partnership with director Hype Williams. Together they would showcase Elliott’s funky ways — who could forget that black garbage bag-inspired outfit — and Williams’ love for warped visuals in countless clips. Though it was Missy’s first solo video, the Virginia native often ommanded features from Diddy — still Puffy at the time –, Total and Lil’ Kim.

‘Sock It 2 Me,’ 1997
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In the Mega Man-themed video for ‘Sock It 2 Me,’ Missy took both Lil’ Kim and Da Brat into orbit with her, as they battled toy robots in space. Timbaland, who would eventually become a fixture in Missy Eliott videos, doubles as a mad scientist and Da Brat saves the day on a space scooter. The dancers, fitting with the motif, are decked out in sleek, black gear that likens them to robots.

‘Beep Me 911,’ 1998
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For one of her most R&B-tinged tracks to date, Missy deviated slightly from her over the top antics to release a sexier video. Like her scantily clad backup dancers, she appears in the form of a doll-like human figure and changes multiple outfits — including a Wicked Witch-inspired look — while crooning on the track. Missy’s unusually slow jam also features vocals from R&B group 702 and former Timbaland co-hort Magoo, who gets into character for the video.

‘Hit Em With Da Hee,’ 1998 %VIRTUAL-globalVideoEmbed-{“videoIds”:”517557698″,”width”:”476″,”height”:”357″}%

Missy found more success with this ‘Supa Dupa Fly’ single in the U.K. than she did stateside, and for the video she decided to venture to the dark side. The visuals were shot in a gloomy medieval castle where Missy, serving as a knight, is in control of a fire-breathing armored horse. Timbaland appears as one of the goons in the video, while rapper Mocha guests to deliver her verse and, for the accompanying dance sequence, Missy and her crew sport four-piece suits.

‘Hot Boyz,’ 1999
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‘She’s A Bitch,’ 1999
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By the time her second album ‘Da Real World’ rolled around, Missy had achieved enough success to commission a $2 million budget for this Hype Williams-directed clip, one of the costliest music videos to date. Bright colors were traded in for a darker, more ominous scheme and the video climaxes when Missy and her backup dancers rise out of a dark ocean to perform on an “M”-emblazoned platform below a stormy sky. This is spliced with close-ups of Missy’s baldhead, silver makeup and rhinestone-studded eyebrows.

‘All ‘N My Grill,’ 1999
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‘All ‘N My Grill’ can be safely considered one of Missy’s least theatrical videos, with no space trips, trippy special effects or body distortion to be seen. Instead the slow-paced visuals, city scenery and guest appearances from Big Boi and former protégé Nicole Wray craft a rounded R&B video. The video’s most eye-popping moment finds Missy and her dancers, decked out in neon raincoats, dancing in the streets.

‘One Minute Man,’ 2001

If the title and implications of this song weren’t straightforward enough, Missy further drove the point home by setting this video in the ‘Get Ur Freak On Hotel,’ where the going rate is $10 a minute. A little dance party in the hotel lobby suddenly gives way to a new shot of the rhymer, who has managed to decapitate herself without missing a beat on the track. Ludacris and Trina both drop in for their respective verses on the hit.

‘Get Ur Freak On,’ 2001

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The first single from ‘Miss E…So Addictive’ spawned one of the singer-rapper’s most iconic videos. In a jungle-like backdrop, Misdemeanor and her motley crew of backup dancers are flung here, there and everywhere — some dressed in camouflage gear, others in white body paint hanging from trees. As she raps, Missy’s head extends a few feet from her body, alien-like. Still, the video’s most cringe-worthy moment finds a dancer swallowing a mouthful of spit from across the room, before continuing to move.

‘Work It,’ 2002

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A sample from Run DMC‘s ‘Peter Piper’ might explain Missy’s decision to sport full Adidas tracksuits with matching Kangol hats and an oversized gold chain in this video. Also to be expected are numerous break-dancing segments. And while Missy doesn’t decapitate herself in this one, she does manage to swallow a model-sized Lamborghini and relax with a face full of bees. Plus, finding Halle Berry at the bottom of a beer glass is still pretty funny.

‘Gossip Folks,’ 2003

In a surprisingly colorful video that address the rumors surrounding her personal life, Missy gets comfortable in her familiar Adidas tracksuits and Kangol hats with hoop earrings. Included is one of her signature video breakdowns, where the song and scene switch suddenly to create an entirely new setting. When the original track picks up again after a few rowdy moments, Ludacris, with his exaggerated Southern drawl, spits his verse.

‘I’m Really Hot,’ 2004

In this Tarantino-inspired clip, Missy and her foreign-speaking counterparts butt heads with a rival crew, which results in what can be described as an epic dance-off. In a barren warehouse and nearby streets, dancers face-off in their respective costumes and makeup, from colorful to creepy. With less than two minutes left in the video, Missy switches up the beat completely for one of her signature breaks, but eventually things cut back to the rowdy dance warehouse scene.

‘Lose Control,’ 2005

Popular hip-hop DJ Fatman Scoop lends his amp-me-up vocals to this track, which immediately creates the sensation of being in a club. In the video, the sentiment is similar as Ciara joins Missy to dance along with her own back-up crew. Past the halfway point, the David Meyers-directed video switches to the track ‘On & On,’ where the rapid-fire spitter appears in a brand new scene alongside rocker Tommy Lee.

‘Teary Eyed,’ 2005

Continuing with the R&B lean previously displayed on tracks like ‘All ‘N My Grill’
and ‘Beep Me 911,’ Missy slows down the vocals on ‘Teary Eyed.’ To paint the
tale of a love gone wrong, she ends up bound in a straight jacket after crashing
the car of a cheating boyfriend. Despite the slower pace of the track, the singer still
incorporates a breakdown near the video’s end, which switches the beat entirely,
as she dangles upside down from the ceiling of an asylum.

‘Ching-A-Ling,’ 2008

Missy commissioned the talents of popular Japanese dance group U-Min for this video’s choreography. Against a series of backgrounds, which range from stark white to gold-toned, Missy and her dance crews swap outfits to contrast with their surroundings. Dancers clad in all-black even don white sneakers on their hands before Missy gets into a quick game of DDR. Halfway through, the video cuts to a house party where her ‘Shake Your Pom Pom’ track can be heard spinning.

– Written by Nadeska Alexis

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