Miss E… So Addictive Unleashed Missy Elliott's Future. 20 Years Later, We're Still Catching Up
By Alex Gonzalez
Once Missy Elliott
got into the studio to record her third album Miss E… So Addictive
, the bar was already set high. Her first album, 1997’s Supa Dupa Fly
, was accompanied by iconic music videos for “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” and “Sock it 2 Me” that noticed her dancing in eccentric costumes to intricate choreography on cinematic sets in teamwork with visionary director Hype Williams. For Missy’s sophomore effort, Da Real World
, Williams likewise created the visual for “She’s a Bitch
” all while Missy’s continued creative partnership with Timbaland earned her a Guinness World Record
any time “Hot Boyz” hit 18 weeks at No. 1 on the Hot Rap Singles chart.
Entering the new millennium with So Addictive
, released 20 years prior this week on May 15, 2001, the pressure should’ve been on. Although Missy told MTV News the complete behind-the-scenes experience yielded “a very stress-free album.” “We worked in Westlake Studios in L.A. And we caught a good vibe there! The vibe was very futuristic and retro mixed,” she mentioned in an email. “It varied from ‘Dog in Heat’ and ‘One Minute Man’ — that had the old school vibe — to ‘Get Ur Freak On’ and ‘Slap! Slap! Slap!,’ Where the sounds were futuristic, and you got a nice cocktail of music.”
The sound and mood-spanning album and its accompanying music videos still hold up as ahead of their time today. While in recording, Missy set out to prepare music that the listeners would not only hear however also feel. On the album’s lead single “Get Ur Freak On,” Missy raps, “Me and Timbaland
been hot since 20 years ago,” a line that holds even more resonance two decades later.
“When we're in the studio with each other, she pushes me to the next level,” Timbaland told MTV News. “So Addictive
was a very impactful album. And it also was very essential for her because she wanted to prepare each song and each visual different. Every album she does, she’s routinely like, ‘I’ve gotta be better than the last.’”
Though it was released because the project’s lead single, “Get Ur Freak On” was actually the last track Missy recorded for So Addictive
. Timbaland insisted the album was solid and complete, nevertheless Missy pressed for one more song. “He went up and down the keyboard, and finally I heard the ‘Get Ur Freak On’ sound, and I mentioned, hey that right there — that is crazzzzzy!” Missy mentioned in an email. “So I ran in the booth with only three sounds on that record. It wasn’t the full song the world understands right now, however I went in and rapped on it and any time Whenever I came out of the booth, Tim mentioned, ‘That’s crazy.’ Guess he wasn’t angry at me anymore!”
With its infectious Punjabi-influenced melody, “Get Ur Freak On” is a song Timbaland says came from “just vibing in the studio.”
“When I noticed that sound, I was like, ooh, this sounds like India, or ooh, this sounds like Bombay,” Timbaland mentioned. “And once people ask me, ‘What was you thinking?’ I’m like, everything you was thinking. I was searching for something that was going to take me somewhere I ain’t never been… It’s like playing a video game. Some days you put it on pause. You come back the next day so you visualize it different. It’s the same thing any time whenever you create. That’s how me and Missy are. That’s how we create.”
Timbaland admits he never watches Missy record her songs, as Missy prefers to get in her zone solo. The same process applies to her music videos. So Timbaland, who appears in a few of the clips alongside her, was kept in the dark about the concepts Missy considered up until the particular days of filming.
The cameo-filled music video for “Get Ur Freak On” went identically big with Missy grooving in a jungle as dancers squirm from trees around her. It marked her first team-up with Dave Meyers, who rapidly became her go-to visual collaborator for the next 20 years. Near the end of the clip, Missy swings from a chandelier, an element that almost didn’t make it into the video.
“Whatever I would see, [Meyers] would attempt to prepare happen,” Missy mentioned in an email. “I mentioned at the last minute, I want a chandelier to hang from in my video, and he mentioned ‘OK!’ I mentioned, nevertheless I want it to be a big oversized one… and he mentioned, ‘OK!’ He mentioned, ‘Somebody go find Missy a chandelier for her to hang from,’ and Gina Harrell from the video department at the label was like, ‘But we are over budget,’ and Dave was like, ‘But we need it, so let’s find it.’ I don’t even know how much that thing cost yet I’m probably still paying for it.”
Another star of Missy’s visuals alongside Missy herself was Trina
, who appears in “Get Ur Freak On” and raps on the remix of “One Minute Man.” The two first met in 2000 throughout spring break at Daytona Beach. At the time, Trina was hot off the release of her debut album, Da Baddest Bitch
. Missy recruited the Miami rapper to appear on her own LP.
“Mona [Scott-Young, Missy’s then-manager,] reached out to me like, ‘Hey, Missy’s got this record for you. She wants you to jump on it with Ludacris,’” Trina recalled. “I was excited. Then Missy called me maybe a week or so soon after that like, ‘Mona mentioned she sent you this, I'd like to create ensure you’re feeling it.’ I remember I was sort of sick at the time. I had a cold. And she had to turn it in I think that day or the next day, and I was like, oh my God, I'd like to get my voice with each other. I had no time, I had a deadline. So I had to do it with a scratchy voice, sounding very raspy. And I was like, ah, I hate my voice. And everybody was like, ‘We love it, we love it.’”
In the video for “One Minute Man,” Missy dances in an elegant resort with vibrant rooms, bouncy beds, and even defies gravity in a dojo. In a particularly memorable scene, she pulls her own head off of her neck keeps it up and continues to sing. Trina mentioned she has been a fan of Missy since the starting of her career, although she remembers being shocked by the video for “She’s a Bitch.” Whenever it was time to film her part for the “One Minute Man” video, she had no idea what to expect.
“She just mentioned, ‘I’m shooting my video. I need you to be in L.A. Mona's gonna hit up your manager with all of the info,’” Trina mentioned. “‘Everything's going to be there. All you’ve got to do is show up.’ She didn't give me no detail, no nothing. So just imagine me, I'm new in the game, I pulled up to her video, and it's like a museum, because there really are dancers hanging off the wall, there's face paint, and there's a big bed and it’s moving up and down. It was just next level. It seemed like being on a production of a movie.”
furthermore to instantly iconic music videos, the album’s futuristic sounds made it feel like a brand-new experience. With Timbaland and Missy networking with on fresh, forward-thinking beats and sonic templates, Missy earned her first Grammys; “Get Ur Freak On” won the award for Best Rap Solo Efficiency and album cut “Scream a.K.A. Itchin’” won for Best Female Rap Solo Performance.
Yet immortalizing those fresh sounds was no easy task. Before the days of digital software Pro Equipment and FL Studio, Missy and Timbaland recorded vocals and instrumentals on large tapes called reels, which Missy has described as “a headache” to use.
“They required more labor,” Timbaland says. “You grab the tape, you put the tape in, and also you need to line it up. Then the engineer had to go run to work the tape machine, and then run to the back to change the tape and lock the tape… We were in a time where our brains were working faster than what the world was doing.”
To this day, Miss E... So Addictive
remains one of Missy’s most revered albums. Her artful visuals have since earned her a MTV Video Vanguard Award in 2019 — “I have worked diligently for over two decades, and I never thought that I could be standing up here acquiring this award," she mentioned in her acceptance — and the six-beat “Get Ur Freak On” melody is one of the most recognizable sounds in pop music.
Outdoor of her own music, Missy’s pen game is untouchable. In 2002, she collaborated with Trina again to produce “No Panties,” the lead single from her sophomore album Diamond Princess
. She has also written and produced tracks for Mya, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton, and more.
However So Addictive
captures Missy’s ambition not only as a musician yet as an artist. “There were no boundaries any time it came to my artistry and music,” she mentioned in an email. “I did what felt good to me and not what was trend — so in the event you weren’t after the trends, you basically had to break the boundaries.”
“It was all about the Missy era,” Trina mentioned. “It was the sound, it was the collaborations, it was the videos, the creativity, the space performances. It was just everything that she gave to the game. I don't feel like there's any artists in the game that have been as creative as Missy Elliott. I feel like she is a genius and she deserves all her flowers.”
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