Looking back to the early 2000s, there are few more significant female icons than Missy Elliot. From her first album Supa Dupa Fly in 1997, Elliot created music that was well ahead of the curve, expressing black creativity, sexual agency, and body positivity in ways that were previously unheard of.
But paired with her original sound was a dominant visual aesthetic which was equally futuristic. Through her music videos, Missy Elliot introduced her massive audience to Afro-futurism and Afro-surrealism, creating hyperdimensional realms filled with surreal technologies and imaginative creatures, empowering herself, the black community, and females all over the world.
A visionary hip hop icon, Missy Elliott created music that wasn’t just meant to be heard – but to be seen. Check out her 5 greatest music videos right here.
5. The Rain
Missy released her debut album Supa Dupa Fly in 1997, and with the album came several music videos. However it was her clip for The Rain which introduced Elliot’s distinctive aesthetic style which would go on to change the spectrum of hop hop.
The use of a fish-eye lens throughout the video is of course characteristic of the era, however Elliot had something new to share. The video includes a display of her expansive fashion, hair and makeup styles, as well as her signature choreography. The Rain video also sees Elliot dancing in an inflated garbage bag, establishing her rebellious attitude towards beauty standards in the music industry.
4. Where They From (WTF)
While The Rain was what really established Elliot’s visual legacy, much more advanced videography technologies in later years have allowed Elliot to more profoundly capture her futuristic vision. The 2015 track, Where They From (WTF) is nothing short of hypnotising in a way that makes you want to shake and thump.
In the clip we see Missy flawlessly switch between outfits, one of which sees her covered in mirror pieces like a human disco ball. Then suddenly, a stringed-puppet version of the artist dancing, ironically demonstrating that Missy Elliot can not and will never be tamed.
3. I’m Really Hot
While Missy Elliot’s style is original in every way, the artist still uses her music videos to pay homage to those who inspire her. The music video for I’m Really Hot is riddled with Tarintino references, with a nod to Kill Bill Vol. 1 in particular.
The intro of the song even sees a group of Elliot’s ‘rivals’ pull up in Uma Thurman’s famous Pussy Wagon. The inclusion of oriental-themed neon signs combined with otherworldly humans with painted faces is equally visually stunning, wickedly funny, and dark.
2. Pass That Dutch
While there’s nothing predictable about Missy Elliot, Pass That Dutch could just be her most surprisingly wild video. The clip features Elliot on a cornfield, surrounded by rabid dancers before she’s strung like a scarecrow to blast her rhymes.
While the sudden appearance of a UFO shocks you, its the scene when Elliot and a Jeep full of friends eat a man and spit out his bones that leaves you with your jaw dropped open. We also see some of Elliot’s sleekest choreography, proving yet again that she can seamlessly combine smoothness with a sense of absurdity that makes you smile.
1. Work It
Work It is without a doubt one of Missy Elliot’s most iconic tracks, one that makes you burn calories just listening to it. The clip not only oozes Elliot’s signature vogue, but also pays homage to the golden age of hip hop which inspired the artist from an early age.
The video features Missy covered in live honey bees, as well as several dance scenes in front green screens which transport the artist to wicked and wild imagined worlds. Work It was even awarded the #2 spot in Billboard’s 100 greatest music videos of the 21st century.
Work It represents everything that Elliot has strived for in her career: a sense of playful humour and an expectation-defying attitude.