Missy Elliott began her career with the R&B group Sista in the early 1990s before teaming up with her longtime friend and collaborator Timbaland in the Swing Mob collective. After helping the likes of Aaliyah, SWV, and 702 rise up the charts, she made her own stab at stardom with her 1997 debut album Supa Dupa Fly. 25 years later, she’s sold over 30 million records in the US alone, become the first female rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and is widely considered to be one of the most influential hip hop artists of all time. Here’s our pick of the 10 best Missy Elliott songs of all time.
10. 4 My People
Kicking off our list of the top ten Missy Elliott songs of all time is 4 My People, a pulsating club banger with four-to-the-floor beats and some standout vocals from guest vocalist Eve. Released as the fourth and final single of Missy’s third studio album Miss E… So Addictive on March 25, 2002, it took on a fresh life after Basement Jaxx layered on the feel-good vibes for their party remix, which took the single to the top 40 in Germany, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, and Sweden and number 5 in the UK.
9. Scream a.k.a. Itchin’
Miss E… So Addictive was a watershed moment for Missy, taking her to number 2 on the US Billboard 200, certifying platinum in the US, spawning a slew of hits, and winning two Grammy Awards for two of its tracks. One of those two is Scream a.k.a. Itchin’, a quirky drum and bass number with a less-is-more approach to production and a fast and loose attitude that turned the prevailing trends in drum and bass on their head. It didn’t get released as a single, but it proved enough of a head-turner to win the Grammy for Best Female Rap Solo Performance.
8. Beep Me 911
After scoring her first top 20 hit with the Da Brat collaboration Sock It 2 Me from her debut album Supa Dupa Fly, Missy won another hit with its follow-up, Beep Me 911. Written in collaboration with Melvin Barcliff and Timbaland, the song finds Missy demanding that the cheater that she “gave up clubs and parties for” gives her an explanation for his behavior. Released as the third single from Supa Dupa Fly in March 1998, it hit number 14 on the UK Singles Chart and number 13 on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart.
7. All n My Grill
Named as one of the best Missy Elliott songs of all time by Paste Magazine, All n My Grill combines a theme that’s only too familiar (tearing down good for nothing partners) with the kind of weird and wild sonic innovations that are anything but. Helped along with cameos from Outkast’s Big Boi and Missy’s former protegee Nicole Wray, the song made it to number 20 on the UK Singles Chart and number 16 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
6. Pass That Dutch
Sure, if Tina Fey hadn’t featured Pass That Dutch on “Mean Girls,” it might not have become quite as big as it did. But she did, and the extra publicity helped the song become one of Missy’s biggest and most popular tracks. Released in September 2003 as the lead single from the album This Is Not a Test!, its thumping bass and gym class whistles helped propel it to number 9 on the US Billboard Rap Songs chart and number 27 on the Hot 100. It fared equally well on the other side of the pond, reaching the top 20 in Finland and Norway and the top ten in the UK.
5. Hit ‘Em Wit Da Hee (Remix)
As stereogum.com notes, some of Missy’s best songs have found her occupying the middle grand between rapper and singer, jumping between each mode as and when the occasion calls. On the remix to 1998’s Hit ‘Em Wit Da Hee, she starts out singing before flipping to a snarling rap that takes the song next level. Released as a single from her debut album Supa Dupa Fly, it hit number 25 in the UK to become her fourth consecutive top 40 hit.
4. Lose Control
Named as one of the top ten Missy Elliott songs of all time by live365.com, this odd school party jam about losing control on the dancefloor became one of Missy’s biggest hits on its release in May 2005, taking her and guest vocalist Ciara and rapper Fatman Scoop to number three on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 7 in the US and the top 30 in numerous other countries. It also managed to pick up two MTV Video Music Awards, a Grammy for Best Short Form Video, and another Grammy nomination for Best Rap Song.
3. The Rain
Ann Peeble’s I Can’t Stand the Rain is a classic in its own right, but when Missy decided to rap over it wearing something that bears a strong resemblance to an inflated trash bag on the video to The Rain, she created a modern classic of her own. Released from her debut album in May 1997, the song hit the top twenty in the United Kingdom and New Zealand and peaked at number 4 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
2. Work It
If rapping in reverse wasn’t a ‘thing’ before Work It, it was huge after, as was throwing around the word badonkadonk anytime the occasion called (and quite a few times it wasn’t). Embedded with a genius sample of Rock Master Scott & The Dynamic Three’s 1984 song Request Line, crammed with some of the lewdest, rudest rhymes in Missy’s songbook, and featuring a killer vocal performance, it became Missy’s biggest hit to date, taking her to number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 6 in the UK, and the top 20 in various other countries.
1. Get Ur Freak On
In at number one on our list of the best Missy Elliott songs of all time is Get Ur Freak On. A funky, freaky paean to getting wild on the dancefloor in three languages, it was like nothing that had been heard before and nothing that’s been heard since. A swaggering, strutting slice of stone-cold genius, it became a top ten hit in the US, a top 5 hit in the UK, and won a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance, making Missy the only female artist other than Queen Latifah to ever win the accolade.