Today, July 1, 2021 marks Missy Elliott’s 50th birthday.
Having sold over 30 million records throughout her career, Missy Elliott--full name Melissa Arnette Elliott--is the top-selling female rapper of all time. Not only that, she’s shaped the world of both hip hop and R&B forever with her unique style, undeniable talent, and rapping ability.
It has been more than two decades since she broke onto the scene with her debut album and the star is still a rap legend, influencing the newest generation of MCs in the game.
Born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia, Missy embarked on her music career with R&B girl group Sista in the 1990s, later becoming a member of the Swing Mob collective along with her childhood friend and longtime collaborator Timbaland.
Following collaborations and guest appearances with artists like Aaliyah, 702, Total, and SWV, she launched her solo career on in July of 1997 with her debut album Supa Dupa Fly. That album included the top 20 single “Sock It 2 Me” and debuted at number three on the Billboard 200, the highest charting debut for a female rapper at the time.
Throughout her career, Elliott went on to win four Grammy Awards and sell over 30 million records in the United States. To this day, she is the best-selling female rapper in the world.
After dropping six albums in eight years, Missy took a decade-long break as she battled Graves’ disease. In 2015, she surprised us all with a comeback performance at the Super Bowl XLIX halftime show, performing a medley of some of her biggest hits alongside Katy Perry. Just a few months later, she let everyone know her comeback was the real deal by releasing an EP, Iconology.
In 2019, she became the first female rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and received the MTV VMAs Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award for her impact on the music video landscape. The next year, Billboard ranked her at number five on the 100 Greatest Music Video Artists of All Time.
Without Missy Elliott, it’s safe to say a lot of the female rappers we all know and love today wouldn’t exist.
Happy Birthday, Missy Elliott!