Missy Elliott

(b. 1971)

The most commercially successful female Hip Hop artist of all time, Missy Elliott is also lauded as an innovative creative force whose influence extends across the genre. A distinctive rapper-singer-writer with a verbal wit to match her visual panache, Elliot has sold over 30 million records in the United States and won five Grammys. In addition to her own releases, she has worked extensively as a songwriter and producer for other artists, both on her own and in collaboration with childhood friend Timbaland.

Born Melissa Arnette Elliott in Portsmouth, Va., Missy had a difficult upbringing; she has said her father was abusive to her mother, who eventually took Missy and left him. Initially billed as Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott, she had her first brush with the music industry when her group Sista was signed by Jodeci member Devante Swing to his Swing Mob label. Not much came of that deal, but Elliott's friendship with Timbaland led to her contributing her production, writing and vocal talents to Aaliyah's smash 1996 album One In A Million and co-producing R&B singer Ginuwine's 1996 release Ginuwine…the Bachelor.  She and Timbaland continued to work together with other artists, creating hits for Total, Nicole Wray and Destiny's Child, before Elliot launched her own recording career with 1997's Supa Dupa Fly.  Spearheaded by the hit “The Rain,” it became the first of six of her records to go platinum.

In recent years Elliott has maintained a low profile, due to a battle with the thyroid condition Grave’s disease; she’s vowed to resume her musical career.