'Still Workin' It'
Born in Portsmouth, VA, in 1971, no female rap artist paralleled the success of Missy Elliott, neither during her reign nor before, and none was more deserving. Unlike most of urban music's female superstars, Missy writes her own songs as well as performs them, and her creative wit in on a par with her stylish demeanor. In addition to her talent and showmanship, though, she established herself as a genuine hitmaker alongside her longtime producer, Timbaland. She intitially scored hits for others, namely Aaliyah ("One in a Million," "If Your Girl Only Knew") and to a lesser extent 702 ("Steelo"), before moving on to score a dazzling run for herself. Her debut album, Supa Dupa Fly (1997), spawned a number of hits such as "The Rain" that were more trend-setting than they were chart-topping. The chart-toppers, of course, came soon after: "She's a Bitch" and "Hot Boyz" (1999); "Get Ur Freak On" and "One Minute Man" (2001); and "Work It" (2002). In each of these, Missy proved that, with both dignity and joviality, women could be sexual as well as forceful. As a result, she defied every stereotype imaginable without forsaking her heterogeneous fanbase.
Tell us all about the new single 'Work It' "Basically it's just Timbaland and Missy giving you some old school flavour. Work it is whatever you want it to be. Whether it's working it in the gym or working it at work, working in the bedroom, whatever. Whatever you want to do."
And what's the story behind the new album Under Construction? "It's me saying I'm a work in progress. That I'm working on myself mentally, physically, lyrically and musically. After Aaliyah passed and after September 11th I just felt that there was too much focus on negativity and not enough focus on life. Everything should be more positive. I love my family and felt the need to take more time with them. Cos life is short. Aaliyah wasn't murdered and she wasn't sick, but she's gone. Same thing with Lisa [Lopes]. They showed us that we don't have long and we're not owed a long life."
Have those experiences spurred you to work harder? "Definitely. I feel like, in case my time be up, I'll have felt like I served a purpose, and that my work wasn't in vain. I hope people could look on me and think I made some kind of contribution to music."
TLC worked on the new album, that must have been an emotional time "It was very emotional. They called me to comfort me when Aaliyah passed, they called and said, "If you need anything, we're here and you and Timbaland are in our prayers." It felt like hours later that I was making the same phone call to them. When they did the record they were the first ones to spring to mind, because they were feeling the same pain that I felt when Aaliyah passed. It was very emotional. I cried the whole time I wrote it. Chilli took it very bad. It was a special record.'
Interviewed by Sunny Martinez for Exclusive Magazine
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