The Underrated: Missy Elliott's Supa Dupa Fly

By @CherchezLaPorsh

1. Busta’s Intro 
2. Hit Em Wit Da Hee
3. Sock It 2 Me
4. The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)
5. Beep Me 911
6. They Don't Wanna Fuck Wit Me
7. Pass Da Blunt
8. Bite Our Style (Interlude)
9. Friendly Skies
10. Best Friends 
11. Don't Be Commin (In My Face)
12. Izzy Izzy Ahh
13. Why You Hurt Me
14. I'm Talkin
15. Gettaway
16. Busta’s Outro 
17. Missy's Finale 

Hip hop is a genre rich in talent. We all know this. In such a male dominated genre, it seemed the ladies of hip hop had to work extra hard to be noticed and especially to be regarded as a legend. Make no mistake, several women were able to do this and be regarded as top MC's, but only one would be solidifying her ranks behind the scenes. This includes producing and mastering incredible tracks and launching the careers of others who would also go on to be legendary such as Aaliyah, Total, SWV and many others. Yup, you guessed it, we're talking Missy Elliott and specifically her solo debut "Supa Dupa Fly". With Timbo by her side, recording and production started in 1996, and by 1997 we would see the release of this gem.  Missy was perfecting the commercial side of things and proving that there can be uniqueness and originality in the game amongst the mafioso-rap and gangster tales.

As underrated as this album is overall, hip hop fans need to recognize how impactful and groundbreaking it is, and for lack of a better term, that it is light years ahead of its time. We’ll get into that in a second, but the first thing to mention is that it is absolutely packed with featured artists and of course Missy's vocals. From her signature unique rapping to melodious singing, she gives us one of the best debuts in the entirety of the genre which earns it being called a masterpiece. Just to be extra clear, I love this album and every single track on it. None are skippable and they all merit a ton of replay, but seeing as though there’s 17 tracks, I’ll stick to talking about the very best ones.

I think the most significant thing about this album is the production and flawless incorporation of R&B into rap. Timbaland is to thank as he was the sole producer on this joint and since he was considered relatively new to the industry at the time, this album is also to thank for catapulting his career and making him one of the most sought after producers of the 90’s.

That takes us right into the intro which is appropriately titled “Busta’s Intro” because... well... it’s all him. What’s so great about this is really the beat. It’s our first exposure to what Timbaland has put together and its unparalleled. You’ll often hear the beats of this album having a semblance to “outer space”, and what we hear on this intro speaks exactly to that and THAT is where the groundbreaking part is. No one else was doing this, it was fresh, inventive and a huge risk at a time when grimy new york underground beats were rampant in production. And for those who believe Outkast started this with “ATLiens”, some could argue that this album served as the inspiration behind it which speaks to its impact.

The second track is one of my favorites, of course because it features Lil Kim. “Hit Em Wit Da Hee” is fun and sounds more like the familiar New York sounds that are so signature to Kim. There is a couple reasons why I love this song so much, first, Kim’s style is the rugged rap edge we want from a hip hop track, second, Missy showcases her singing to provide the vocals AND she raps the last verse. SO much variation in one song and it’s perfectly put together. Kim’s wordplay is on point as usual and Missy’s is just as dope, check these out:

“Me and my girl Missy gettin' pissy up in Bennigans/
Makin' all of you rappers begin again, like Fennigan/
Christians repent then sin again/Girls wanna be my friend again/”

“Duck, here comes the shot Bang Bang pllllllrrr!/
Drop, me and Timbaland like haaa we takin over blocks/
Like a one billion bitch march”

Of course, Timbaland created the beat so unlike the intro, this has a very obvious R&B tempo. From the rap to the singing, everything balances and Missy isn’t outshined. They really did a great job on this collabo.

Next track, we get Da Brat as the featured MC on “Sock It 2 Me” This was the second single released and did exceptionally well commercially (The music video is also one of the greatest of the time). Once again, this is another example of groundbreaking, when this beat dropped it sounded like nothing before it, although we would hear somewhat similar beats on Aaliyah’s “One In A Million” album, it has a bouncy dance-like rhythm. We get Da Brat’s rugged style against Missy’s smooth vocals and it works amazingly. At this point we are starting to see that Missy is a very well rounded artist. She knows exactly how to balance the track, make it a banger and not get outshined. She is truly a genius and this is a testament to that. Da Brat tells it how it is in the first line of her verse:

“Uh why Missy be sockin it to niggas like Ree-Ree/
The baddest industry bitches of the century/
Hit hard like penitentiary did, finally admitted/
That we the shit, combination on this lethal”

It’s such a fun song and a fantastic addition to this tracklist. The fourth song is another fan favorite “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” and there’s a lot going on in this song from the staggering of the chorus lines mixed with Timbaland's “uh huh” serves as the backdrop to Missy’s rapping. The entire song comes together very well and lyrically it’s fun, especially when she says:

“Beep beep, who got the keys to the Jeep? V-r-rrrrrrrooooom!/
(uh-huh) I'm drivin to the beach/
Top down, loud sounds, see my peeps/ (uhh)
Give them pounds, now look who it be /(who it be)
It be me me me and Timothy (me me!)/”

She has fun with it and in turn makes us have fun with it too. We are a third of the way through the album and this time we get 702 and Magoo as the features on “Beep Me 911". That tells me a couple things from the jump: 702 will bring a dope R&B sound to this and Magoo will be the perfect addition to Missy and with Timbo on production, it’s about to be executed very well, and it is. This is probably my least favorite on the album from a lyrical standpoint however as “Beep me 911, call me on my cell phone, I’ll call you back to see what you gon tell me...” is just so basic, and there’s nothing intricate lyrically. Everything else about it is dope though. I love the beat, I love 702 singing and of course Missy and Magoo rapping. I just can’t get into the content, but it’s a very well executed song. I still won’t skip the track, but I do have to point out that it’s the weakest in my opinion.

Missy makes up for it immediately after. We get hit with 3 tracks that have no features. “They Don’t Wanna Fuck Wit Me”, “Pass Da Blunt” and the first interlude “Bite Our Style”. I won’t spend too much time on these although I appreciate the intricacies and wordplay in “They Don’t Wanna Fuck Wit Me” as her delivery is on point, it’s entertaining and such a fun listen.

“Pass Da Blunt” is a bit funny to me because Missy sort of allows her feminine side to show a little with lines like “They mad cause I be flossin, Yeah this pussy costin, Tired and we tossin” and it’s a little explicit in comparison to what we’ve heard up to this point, but I do appreciate her comfortability with that. She’s tasteful with it and not too crude so it works.

Track 9 is “Friendly Skies” featuring Ginuwine, who was an R&B god in the 90’s. What impresses me about this song is that it’s incredibly slow. Timbaland went from space-y banger beats filled with a whole ton of bounce and head bopping rhythm to a beat that is comparable to a snail's pace. It’s that different. Now the other impressive thing is how Missy is able to literally slow her flow and delivery style to match Ginuwine perfectly. This is yet another testament to her talent and as great as Ginuwine is, he still doesn’t outshine her.

The tenth track is another one of my favorites. It features Aaliyah and it's called "Best Friends". The entire concept is sweet and the three of them together are like an unstoppable force. Aaliyah serves as the harmonizer (IMO), as her voice is silky, smooth and she sings at a much higher pitch than Missy so the contrast is incredible. Of course it sounds exactly like what we'd expect: the embodiment of R&B. I think having both Aaliyah and Ginuwine on this album was the perfect finishing touch to infuse the album with the '90's R&B touch. Both of them were superstars at the time and every track they were on turned out to be great. This one is no different. I also like that for two tracks in a row, we hear 100% vocals from Missy. She's incredibly talented and it's proven again right here.

I'm going to skip over "Don't Be Commin (In My Face)" and bring your attention to "Izzy Izzy Ahh", and this song is a fan favorite for all the right reasons. We get Missy rapping again! The lyrics are incredibly fun on this track because they're filled with made up words and what seem like random sounds, but she makes them work together in such an entertaining way. This plays into exactly why this album is so ahead of its time and inventive, no one was doing anything like this at the time. Not even Busta or ODB... Take a look at the chorus:

"Izzy Izzy ahh zizah zizah zizah/
Hard bitches be talkin' like they all rah rah/
Blizzy Blizzy blahzah blahzah blahzay/
None of y'all fools ain't got shit on me/"

What the heck does all that even mean? ...well it doesn't matter because it sounds dope, it works and it is these details coupled with Timbo's beats that make the entire album sound like "outer space". If there was a instrumental way to convey space, this track would be it. They nailed it. Perfectly.

We are nearing the end, at this point we are left with only 3 actual tracks and a couple outros. "Why You Hurt Me" is an important one, and this is another track we get both the singer and the rapper, as sge shares a very sad story about a friend she once had who turned tricks. Timbaland produces a somewhat "dark" sounding beat, which we hadn't heard up to this point, and it's not fun. Then we add Missy's word play and lyrics and her intended point is conveyed impeccably. The lyrics are pretty intense, as there's no glamorizing this lifestyle and there sure isn't any point that insinuates positivity. This would serve as the reality check to those in similar paths perhaps. When she says lines like these, we know Missy ain't playing:

"And if she wasn't teasing/
Then give me one reason/
Why she do that? Always knew that/
She was hot as the nectar/
Hector said he pecked her/ disrespected her/"

"Has she learned her lesson/
From all the dick testing/
Now I'm guessing/
She's laying in a casket/
In a yellow basket/
For a Gucci jacket/"

You get the idea and like I said, she's incredibly real and raw as she recounts this story. The track after is "I'm Talkin'" and Missy is right back to being fun loving and carefree. This is a great track, but specifically the very end when she lists off all the featured MC's. As slow as this track is, it still has a silly, chill and fun undertone. Missy has an incredible way of infusing her own personality in these tracks and this is a testament to that.

And the last track before the outros is "Gettaway", which is dope for the beatboxing and nonstop dizzying rhyme spitting Missy does. She raps at an incredible speed that we hadn't heard prior to this. She definitely knows how and when to use each one of her skills and she executes it perfectly. Also Timbaland's beat consistency is to be noted. He has not made a less than perfect beat on this entire album. These two are truly an unstoppable team and their dynamic is remarkable.

And as we approach the very end and hear Busta again, it's when I realize the album has a hint of cinematography to it. His intro served as the opening scene and let the entire thing play out and the outro serves as the "thank you for attending our production". It's interesting because it really was an enjoyable journey. Timbaland and Missy both made sure of that with the coherent, but varying beats and lyrical content.

This album, from beginning to end is truly a masterpiece. Missy made sure to have every relevant artist of the era on this album in one way or another. We were given a bigger glimpse of Timbaland, who would go on to produce for so many artists afterwards and the best part, Missy emerged to the limelight after being a genius behind so many other great albums. There aren't many artists who I would say are able to perfect so many aspects of music but Missy truly does. She is an incredible, multifaceted artist who epitomizes talent. She has earned her rank as one of the best in many categories and hip hop is better for having her contributions. This album is most definitely a classic.



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