DAR Legends: Missy Elliott and Timbaland

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal
-One of the greatest female rappers ever. One of the greatest producers ever. Together, they make one of the best combinations that our music has ever heard. Timbaland. Missy Elliott. Together and separately, these two have etched a legacy that cannot be denied or slept on. Both hail from Virginia and have vital roles in the changing of music and the sound during the 90s. Missy is probably the most interesting of all the female rappers that hit the mainstream, as her ability to reinvent herself is amazing on many levels. She showcased talent, an eccentric vibe, as well as enjoyable albums. While Missy alone was something special, her best work came from being beside Timbaland.

For Timbaland, the work he's done without Missy is solidified as well, but the reality is they made their best work together. Timbaland produced a number of records for artists that Missy had a hand in writing. Truthfully, it was a formula that we had seen before with Jermaine Dupri and Da Brat, but it worked more for Timbaland and Missy in terms of creativity. Today, we wanted to take a look at Timbaland and Missy together, as their greatest period of music came when they worked together frequently. Though they don't work together as prominently anymore, their time together gave us a lot of hits and classics through 1996-2003. Let's get into it.

Obviously, we’re all familiar with duos in hip hop, that goes without saying. However, there are those MC’s/producers who are great individually but also collaborate with one specific person so often that we tend to consider them as duos. There aren’t that many that we remember as legendary, but this goes way back. In the early 90’s, there was Snoop and Dr. Dre. Some time after that, Method Man & Redman. And of course, our topics of discussion today, Timbaland and Missy Elliott.

For Missy and Timbo, their dynamic and chemistry was undeniable, as they were neighborhood friends and had always been involved in music. For those of us who are familiar with the beginnings, we know that Missy was firstly a singer/songwriter who was part of an R&B group and she recruited Timbaland as the producer. Personally, for me I wasn’t familiar with either of them at that time, and it wouldn’t be until the Dangerous Minds soundtrack dropped with “It’s Alright” that I would hear Missy and Timbaland on production. The song was just okay to say the least, as it wasn’t memorable and Craig Mack being a feature was the only thing that really stood out to me.  So where does the brilliance and amazingness of Missy and Timbo come in? SWV, 702, and of course Aaliyah! Missy got involved in the production side of things as well and together, they were unstoppable. 

They helped 2 solid R&B groups (SWV and 702) and created a superstar and R&B powerhouse out of Aaliyah (One In A Million was far more successful than her R. Kelly produced debut). It was the range of beats, from bouncy and fun to slow and smooth that complemented the artists so well. It seemed like everything Missy and Timbaland did ended up on top lists and favorite lists everywhere. 

It didn’t take long before Missy Elliott and Timbaland became “household names”. They maintained a long run in the industry, they collaborated with several artists and it seemed every track they produced was gold but it was more than that. Both Missy and Timbo have hopped on some pretty dope tracks as well as their own projects. Missy’s “Supa Dupa Fly” album (which is one of my favorites) and of course Timbaland’s “Tim’s Bio: Life from the Bassment” are similar to each other in that they’re feature HEAVY but amazing nevertheless. Missy was ahead of her time with the sounds on her album and of course Timbaland was the same, as these two probably have the most signature sounds and recognizable beats. 

Both Missy and Timbaland’s contributions in both rap and R&B are notable. They are responsible for some of our favorite albums, songs and have helped catapult so many artist’s careers. They have shown their talents in every aspect of music and proved themselves to be versatile. Whether as an unofficial duo or as solo artists, these two have given us some great works in R&B/hip hop and will always remain on favorite lists! 

Timbaland and Missy, the dynamic duo who made a name for themselves behind the beats, behind the pen, and in front of or behind the mic. Hailing out of Virginia, they were a force to be reckoned with. Just as VA is right between New York and the south, Missy and Tim were the medium between the East Coast boom bap & the Dirty South sound that was slowed down just enough for dope 16s, but busy enough for you to bounce to. This also applied to their R&B production style, as no matter the tempo, the beat kept a bounce element to it with patterns of drums never heard before. We all came to know them for their work crafting Aaliyah's One In A Million album where they did a superb job writing and producing. Afterwards, their musical reign began.

Missy is who you aim to work with when you need a dope hit single written & produced for you. Just her adlibs alone will help your song. She has been heavily involved in the beginning stages of careers like Jodeci, Mary J, Total, SWV, 702, Nicole Wray, Tweet, Beyonce, and Ciara. When you want a sure fire hit, others have called on Missy as well. Legends such as Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Madonna, and Monica to newer names like Keyshia Cole and Jazmine Sullivan have all enlisted Missy and her skills. Timbaland is who you aim to work with when you need a new sound that's going against what the popular at the moment or if you're trying to switch genres and reinvent yourself musically.  He'll force you to take chances like he did with Justin Timberlake, Nelly Furtado, and One Republic. Like Missy, his adlibs and his beatboxing alone on your song will captivate the listener's ear. Missy has always put out solo hits but she's also worked with the most talented rappers in their primes on her albums like Lil Kim, Busta Rhymes, Da Brat, Nas, Jay-Z, Fabolous, Eminem, Big Boi, Redman, Eve, Ludacris, 50 Cent, Method Man, and Ghostface. She would either rap on the track or differ and lay her singing vocals on the track or give us a mix of both, and it always seemed to work.

Timbaland has worked with most of those mentioned and many more. He's changed careers for artists when they were disappearing, kept some of them afloat and gave some hits that lasted a summer, but they couldn't sustain afterwards. Timbo is definitely in my top 10 producers of all time. I can't even judge Missy as just a rapper, she's a singer, writer, producer, still holds the crown for most creative videos and she keeps it hip hop. I remember I would watch "The Rain" video so many times (had it recorded on VHS). She's the highest selling female rap artist for a reason and it has nothing to do with putting on a facade or gimmick. I'll confidently place her as a top 5 most talented and well rounded artist. Even though​ they're impactful and important, these two are never looked at it as "game changing" or "trendsetting", simply because they don't have a bunch of copycats, but that made them unique. Their style is so eclectic and noticeable that it can't be copied without being obvious which keeps their sound unsaturated unlike the many production trends of today. Missy and Timbo have over 20 years in the game creating, innovating, rule & record breaking, true legends.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
-For me, my favorite work that Missy and Timbaland did together comes in the form of their work on R&B albums. The work they put together for SWV, 702, Total, Aaliyah, Tweet, Nicole Wray, and even Ginuwine was something special in that era. Even if Timbaland didn't actually produce a song that Missy was on, in their heyday, you can still feel his presence on the track. That is a testament to how much they worked together and how their styles were so important to each other. It was a family that they built with Playa, Ginuwine, Magoo, and Aaliyah all in the fold, but the centerpieces of that family were easily Missy and Tim. Through the late 90s, there was no other duo more important than Missy and Timbaland. Still, as much i enjoyed their work together for others, it's the four album stretch from Missy where Timbaland produced the entirety of each project that really stands out for me.

Supa Dupa Fly is a landmark debut album in music and should be appreciated as such. Missy provided the rhymes, the hooks, and the vocals while Timbaland laid the musical foundation and the result is a classic. Her slept on sophomore album Da Real World saw Timbaland revamp his sound some, and Missy took a slightly different approach on this album than her debut. It was a more hard hitting and aggressive project, and showcased that Missy and Tim couldn't be boxed in by one style or one sound. 

Her third album was yet another challenge for both her and Tim to create something different, and as soon as we heard tracks like "Lick Shots" and the classic "Get Ur Freak On", we knew that Missy and Tim had something special. On tracks like "One Minute Man", "Old School Joint", and the R&B classic "Take Away", Missy and Tim crafted songs that all sounded different and made them work cohesively. Her third album Miss-E... So Addictive is extremely slept on and a great listen, and it is yet another example of how great Missy and Tim were together. Without question.
In 2002, the last real album that captured the greatness of Tim and Missy togerher was released. Under Construction isn't my favorite Missy album, but the risks that she and Tim took on the project are still interesting to me. It's hard to describe the sound, and it's really impossible to pinpoint a name for said style, but Missy and Tim gave us classics like "Gossip Folks" and "Work It", both of which feature varying dizzying rhythms and styles. That formula worked so well for them that they tried it again on the next album, This Is Not A Test, which wasn't as successful, but still is a good listen that shows that Tim and Missy still had the chemistry working. The Cookbook, the last real Missy album featured Timbaland production, but not on the whole album, bringing their run to an effective end.

Still, their run lasted from 1996 to 2003, and has to be one of the most consistent runs in music history. Everything they touched during this time turned to gold and musically they always managed to reinvent themselves. Timbaland has maintained his relevance through his production for stars like Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z, but the truth is, his greatest period in music came with Missy right by his side. They are legends apart and together, but nothing compared to their run together. Missy and Timbaland are undeniable legends. Period.



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