In 1997, the world was introduced to Missy Elliott by way of her dynamite debut, Supa Dupa Fly. This energetic inauguration was bolstered by the title track’s music video plus several more popular songs and clips, all of which cemented a now well-known brand of refreshingly off-kilter energy. When everyone zigged, Missy zagged, and this change of pace made her a bona fide star. However, her second studio album, 1999’s Da Real World, seemingly fell by the wayside. Though it was not without hit singles like “She’s A Bitch” and “Hot Boyz,” Missy believed that her sophomore effort “could have done a lot better.” (The lukewarm reaction could possibly be due to the shift of mainstream attention to other female rappers at the time, as Foxy Brown and Eve both released chart-topping albums that same year.) So with her next offering, Missy went to work, making sure she was seen, heard, and felt like never before. Enter here, Miss E… So Addictive.
Released May 15, 2001, the 16-track effort solidified the Virginia-reppin’ artist as an artistic force to be reckoned with. The multi-hyphenate once again teamed up with fellow VA native Timbaland for the platinum-selling LP, which implements the best of many musical worlds. As she declares on the “So Addictive (Intro),” “Me and Timbaland gonna give ya shit ya never heard before,” and they don’t disappoint. Miss E shows Misdemeanor’s across-the-board influences and Tim’s arsenal of universally attractive sounds, proving why the talented twosome led the front of rap’s experimental wave.
Tim ditches the robo-heavy rhythms found on Missy’s first two albums for a new palette of internationally alluring sonics, like bedroom-ready R&B (the Ginuwine collab “Take Away”) and Caribbean-spiced vibes (“Watcha Gonna Do”). Far East inspiration catapults the one-two punch of “Lick Shots” and the bhangra-inspired “Get Ur Freak On” to new heights, while the funky, Method Man and Redman-assisted “Dog In Heat” and skating rink-ready “Old School Joint” blend throwback stylings with new school flavor, resulting in influential, turn-of-the-century hip-hop that few producer-artist teams have emulated or surpassed.
Aside from impressively crafted instrumentals, Miss E harps heavily on themes of reciprocal sex and female pleasure, subjects Missy hasn’t dodged in the decades since. (Moment of appreciation for the “elephant trunk” reference in “Work It” and the choral coital coos of “Pass That Dutch.”) For one of the first times on wax, Missy’s animated side takes a slight backseat during Miss E in order to showcase her human side’s physical wants and needs.
From teasing a euphoric, romance-filled evening in the R&B jam “X-Tasy” to affirming her role in a hot and heavy night during the Grammy-winning “Scream AKA Itchin’” (“Lay on the bed he follow, bone him until to-morrah, Make him sing high sopran-ah”), Missy uses her sexuality as empowerment. The project’s features also show the dichotomy of how female MCs, in particular, wield their sensuality; while her verse is not in the album version of “One Minute Man,” Trina’s deliciously raunchy rhymes in its music video further display women’s craving for physical intimacy, and how the vocality and visibility of those desires are equal parts authoritative and arousing. (Additionally, Missy’s alliances with Eve, Da Brat, and Missy proteges Lil Mo and Tweet on Miss E continue her career’s crusade towards stronger camaraderie and tolerance between women in music, an effort which culminated in the 2001 Grammy-winning revamp of “Lady Marmalade,” which Missy produced and co-wrote.)
What else is “so addictive” about Miss E? It’s that it’s undeniably Missy. She takes permanent ink to the project and its corresponding content and definitively underlines her individuality and multidimensionality. “One Minute Man” is as bold and slinky as it is colorful, while the unconventional approach to crafting “Get Ur Freak On” both sonically and visually allowed Missy to let her freak flag fly high, ultimately changing the cultural tides. She also sings in pockets of the LP; while she’s no Mariah, she’s no one-trick pony either, and tying in her love of hip-hop and R&B adds another hint of je ne sais quoi to her recipe.
Missy told VIBE shortly before the release of the album, “I just wanted to cross the border with [Miss E… So Addictive]… I wanted to do what everybody else is scared to do.” That goal was hit, as Keith Harris wrote for Blender that “Missy’s inner bitch is back, but she has grown into her lusty swagger,” and The Guardian’s Alexis Petridis said the “brilliantly realized” project “is further evidence of Elliott’s… desire to change the rules entirely. It’s an album that sets its own agenda and sounds like nothing else in hip-hop: an incomparable achievement.”
While fans are eager for more musical offerings and collaborations from the artist who knows she’s “the best around with the crazy style,” Missy continues to receive her flowers as a trailblazing musician. In 2019, she received her honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music, and became the first female hip-hop artist inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame that same year. “[Missy taught us to] own our truth and share it with the world,” Michelle Obama said in a video message at the ceremony, while collaborator Lizzo said “[she] wouldn’t be here” without Missy. Upon rewarding the icon with her overdue Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards, Cardi B stated, “Missy has inspired countless young women to find their own voice and stand up for themselves… She’s a voice we need.”
Thanks to declarations of her unabashed, untouchable originality, energetic displays of sexual prowess and femininity, and game-changing beats supplied by her go-to guy Timothy Mosley, Miss E… So Addictive finds Missy Elliott taking ownership of herself and the differences she brought to the table. Instead of staying in the lines, she honed in on her knack for coloring outside of them. Through all aspects of her work, she shows the importance of being comfortable in the skin you’re in, and this album in particular proves that Missy Elliott is perfectly fine with being crazy, kooky, mysterious, spooky, and eons ahead of her time.
Missy Elliott is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.