In Lizzo’s latest video for “Tempo,” the omnipresent pop-rap It-girl transforms a sleepy diner parking lot into the fiercest party on earth. There’s epic twerking, bouncing hydraulic cars and a bold body-positive message of self-love.
But when hip-hop legend Missy Elliott, sporting a silk tracksuit and a chain that conspicuously reads ICON, suddenly leaps out of the hood of a car, things get downright surreal.
For Andy Hines, who directed the bass-thumping clip, it was a head-spinning moment to witness.
“I was pretty overwhelmed,” Hines tells The Post. “Missy’s work in both music and the visual arts has influenced and changed pop culture greatly over the past 20 years. People are still trying to emulate what she has done, but you cannot re-create it … she is one of a kind.”
After completely upending the music industry with her landmark 1997 solo debut “Supa Dupa Fly” and selling 30 million records, Elliott is back in the spotlight after spending more than a decade largely out of the public eye.
On Friday morning, Elliott shocked fans by dropping her first collection of new material since 2005’s “The Cookbook.” The five-track EP entitled “ICONOLOGY” jumps from electro dance to trap music to vintage soul.
But it’s the song and video for “Throw It Back” that is garnering the most buzz. It’s classic, left-field Missy, although it also features a rare boast from the usually humble Elliott, who will receive the Video Vanguard Award — a first for a female emcee — at Monday night’s 2019 MTV Video Music Awards: “So many VMAs that I could live on the moon.”
“This is the first time that Missy has stepped forward on record and said, ‘Yes, I am an innovator … a trailblazer,’ ” Kathy Iandoli, author of the upcoming book “God Save The Queens: The Essential History of Women in Hip-Hop,” tells The Post. “And that’s important. Because the average listener may not have been of age when Missy’s first album came out. They weren’t even born.”
Ever since her memorable, trippy first video for “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” — a track that captured the eccentric emcee’s oddball genius on every level, from its esoteric lyrics to the ghost-in-the-machine beats from longtime collaborator Timbaland — Elliott’s been raising the cinematic bar for hits such as “Sock It 2 Me,” “Get Ur Freak On” and “She’s a Bitch.”
And it looks like the music biz is finally catching up to the otherworldly talent. Last June, Elliott became the first female rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, a tip of the hat to an artist who’s penned and produced tracks for everyone from Aaliyah and Mariah Carey to Ciara and Beyoncé.
“It’s about time,” says Meelah Williams, the former lead singer of the platinum girl group 702, whose biggest hits were frequently Elliott collaborations. “Both of those awards represent equal rights for women in the music industry.”
Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is: Why did it take Elliott 14 years to release another official collection of music? Last November, the rapper-singer posted a video with her longtime Grammy-winning partner in what looked to be a marathon recording session. “Me & Timbaland last night [in the studio] cooking,” she wrote.
Still, hopes of another album had been dashed before.
In 2008, Elliott released “Ching-a-Ling,” a single featured on the “Step Up 2 the Streets” soundtrack, but plans for a follow-up album entitled “Block Party” were scrapped. After Elliott announced that she was battling Graves’ disease in 2011, an autoimmune thyroid illness that causes severe tremors, she leaked the one-off tracks “9th Inning” and “Triple Threat” to further test the waters.
Her show-stealing surprise appearance during Katy Perry’s 2015 Super Bowl XLIX halftime show gave followers hope that she was finally ready to make an official return. But even after the well-received collaboration “WTF (Where They From)” with super-producer Pharrell Williams, there was still no album.
So what was going on behind the scenes? According to insiders, Elliott was just being her frustratingly meticulous self.
“Missy will play you the hottest song and you will be so hype and then she won’t put it out,” said 702’s Williams, who most recently worked with Elliott in 2014. “You will be looking at her like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ But Missy is a perfectionist. She wants the best results.”
Today, Elliott, who survived a turbulent childhood and witnessed her father physically abuse her beloved mother Patricia, finds herself back in a scene where female hip-hop has never been more diverse or more powerful.
But Iandoli says don’t count out one of the genre’s most influential visionaries as a competitor. “People want Missy to win,” she says. “She was always two decades ahead of her time.”
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