On Fourth of July weekend of 2019—back when we could all congregate freely and gather en masse without fear, a handful of The Root’s staffers had a collective out-of-body experience at the New Orleans Superdome. Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott was headlining the Essence Festival of Music and Culture’s 25th anniversary—and she hadn’t missed a beat since arriving on the scene over 20 years before.
In fact, 2019 was a year full of long-overdue recognition of one of the most groundbreaking artists in hip-hop; that year Missy was honored with an MTV Video Vanguard Award, awarded an honorary doctorate, and became the first female hip-hop artist to be inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. Two years later, the icon is celebrating another milestone—Missy turns 50 today, July 1, 2021!
In honor of her half-century mark, colleagues and fans alike have been paying tribute to this “Supa-Dupa-Fly” force to be reckoned with, posting tributes and fond memories to remind us exactly why Miss E remains...so addictive.
Here are a few of our faves:
For instance, who can forget Missy’s finger-wave phase? She was the epitome of late-90's b-girl style—the “b” standing for “big ambition.”
Flexing her prowess behind the scenes as well as on the mic, who can forget that Missy was also the nurturing force behind the development of artists like Aaliyah, Ciara and Tweet?
In fact, woman-power has always been at the core of Missy’s brand. Just check this unfiltered moment where she explains to Dazed magazine her logic behind the naming of her single “She’s a Bitch.”
Missy was also never to been fucked with, as evidenced by a now-classic Punk’d clip in which a jeweler pretended to have lost Missy’s jewelry. The moment she climbs atop the stool? That’s the moment we knew they better come up with her chains.
Always giving body as well as face, Missy also leaned into her earned status as an always “Funky, Fresh, Dressed” style icon, becoming a much-needed representative and role model for big-bodied, brown-skinned beauty.
And really, who moves like Missy?
Of course, all this rightful Missy worship begs the inevitable question: Why, on Missy’s 50th, are we not getting a Missy Verzuz, a la D’Angelo and Friends, instead of tonight’s Bobby Brown/Keith Sweat face-off? (No shade, but they could wait.) As the icon remains one of Verzuz co-founder Timbaland’s nearest and dearest, both her longtime collaborator and the Verzuz account of course shouted her out—and noted the ongoing demand. Seriously—This Is Not a Test!
Still no word on when you’ll be able to “Get Ur Freak On” to a Missy Verzuz extravaganza, but while we wait, Happy 50th to this indelible symbol of Iconology!