Missy Elliott on Writing For Aaliyah, Beyonce and Herself

The nominee for the 2019 Songwriters Hall of Fame discusses her songwriting profession.

Missy Elliott, who has a historical past of writing and producing a few of pop music’s most inventive and catchy songs, breaks down a few of the hits she’s written for herself and different stars. Elliott is among the nominees for the 2019 Songwriters Hall of Fame.



Aaliyah had been coming off the most important success of her 1994 debut album, the R. Kelly-produced Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number, when newcomers Missy Elliott and Timbaland had been known as in to work on ONE track with the R&B goddess.   

But one track become eight, and “One In a Million” — the track and the album — was born.

“I used to be scared. I don’t know if Tim was scared once we first performed it as a result of it was a unique sound. It was a unique technique to assault data as a result of folks had been actually singing then; that world of rap-singing didn’t actually exist,” Elliott defined. “Because I wasn’t actually a singer like that, that’s why I wrote like that, as a result of I used to be a rapper, however I didn’t know methods to do a bunch of runs, so each report that I might assault, I might assault it like I’m rap-singing it.”

But Aaliyah liked the track and appreciated Elliott and Timbaland’s distinctive fashion.

“She had an ear and he or she knew what that music made her really feel like. She was subsequent degree to know that that is some subsequent degree (music). This is not only the sound that’s occurring proper now — this can be a new sound that's being created. This entire motion is new,” Elliott stated.

Elliott and Timbaland would go to kind a particular bond with Aaliyah that was unmatched — as heard on “One In a Million” and its follow-up Aaliyah, launched a month earlier than Aaliyah died in 2001.

Elliott says though “One In a Million” topped the R&B charts, radio didn’t need to play the track at first.

″(Radio) stated they couldn’t mix it in, they couldn’t combine it in with data earlier than it or after it as a result of the cadence hadn’t been carried out earlier than,” she stated. “And so in some way, I believe her uncle spoke to some folks and so they find yourself enjoying it. I do know (Funkmaster) Flex was one of many first folks to interrupt that report in New York. ...It was a headache at first.”


MISSY ELLIOTT that includes NAS, EVE and Q-TIP, “Hot Boyz”

Another track Elliott stated radio didn’t need to play was “Hot Boyz.”

That could sound like a shock since “Hot Boyz” set a report when it spent 18 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s rap songs chart. And since 1999, Drake and Iggy Azalea have been capable of match the feat, however nobody has outlasted Elliott’s hit.

“I bear in mind one of many stations in L.A. was the primary to drag it,” she stated. “And one thing occurred, I can’t let you know what occurred, however no matter occurred, it ended up again on the stations ... and it ended up within the Guinness Book of World Records.”

The upbeat, hard-hitting track, which featured rappers Nas, Eve and Q-Tip, was one Elliott needed to create not just for her die-hard feminine followers, however her male followers, too.

“I would like guys to really feel like they might experience round and take heed to this as a result of the beat was so exhausting. This beat really feel like all of the male rappers would need to get on this joint proper right here,” she stated.



702′s “Where My Girls At?” reached No. four on the Hot 100 chart in 1999, however Elliott stated she initially wrote the anthem for TLC.

“Lisa (“Left Eye” Lopes) actually needed it, she actually needed that report, however I assume, if it’s two in opposition to one (what are you able to do?)” So I ended up giving that report to 702, which was cool as a result of they had been a gaggle. I knew whoever had it, I needed it to be going to a gaggle.”

Of the largest songs of 1999, “Where My Girls At?” was ranked No. 11 by Billboard. Elliott stated she needed girls to really feel empowered once they heard the enjoyable monitor.

“It’s nearly like church — whenever you go to church, pastor is saying one thing (and also you’re) like, ‘I swear up and down that message is for me.’ I needed to create one thing girls may really feel like, ‘I may relate to this report.’”



Elliott’s debut single, “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” goes down in historical past as one of the vital inventive, distinctive and spectacular songs of all-time.

But Elliott stated she created the track — and her first album — in an settlement to get her personal label so she may signal artists and produce for them.

“Of course, these had been my smoke days, you'll be able to inform by the primary line. I simply went in and I simply stated no matter I felt. Back then, there was no expectation, so it wasn’t like I needed to actually suppose and say, ’OK, I've to make one thing higher than what I did the final time. This was my first time stepping into, so it was like, regardless of the music made me really feel, I stated it,” she stated.

Elliott and Timbaland completed her platinum-selling album, launched in 1997, in simply two weeks.

“That’s how fast I needed to rush up and get my label deal. I might do songs 5 songs a day, so it was nothing. This was earlier than folks even knew who I used to be,” she stated.



Elliott knew Destiny’s Child can be massive earlier than they blew up.

She labored on the track “Confessions,” from the group’s sophomore album The Writing’s on the Wall, which gave them their pop star breakthrough.

“They all had one thing particular. And Beyonce, she knew precisely methods to assault a report,” Elliott stated. “When I heard Bey singing the verses, I used to be like, ‘Oh they finna go far.’”

The groovy track, a couple of lady dishonest on her accomplice and confessing the reality, was one Elliott wrote particularly for the group after they reached out to work collectively.

“And it’s humorous after I suppose again on it since you not often get girls having to admit. It’s all the time the man who finally ends up having to admit,” Elliott stated. “That was a unique form of twist for a feminine to be like, ‘Look, I mainly kicked it with Mike whenever you was gone, this went down and that went down.’”



After Elliott created a lot of the music for her third album, “Miss E... So Addictive,” she felt like she was lacking one thing. But Timbaland felt she was overanalyzing the scenario.

“By this time, he’s aggravated. He simply occurred to be in entrance of the keyboard and he begins simply urgent the buttons on the keyboard however he when was doing it, he was mad,” she recalled. “He begins to create round this sound.”

It kicked off the sound for what later turned “Get Ur Freak On,” the album’s first single and a monster hit for Elliott. It received one of the best rap solo efficiency Grammy, beating out Jay-Z, DMX and Nelly.

“I’m all the time a headache to Timbaland. He has to take holidays after we’re carried out with my album as a result of I stress him out,” she stated.

The eye-popping music video matched the track’s wild vitality and even featured cameos by Ludacris, LL Cool J, Eve, Busta Rhymes, Master P, Ja Rule and the late Nate Dogg.

“I miss these days. ...there was a time the place you didn’t need to be a function on the report, you simply help,” she stated. “I attempted to collect if folks had been on the town like, ‘Hey, come via’ and so they all the time confirmed up. I’m humbled by that.”


CIARA that includes MISSY ELLIOTT, “1, 2 STEP”

Missy Elliott hadn’t even met Ciara when she created “1, 2 Step” for the star.

Elliott was busy working her personal music and hadn’t heard Ciara’s debut hit, “Goodies,” when she was requested to jot down a track for the budding singer.

“Back then folks weren’t actually sing-rapping. Now that’s the factor. But I needed it to be the place she nonetheless form of rap-sings it. It allowed her to have the ability to dance, so she’s not sitting there making an attempt to do all these runs and sing and all that stuff, as a result of you'll be able to’t actually get off whenever you making an attempt to sing and then you definitely making an attempt to do the entire matrix factor going backward,” she stated, referring to Ciara’s expert dancing.

They lastly met on the set of “1, 2 Step,” Ciara’s second single which reached No. 2 on the Hot 100 chart. It turned the fifth most profitable track of 2005.

The two went to collaborate on extra songs, even successful a Grammy collectively for “Lose Control.”

“When you might have that form of chemistry, you’re going to all the time work collectively,” Elliott stated.



The hook of Elliott’s “Work It” contains a well-known line the place the lyrics are performed in reverse.

She stated it was a cheerful accident.

“The reverse factor, that was a mistake. The engineer occurred to hit one thing, and it simply went backward, and I used to be like, ’Oh that’s form of loopy as a result of it went backward on the beat. So, after that occurred, I stated, ‘Yo, preserve that in there and I’m going to jot down round it.’”

The web in 2002 went loopy — in at the moment’s world it could have been a viral second — as followers tried to determine what Elliott was saying within the track. Some thought it was a secret code or message. “They thought I used to be saying every kind of nasty stuff,” she stated. “No, truly, I’m not, this time.”

“Work It” was the primary single from Elliott’s fourth album, Under Construction, which earned a Grammy nomination for album of the yr. She stated Timbaland actually challenged her to jot down one thing nice on “Work It.”

“I don’t report in entrance of anybody, so I went in one other room and recorded, and I felt like a little bit child going to their daddy with their report card. About the fifth time, he’s like, ‘That’s it. That’s what I’m speaking about.’”

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