Black Nerd Profile #1 – Missy Elliot

Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott’

Global Superstar. Black fat magic. Big girl goals. Virginia born and raised.

Melissa Arnette Elliott was born on July 1, 1971, in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Known mostly for her hits being in steady rotation through the mid-90s and early 2000s. She recently came into resurgence due to halftime show along Katy Perry. She’s a frequent collaborator with Tim “Timbaland” Mosley, Aaliyah, and more. As a record producer and songwriter, she has crafted hits from everyone from Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Christina Aguilera, and Beyoncé. As well as the like of R&B artists Keyshia Cole, Tamia, Monica, and Ciara.

Yet Missy is so much more than. She’s a supernova, Hip-hop national treasure you name it.

Missy Elliott was everything to me growing up as a black fat girl. Each day I entered school berated. Something about my too big nose, my smallish eyes, or belly.

I was “chunky”.


“ I talked white”.

I hated going to school, I was such an easy target. The boys wanted girls that didn’t look like me. The girls of high caliber with the silky weaves, designer clothes, and lighter skin. It was often too much for elementary and middle school me to handle. Almost every show had a dark skinned woman as a nag with the exception of Brandy as Moesha Yet one thing that was constant despite the new compound insults hurled at me my love for Missy Elliott. I fell in love with Missy Elliott around an age of six, after hearing my momma blare “ I can’t stand the rain” on the radio of her station wagon. Everywhere we went that summer was heard it. I lived in Virginia Beach during that time so she was a home *town hero Then seeing who this mystery woman was after seeing her on tv, adorned in a trash bag. Over gelled hair popular at the time, eyes shielded by sunglasses, she was literally larger than life and that when the love affair began. Since then every video she appeared in always amazed me. Even before I formed my feminist beliefs in my elementary understanding of the world, I knew she stood for girl power. With videos such as “Ladies night”, “Lady Marmalade”, and “No matter what people say”. Missy loved not only herself but her peers too In what seems like a relic of yesteryear, now found by a quick search engine. I remember Missy gracing magazine covers, making cameos on sitcoms, I am saddened by the lack of Missy Presence but hope that the next generation is introduced to her music either by chance or curiosity.

The first Missy Elliott album I officially owned was Under Constructionreleased shortly after the untimely deaths of her two closest friends Aaliyah and Left eye. Under Construction was my favorite album I carried it everywhere in my cd player. I even convinced my momma to buy me several Kangol hats and velour track suit that year. Even it was knock-off Missy Elliot gave me the confidence I needed to survive in an environment that told me over and over again that I wasn’t supposed to be happy. Missy Elliot though not the only fat black woman I saw in media, she was the most authentic. Missy was so unapologetic, she was quirky, sexy, and tomboyish. She was Air Forces Ones, she was double dutch anthem on a playground, she gold name earrings. She was a hood nerd. Unafraid to create her vision of hyper-femme cyberpunk realities seen in “She’s a bitch”, “Supa Dupa Fly”, and “Sock it to me” Missy Elliot tracks have even been featured in 2001 Tomb Raider soundtrack to the film, her polished beats are otherworldly.

Her ear for talent was an Olympian, supporting sought after groups and artists like Total, 702, Tweet. Like Missy, all her protege commanded respect, talked about their desires openly and freely. As I became coming into my own, the dance tracks that bumped on the regular I became hip to the messages she preached from sex positivity, financial independence, and positive body image.

Missy Elliot while an accomplished craftsman is also a fashion icon, she had a MAC line “VIVA LA GLAM” alongside Lil Kim and Mary J. Blige in 2004. Missy Elliot was a woman who like her associates of the time, choose what she wore, often mixing Men’s wear, lipliner, and short pixies in the 90s to the luscious weaved under fitted baseball caps. Missy even had her own line. She by that is hip-hop’s first female mogul, she had her own record label The Goldmind, Inc., at Elektra Records.

Elliott has won multiple Grammy Awards in 2002, Elliott has received American Music Awards, multiple BET Awards l MTV Video Awards. In honest there’s not enough love given to Missy Elliot but you can thank fatphobia, colorism, and other facts for that.

If it wasn’t Missy’s ground work we wouldn’t have the massive success of Nicki Minaj, the persona rap of Azealia Banks, and the visionary style of Princess Nokia. Thank you, Missy, for your contributions to Black Nerd History.

Author: Brittney Maddox

Editor: Han Angus

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Keshav Kant, aka Mx. KantEven, is a med student tuned Executive Director of Off Colour!

You’ve probably seen her on Twitter and TikTok, both @MxKantEven, or caught her work on Off Colour's many channels.

From consulting on films & shows, manuscript review, conducting interviews, or hosting podcasts & panels, if there is some way to bring sensitivity and authenticity to diversity, inclusion and equity conversations, Keshav will be there.

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