Missy Elliott was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, on July 1, 1971. Elliott worked as a songwriter and producer before getting her own record label. Her inventive style and ability to transcend hip-hop’s ideas about women gave her five platinum albums in a row—including her debut album, Supa Dupa Fly—and numerous honors, including five Grammy Awards. With success as a performer, songwriter and producer, Elliott became hip-hop’s first female mogul.
She formed a group, Sista, that was signed to Swing Mob Records in 1991. Unfortunately, financial problems meant that Sista’s album was not released. After the group split up, Elliott and her friend Timbaland started writing and producing songs, including hits for their friend Aaliyah.
Although her appearance didn’t match ideas about female beauty in the male-centric world of hip-hop, Elliott got the chance to form her own label, The Goldmind, Inc., at Elektra Records. Her first album, Supa Dupa Fly (1997), went platinum and earned Elliott the designation of rap artist of the year from Rolling Stone. Her next two albums also went platinum. Elliott’s 2002 album, Under Construction, set sales records for a female-headed rap album, selling 2.1 million copies in the United States.
Elliott won two Grammy Awards in 2002, one of which was for her song “Get Ur Freak On.” She went on to win Grammys for the songs “Scream a.k.a. Itchin'” and “Work It.” Her music video for “Lose Control” also won a Grammy Award. Along with her Grammys, Elliott has received American Music Awards, multiple BET Awards for best female hip-hop artist and several MTV Video Awards for her inventive, eye-catching music videos.