A few weeks back, someone asked me to write about a woman that I admired deeply. She gave examples like Oprah, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. I thought to myself… “ahhh, this reader knows me well, she nailed my top three.” So in the spirit of throwing a curve ball I decided to reveal one of my more unlikely heroines and show y’all how I roll. Can I get a WOOT WOOT for Missy Elliot!!!
I couldn’t write this post without taking a moment to say RIP to Aaliyah Haugton. This year marks the 12th anniversary of her death. Given her connection to Missy, not to mention my being a huge fan of the songbird myself, I just HAD to offer some acknowledgement of our loss.
So back in the day, I had a chance to see Gina Thompson perform live here in Atlanta, and I met Missy face to face. We chatted a bit, and everyone else seemed to know who she was, but not me. Honestly, had no idea who she was, but I asked her for her autograph all the same, just in case she turned out to be “somebody”. She just chuckled at me and signed my paper (which I lost on the way home somewhere – UGH!!). I know, I know — my friends be like “Gurl, you STAY clueless?!” I hear you judging me *giggles*. When I found out later that this “Missy” was the “hee hee hee hee haw” on the track Gina performed that night, I could have kicked myself. But I will NEVER forget how kind and gracious she was (even though she was quiet). I think that night planted a seed for me that has grown into a tree of admiration for the hip-hop legend.
You see, I’ve come to not only like Missy as an artist, but to respect her as a person. Now I’m not professing to know her like that, but I can say that I really like the parts of her that she has shared with the public. I see so much of my own life and struggle aligned with hers. I totally understood her struggle with the superficial boundaries that threatened to derail her iconic success. But nonetheless, she became a household name. Not to mention the abuse she survived as a child — Hey DJ!!! Queue the Destiny’s Child “Survivor” track please!
Let’s take a look at her career alone. It’s no secret that women who have dark skin or weight challenges have traditionally been kept behind the scenes in entertainment. And after baby was shoved in a corner for years (Dirty Dancing reference), I was happy to see my girl shine. Y’all can say what you want to about Sean “Puffy Daddy” / “P. Diddy” Combs, I have to give him credit for putting Missy on front street and allowing her to “hit us with the hee”. That was DEFINITELY a genius move on his part.
And have yall seen that chick cut a rug? I’m not scared to tell y’all that I don’t mind busting a move on the dance floor. Shux, my “cabbage patch” may be a bit rusty, but I can still “walk-it-out” with the best of them. So when I see Missy E. killing it with her dance moves like in the “One Minute Man” video, I can’t help but “stop, pop and drop it” along beside her.
I also love that Misdemeanor has redefined the term “triple-threat” since she can sing, rap and dance. But then we can throw in write and produce and stir in great business savvy and we have a perfect storm of new age hip-hop feminist heroine.
And I would be totally out of order if I didn’t mention her incredible courage with Emotional Nudity. She has been open about her sexual orientation, emotional and health challenges from the beginning. You just have to admire someone who runs a full-court game and wins with her own rules. So when I’m making my list of top 10 women I admire, is there any question why Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliot makes my list? What women made your list?