It‘s 1997. A slick and jazzy Missy—dressed in various hues of neon—grooves across our television screens. In another shot, she sits atop a grassy hill in a glossy black wig that she playfully twirls around her fingers. And then there was the iconic trash bag suit.
“Although I am shy, I was never afraid to be a provocative woman,” Missy shared in a 2017 interview. “The outfit was a symbol of power.” And, as many fans would likely agree, so was “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly).” Directed by Hype Williams, “The Rain”—which was also Missy’s debut—was an early testament to what would become a legacy of unabashed individualism. From the moment she stepped on the scene, it was clear the Queen Misdemeanor had no interest in anyone’s lane but her own. Whether she was stylishly hitting them with her best impression of the late King of Pop (“Hit Em Wit Da Hee”) or losing control in a pit of sand (“Lose Control”), she did so with untouched class. She was the epitome of what it means to be a trailblazer. A dynamo. A vanguard.
It’s for those reasons we—the fans, those who know what’s good—are stricken with elation when she suddenly appears at the Super Bowl after a long hiatus. Or surprises us with new music 12 years after her last studio album. Or headlines a music festival. Or even hints at—gasp!—a new album? We know there is not and will never be another Missy, so we cling to and cherish whatever she offers, even if the moment is fleeting.
As CASSIUS writer Andre Grant once stated, “Missy will always be remembered for making it okay to be whatever you want to be.” For that, we are so grateful and honored to award this year’s MTV Video Vanguard Award to Missy Elliott, who—honestly—should have received this a long-ass time ago.
We love you, Missy. Thanks for shifting the culture.
*Curtains draw to reveal montage of Missy’s best videos*
1. “Hit Em Wit Da Hee”
2. “She’s A B**ch”
3. “Gossip Folks”
4. “I’m Really Hot”
5. “Lose Control”
6. “We Run This”
7. “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)”
8. “Pass That Dutch”