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There’s no denying that – both musically and visually – Missy Elliott is an absolute icon. From her refusal to conform to the expectations placed upon female rappers throughout the ’90s and ’00s, to her envelope-pushing productions, empowering lyrics and arresting visuals to boot, she’s always been a pro at setting the bar high.
Someone who’s been a fan of Missy’s work from day one is rising London rapper/producer Knucks. The Kilburn artist deals in R&B-leaning production complemented by a laidback flow – his latest offering being the ‘Rice & Stew’ single which dropped along with a visually appealing video. Having been captivated by Missy’s videos since childhood, below Knucks shares the ten visuals that have stuck in his mind as a result.
1. ‘Beep Me 911 ’
“I like this video because it’s one of Missyʼs more colourful and effeminate visuals. There’s a lot of hot pinks and a shiny glossiness to it. I also like the concept of the backing dancers being dolls with ‘toy joints’ painted on their knees and elbows.”
2. ‘I’m Really Hot’
“I picked this video because of the aesthetic and the obvious Tarantino references. If you know your films, you’ll be able to notice straight away the nods to Kill Bill from the Asian dancers in suits to even having Uma Thurman’s infamous ‘pussy wagon’ truck in the intro. Subtle but effective.”
3. ‘One Minute Man’
“I wasn’t always the biggest fan of this video but coming back to it much older, I just had to appreciate the clean and crisp look. The location and hotel alone makes this video stand out, each room looking more wacky and eccentric than the last in true Missy nature.”
4. ‘She’s A Bitch’
“What makes this video so iconic isn’t even Missyʼs usual quirkiness but it’s more so the statement she made with it. The main scene is Missy in an all-black outfit completely bald with shades, which I take as her showing that she’s not trying to conform to whatever image was expected by female rappers at the time. Remember this was late ’90s, early 2000s…”
5. ‘Sock It 2 Me’
“I may be biased because of how much I mess with the song, but I enjoy watching the visuals to this one also. It may be the amateur-style special effects throughout, it reminds me of those old monster/disaster movies where they used green screen and miniature cities. It’s also fun and playful as most her videos are.”
6. ‘Get Ur Freak On’
“This one is the most infamous for me as it was my introduction into the world of wild videos. Even though it’s pretty dark, Missy finds a way to keep it light hearted and she threw some legendary cameos in there. My favourite scene is the shot in the car on the beat switch up. That ‘spit it out’ part always rattled me though.”
7. ‘Pass That Dutch’
“This video is a madness, from the dancers in the scarecrow/cornfield scene, the VHS-style dancing scene based on ‘Good Timesʼ and the scene of Missy and the big women in the Jeep, there’s a lot going on. A shot that always stood out for me was when one of the women in the car with Missy pulls a soldier into the window, eats him then dashes his bones out. I was shook.”
8. ‘Work It ’
“The thing I like the most about Missy Elliot’s videos is how they complement the punchlines in the song which are usually very funny. This video is the epitome of that. For example, the scene where she talks about Kunta Kinte and shows a slave on screen literally slapping the white of his masters face. If that’s not iconic then what is right? Also, I have to note that whoever picks the dancers for Missy’s videos deserves an award.”
9. ‘Lose Control’
“This one is one of my personal favourites. It’s fast-paced and very cool. It’s not the most colourful or eccentric of her videos but I feel it’s carried by tight choreography and sick composition (for example, the shot with the hoods and glowing eyes). It still has Missyʼs humour in there, like the opening scene where they cut and paste her head on an obviously slimmer dancer. I always loved the end bit where she’s dancing, balancing on a log while floating around like there’s zero gravity. I remember being gassed at a young age watching this.”
10. ‘The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)’
“Now last and definitely not least, in my humble opinion, this is the most Missy Elliot a Missy Elliot video can get. The cinematography in this video is flawless and the authenticity of it bleeds through. So many iconic shots in this video but my two favourite things are the use of the fish eye lens and the jittery sped-up movements everyone had throughout. I did notice it was used a lot in ’90s videos (for example TLC ‘No Scrubs’) but it definitely stood out more to me in this video. It also has all the other things that make a Missy Elliot video; quirkiness, vibrant set design and choreography. My favourite scene is of course the one with the ‘black bag and bike helmet’ outfit with the swinging clogs in the background. I don’t feel I need to explain that. Legendary.”
Watch the video for Knucks’ latest single, ‘Rice & Stew’: