As she lays down a verse with Janet Jackson, revisit the hip-hop queen’s slept-on collabs with TLC, Lil’ Kim and Dr. Dre
Last week, Janet Jackson unveiled the tracklist for her upcoming album Unbreakable, and there was one name that snapped our attention – Missy Elliott. The rapper, producer and hip-hop queen will be sprinkling her Missy magic on new track “Burnitup!” and we can’t wait (especially as we’ve been waiting on her comeback for what feels like forever). It’s not the first time she's offered up her lyrical talents, either – she’s got a long history of taking a good track and elevating it to greatness. To celebrate what will be Missy’s 45th feature, we’ve sifted through three decades of game-changing guest verses to find what we think are ten of her undisputed best.
Missy Elliott, Lil’ Kim, Lisa Lopez, Angie Martinez and Da Brat all on one track – what more could you want? Missy’s easy lyricism fits perfectly between the tight harmonies and verses, giving the 1979 Kool & the Gang classic a much-need nineties makeover. On a side note, Lil' Kim looks like someone in disguise as Lil' Kim in this video.
Janet Jackson & Carly Simon – “Son of a Gun (ft. Missy Elliott)"
This year won’t be the first time Missy Elliott and Janet Jackson have collaborated on a track. Way back in 2001, the pair teamed up for “Son of a Gun”, which sees Missy deliver a series of killer verses over a Carly Simon sample. As for the video, Janet Jackson eats a spider before using telekinetic powers to summon a legion of zombies and Missy herself.
Nicole Wray – “Make it Hot (ft. Missy Elliott)”
It’s hard to fault Missy in this throwback classic with Cali R&Ber (and Missy's first label protégée) Nicole Wray. Not only did the rapper produce and write the track, but she delivered a guest verse which is still one of her best: “I’m sitting on the side of the curb, with a pocket of herb, I don’t know if ya’ll heard, I’m as high as a bird.”
Ghostface Killah – "Tush (ft. Missy Elliott)"
This 2004 track from Wu-Tang’s Ghostface Killah with Missy Elliott shows them both at their best, with unapologetically dirty, 100mph wordplay that makes you blink and choke at the same time. When it first came out, some thought it was too clean and over-produced, but we think it’s underrated.
Keyshia Cole – "Let It Go (ft. Missy Elliott & Lil' Kim)"
Only Missy Elliott could turn a laugh into such a catchy line (“heh heh heh heh”), and she’s perfect alongside Lil' Kim in this club-ready girl power jam from LA singer Keyshia Cole. Watch the video for an added dose of mid-noughties, Chanel-heavy bling.
This posthumous track from late TLC star Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes and her bandmates flew relatively under the radar, but Missy’s verse in this is undeniable: “They used to call me fat, they used to say I’m ugly, but now I’m making records, groupies screaming that they love me.”
This sex-centric track from 2007 isn’t much until Missy Elliott charges in towards the end (wearing a velour tracksuit in the vid) and sets it on fire. “Hold up! Hell naw! Like Britney Spears I wear no draws, in the club I drink it up, gulp gulp drink it up.”
MC Lyte – "Cold Rock a Party (ft. Missy Elliott)"
Rewind back to ’96 in this overlooked banger from MC Lyte, which includes a young Missy Elliott right at the start of her career. “To the yes yes ya’ll, I’ma take a pause cause I be feelin’ myself like I was To-Boz,” she raps over a Diana Ross loop and a Jermaine Dupri-produced beat.
Ciara – “1, 2 Step (ft. Missy Elliott)”
Wanna feel old? Ciara’s slick, Jazze Pha-produced hit “1, 2 Step” was released eleven years ago. It’s still just as catchy, though and Missy kills it with a quick-fire verse that sees her rhyme “fillet mignon” with “nice and young”, because why not?
Tweet – "Oops (Oh My)(ft. Missy Elliott)
Missy Elliott’s verse in this early noughties R&B club classic is fleeting but iconic, mainly because her delivery seems so easy that it’s like she’s barely even has to try. In it, the rapper joins in the ode to “self love” with the hilarious line, “I was lookin’ so good, I couldn’t reject myself.” Fair enough.