Missy Elliott and Timbaland are one of hip hop’s most iconic duos. They grew up in Virginia and became friends, developing a close working relationship in the early 1990s. They originally recorded demos for Jodeci’s DeVante Swing's label. The pair's tight chemistry translated into Timbaland producing most of Missy’s discography, making their biggest hits. Missy Elliott’s unique approach to Timbaland’s unconventional production style created a sound and style that has stood the test of time. This week marks 22 years since Missy’s third studio album, Miss E… So Addictive. Missy Elliott was also recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and has influenced many careers.
This list of Missy Elliott and Timbaland’s biggest hits highlights their chemistry and influential sound of the late 1990s and early 2000s. The list draws from Missy Elliott’s spotless music catalog, almost entirely produced by Timbaland. Many of their best and biggest hits come from the albums Supa Dupa Fly and Da Real World. Each of these hit singles is considered a classic, listed chronologically. Take a look at the list below.
"The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)" (1997)
Missy Elliott’s debut single, “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” is one of her best and biggest hits. Every part of the song is catchy, from Missy’s effortless and laid-back flow in her verses to the sample of “I Can’t Stand The Rain” by Ann Peebles. The beat from Timbaland is slow but bouncy enough to get one’s head bobbing. No rap song sounded like “The Rain” at the time, making it so unique. The Missy Elliott and Timbaland style is so influential due to this song and those like it. The video for "The Rain" was also crucial for hip hop as many rappers of the 1990s and 2000s tried to emulate Missy’s style.
"Sock It 2 Me" (1997)
The horns that immediately start playing on “Sock It 2 Me” are infectious. The song samples “Ready Or Not Here I Come” by The Delfonics, famously recreated by The Fugees the year prior. While The Fugees recreated the sample’s chorus, “Sock It 2 Me” completely reimagines the first few bars of the sample. Missy Elliott showcases her singing in the verses and sounds even better with her layered vocals on the hook. Da Brat’s feature verse is impressive as she transitions between slow and double-time flows with different cadences.
"Hit Em Wit Da Hee" (1997)
“Hit Em Wit Da Hee” is the song that starts Supa Dupa Fly. Before Missy Elliott says a single word on her debut album, Lil Kim starts the song with one of her best verses. Over the beat's twanged guitar strings, Missy displays her versatility. She sings the song’s chorus and spits two verses, both at a very high level. While both “The Rain” and “Sock It 2 Me” were commercial successes in the United States, “Hit Em Wit Da Hee” was not released as a single in the U.S. until the album's release. Despite that, it performed quite well in the U.K. and eventually charted on Billboard in the U.S. Though it was not nearly as big of a hit as the previous singles from Supa Dupa Fly, “Hit Em Wit Da Hee” deserves to be mentioned among Missy Elliott and Timbaland’s best hits.
"She's A Bitch" (1999)
Missy Elliott’s Da Real World is arguably her best album and doubles down on the sound she and Timbaland created with Supa Dupa Fly. One could also argue that they took more artistic risks on Da Real World, but the album was also a critical and commercial success for both of them, leading to multiple hits. The lead single and one of the best songs from the album is “She’s A Bitch.” The song features one of Timbaland’s bounciest productions and some of Missy’s most slick and animated rhymes. She weaves in and out of different flows, rapping about how the word “bitch” can be both misogynistic and empowering. “She’s A Bitch” has been sampled several times, including GoldLink’s “Spectrum” and, most recently, BIA’s “I’m That Bitch” which features Timbaland.
"All N My Grill" (1999)
Many of Timbaland’s beats are perfect for both rapping and singing. “All N My Grill” is an ideal example of that. Missy Elliott sings over the orchestral instrumental alongside Nicole Wray’s killer ad-libs. The standard version of the song features a verse from Big Boi, while the European release of the single features French rapper MC Solaar. Both versions with the guest verses rank among Missy Elliott and Timbaland’s best hits and performed well on the charts.
"Hot Boyz" (1999)
“Hot Boyz” is one of Missy Elliott’s most anthemic songs. Over one of Timbaland’s toughest instrumentals, Missy Elliott switches between rapping and singing on the verses. The song also features some vocal runs from Lil Mo, which brings the piece together nicely. The way the instrumental starts and stops during Missy’s verses exemplifies her and Timbaland's chemistry. The song's remix was also made for a posse cut featuring Nas, Eve, and Q-Tip.
"Get Ur Freak On" (2001)
The very first word on “Get Ur Freak On” is when Missy says, “headbanger.” This word perfectly describes the song “Get Ur Freak On,” which is one of Elliott’s most exciting tracks. The explosive instrumental from Timbaland makes for one of the most iconic rap songs ever. The song is unpredictable, as Missy Elliott’s energetic verses contain dramatic pauses and ad-libs that keep the listener locked in.
“Get Ur Freak On” is a staple in pop culture, as it has been performed at the Super Bowl. It has also been sampled several times, notably on Bad Bunny’s “Safaera.” In Elloitt's second verse, she raps, “Me and Timbaland been hot since 20 years ago,” which speaks to their chemistry, quality of the music, and longevity.