Melissa Arnette Elliott born July 1, 1971, known professionally as Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott or simply Missy Elliott, is an American rapper, dancer, and record producer.
Missy was born in Portsmouth, Virginia. She is the only child of mother Patricia Elliott, a power-company dispatcher, and father Ronnie, a U.S. Marine no longer on active duty working as a Shipyard welder. Elliott grew up in an active church choir family, and singing was a normal part of her youth. At the age of four in 1975, she wanted to be a performer, and, as biographer Veronica A. Davis writes, she “would sing and perform for her family”. In later years, she feared no one would take her seriously, because she was always the class clown. While her father was an active Marine, the family lived in Jacksonville, North Carolina, in a manufactured home community. Elliott blossomed during this part of her life. She enjoyed school for the friendships she formed though she had little interest in school work. She would later get well above average marks on intelligence tests, and she was advanced two years ahead of her former class. Her move in grades caused isolation, and she purposely failed, eventually returning to her previous class. When her father returned from the Marines, they moved back to Virginia, where they lived in extreme poverty.
Life in Virginia saw many hardships. Elliott tells of domestic abuse by her father. She refused to stay over at friends’ homes out of fear that, on her return home, she would find her mother dead. When Elliott was eight, she was molested by a cousin. In one violent incident, Ronnie Elliott dislocated his wife’s shoulders and, during another, Elliott herself was threatened with a gun. At fourteen, Elliott’s mother decided to end the situation; she fled with her daughter under the guise of taking a joyride on a local bus. In reality, the pair had found refuge at a family member’s home where their possessions were stored in a loaded U-Haul truck. Elliott tells that she feared her father would kill them both for leaving.
She later stated, “When we left, my mother realized how strong she was on her own, and it made me strong. It took her leaving to realize.”
Elliott embarked on her music career with all-female R&B group Sista in the early 1990s and later became a member of the Swing Mob collective along with childhood friend and long time collaborator Timbaland, with whom she worked on projects for Aaliyah, 702, Total, and SWV. Following several collaborations and guest appearances, she launched her solo career in 1997 with her debut album Supa Dupa Fly. The album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200, the highest-charting debut for a female rapper at the time.
She released another 6 studio albums, in 1999 Da Real World, in 2001 – Miss E… So Addictive, in 2002 – Under Construction, in 2004 – This Is Not A Test!, in 2005 – The Cookbook and in 2006 Respect M.E.
In January 2005, Missy launched The Road to Stardom with Missy Elliott, a UPN singing competition that offered 13 contestants — all rising singers or emcees — the chance for a record contract and professional mentorship. It was heinously cheesy, and its winner, Jessica Betts, couldn’t find mainstream success outside of the show. Madonna popped up in one episode, which was about as weird as you’d imagine.
Elliott has said that she wants to start a family, but she is afraid of giving birth. She states, “I don’t know if I can take that kind of pain. Maybe in the year 2020 you could just pop a baby out and it’d be fine. But right now I’d rather just adopt.” Elliott and her father occasionally talk, but the singer says she hasn’t forgiven him.
In June 2011, Elliott told People magazine that her absence from the music industry was due to a hyperthyroid disorder known as Graves’ disease. She was diagnosed after she nearly crashed a car from having severe leg spasms. She experienced severe symptoms from the condition, and she could not even hold a pen up to write songs. After treatment, her symptoms stabilized, and she has announced that she would like to get back to her career.