"The witness becomes the writer. From the test comes the testimony."
May 19, 2017 3:59 PM   Subscribe

On Missy's 2015 song "WTF (Where They From)," there is a sample of a young girl speaking. The voice belongs to Rachel Jeantel, the friend of Trayvon Martin who was on the phone with him when he was murdered. Missy doesn't bring this up, I do. She goes almost mute when I say that by sampling Jeantel's voice, Pharrell and she have done a remarkable thing that has reversed what usually happens to the words of girls who look like Rachel Jeantel.
From Elle's June edition cover story on Missy Elliott as interviewed by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah.
posted by MartinWisse (20 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Cannot believe those jeans are $750. Weird to go from that to abuse, poverty and look at those earrings™.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 4:20 PM on May 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Between your pull-quote and the title is another important caveat: “They have preserved them for the record, credited her for her voice and her words, and made sure she got paid.”

Also, does no one else notice the irony of giving a voice to the voiceless in the middle of advertisements for $6,500 pants?
posted by koavf at 4:23 PM on May 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yes, it is too bad that talented women are under-recognized, and that the fashion magazines that *are* willing to give them their due pay their bills by advertising luxury wear. But expensive clothes are not a contradiction with Missy's aesthetic - she likes nice things, she flaunts her good taste, she is not embarrassed to be the boss. I find it inspiring, actually.
posted by mai at 4:30 PM on May 19, 2017 [48 favorites]

Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah is a terrific writer and Missy Elliott is my person of the year so far for hard-to-identify reasons... so this is very timely for me. Thanks for posting it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:34 PM on May 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

This article bookends wonderfully with this New Yorker article by Hilton Als from 1997 when she was ascendant. I love every part of Missy's career and look forward to seeing where she goes next.
posted by Dmenet at 4:38 PM on May 19, 2017 [9 favorites]

Why does Natalie Portman wear those expensive sweaters anyway
posted by beerperson at 4:43 PM on May 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

My eight year old asks for me to play "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)" every day on the way to school. We love us some Missy Elliot in the 4ster house.
posted by 4ster at 4:47 PM on May 19, 2017 [9 favorites]

From around '96 to '04 Missy was unstoppable. Every year or two she'd drop another amazing album that sounded like nobody else's, paired with videos that looked like nothing else on Earth. Everyone else would spend the next year copying what she and Timbaland had done and just when the sound started getting tired she'd be back with something new, sounding and looking completely different than what had come before. Welcome back, Missy. We missed you.
posted by Blue Meanie at 5:00 PM on May 19, 2017 [7 favorites]

I ran lights for BET's Soundstage nightclub from 1997 - 2004. Missy's stuff was always the stuff that blew up the dance floor. She and Andre 3000 are the reasons I loved my job so much. Shes a genius.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 5:43 PM on May 19, 2017 [23 favorites]

"Missy was always aware of her worth, her real worth—not the fluff or the proxies for currency and confidence that most people depend on. She always expressed what so many of us feel on the inside but have no model for how to display."

This is good. Thank you, MartinWisse.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:44 PM on May 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Love this. Thanks for the post.
posted by rtha at 6:08 PM on May 19, 2017

I have loved her since Under Construction. She's an original and a great artist.
posted by Peach at 6:37 PM on May 19, 2017

Great article.
posted by bq at 7:15 PM on May 19, 2017

It's worth reading everything by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah
posted by jebs at 12:13 AM on May 20, 2017

That's an incredible article. I love how it reaches through time and through such a range of genres and arts to put Missy Elliott in her full context as a black woman artist. Thanks for sharing it, MartinWisse.
posted by daisyk at 1:43 AM on May 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

Fantastic article.
posted by klangklangston at 5:04 PM on May 20, 2017

That New Yorker article really is great --
Generally, the New Negro—who is “new” every decade or so—is female, a woman who considers her marginal status a form of freedom and a challenge: she takes the little she has been given and transforms it into something complex, outrageous, and, ultimately, fashionable. She is outrageous because no one cares what she does—until, that is, she begins to make money.
and it already mentions some of what she did that won her the longevity to *still* be working.
posted by clew at 10:59 AM on May 21, 2017

Found this nice set of short interviews with their early collaborators etc, by Chris Williams, about Missy Elliott and Timbaland's early years in music - some about the business side and some about the music side, all interesting.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:55 PM on May 21, 2017

And an interview with Missy's makeup artist Gloria Elias Foeillet, by Arabella Sicardi. (Talks a bit about their process, which ideas came from who, and underscores again how deliberate Missy is about every detail.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:04 PM on May 21, 2017

This is a fantastic article, just as amazing as Missy deserves. I was joyful when she came back in 2015, she has been the soundtrack to my life since Aaliyah. Thanks for the extra links LM and others.
posted by ellieBOA at 11:29 PM on May 21, 2017

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