When MTV announced Missy Elliott as the recipient of the 2019 Video Vanguard Award, the news was long overdue. Elliott’s reputation as the queen of innovative music videos warranted the MTV honor as far back as the early 2000s. Nevertheless, it’s never too late to celebrate the trailblazing career of Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott whose legacy is shown in the artistry of current female rappers like Tierra Whack, Lizzo and Megan Thee Stallion. 

Shortly after the Vanguard news, Elliott made her own surprise announcement sharing that her first body of work in 14 years would soon drop. Iconology was released the weekend before Elliott’s MTV Video Music Awards performance, and “the collection of new songs” offers a well-needed reminder of the rapper and producer’s avant-garde flavor that broke through the intersections of hip-hop and R&B in the 1990s. Here are four takeaways from Iconology that prove Elliott is the sheer embodiment of the EP’s namesake.

1. Visuals Feel Like You’ve Stepped In A Time Machine

YouTube | Missy Elliott

If there was ever a case study of game-changing music videos, Elliott would certainly be included. She’s the avant-garde of avant-garde. Her most notable visuals range from making an oversized trash bag fashionable in the “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” video to creating a somewhat creepy jungle environment in “Get Ur Freak On.” Elliott’s iconic career includes creating some of the most influential music videos in hip-hop culture, and the video for “Throw It Back,” the first track off Iconology, is no different. 

The video features aesthetically-pleasing color schemes, killer choreography and scenes of Elliott using her hair as a makeshift jump rope. In true Elliot fashion, her video feels like a trip down the rabbit hole into Misdemeanor Wonderland with all the elements that make her the textbook definition of a creative visionary.

2. Singles Have Eargasm-Inducing Melodies

Elliott isn’t a stranger to merging R&B and hip-hop. Her debut album Supa Dupa Fly, showcased how she could easily balance both genres with her impressive singing and witty bars. Additionally, Elliott’s influence on R&B as a songwriter and singer is just as important as her impact on hip-hop culture. She’s written hit songs for the likes of Destiny’s Child, Fantasia, Jazmine Sullivan, Tweet and Aaliyah. 

Iconology partially has an R&B sound with “DripDemeanor” and the ballad “Why I Still Love You,” which features Elliott’s strong vocals. “Why I Still Love You”, which is followed by an acapella version on the EP, sounds like something straight out of a Mary J.Blige album, as Elliott contemplates leaving a toxic relationship although she doesn’t want to. Ballads aren’t a main element in Elliott’s style, but the single is proof that the icon can experiment with any song form and make it her own.

3. Beats Cause Involuntary Body Movement


Elliott’s production credits span nearly three decades. From working with longtime friend and collaborator Timbaland to producing Aaliyah’s iconic One in a Million  album and being hands-on with her own discography, Elliott knows how to make a song pop. The beats on both “Throw it Back” and "DripDemeanor,” a song that Elliott co-produced with Timbaland, is reminiscent of the groovy experimental rhythm that’s been prevalent throughout her career. The variety of unorthodox sounds somehow mesh beautifully together, marking the power of Elliott’s production.

4. Lyrics Make You Want To Have A Hot Girl Summer


Another factor of Elliott’s artistry is how she consistently shares feminist messages in her music. If the sexually empowering lyrics for “Work It” pose any reminder, Elliott has never shied away from embracing her sex appeal. On “DripDemeanor,” Elliott raps about not wanting to settle for less in romantic relationships because she’s the “cream of the crop.” The confidence she emits remains one of the greatest take aways from her music.

Although Iconology only holds five tracks, the EP is a brief reminder that Missy Elliott’s genius continues to break barriers in hip-hop.