Last year at this very time, I lamented the fact that the incomparable Missy Elliott hadn’t given us a new album in a full decade.
One year later, Missy gave me new hope with the release of her newest video, “WTF (Where They From),” a video so hot that it nearly put Twitter in a coma and Instagram in a body bag.
For the past 20 years, Missy has reigned as the queen of music videos. Today, let’s look at her 10 greatest and where “WTF” ranks among her best.
Honorable Mentions: “Hot Boyz,” “Pass That Dutch”
10. Beep Me 911 (1998)
Missy and friends become living action figures inside a vividly colorful dollhouse. I mean, Ken Doll Magoo alone is worth the price of admission. The Pee Wee’s Playhouse vibe is the perfect setting for one of Missy’s most underrated cuts. It’s often forgotten among Missy’s more iconic visuals but this is still a fun ride.
9. One Minute Man (2001)
“Welcome … umm hmmm … to the Get Ur Freak On Hotel.” Missy runs amok in a sleazy hotel while Ludacris tries to get lucky with a grown woman who still wets the bed. Good luck with that, homie. The video is predictably insane yet still manages to be one of Missy’s more tame outings. Well, besides Headless Missy flicking her tongue like a viper. That always kinda freaked me out.
8. Lose Control (2005)
Boy, BET played this video to DEATH in 2005 and it’s easy to see why. This was the ultimate dance party, complete with Ciara and her girls getting their Paranormal Activity on by levitating and dancing on the walls. This was probably Missy’s last great video — until a few days ago, that is.
7. Sock It 2 Me (1998)
Maybe it’s the gamer in me, but nearly 20 years later and this is still one of my favorite videos. Mega Man Missy, Da Brat and Lil Kim fly through the cosmos blasting bad guys in a living video game. They looked like they were having a ball and that energy pulsates through the screen.
6. WTF (Where They From) (2015)
Yes, although it’s just a few days old, Missy’s comeback visuals rank this high in her amazing videography — and that’s just not just blind Standom talking. Street-dancing puppets, glow-in-the-dark hoverboards, Missy dressed like a disco ball, it’s everything you could want from hip-hop’s premier innovator. Misdemeanor jumped back in the game like she never left.
5. She’s a B**** (1999)
By 1999, Missy made her name with bright, eye-popping videos. But for her sophomore album’s debut single, she went in the opposite direction and embraced the dark side. Dressed like Darth Vader caught in the Matrix, Missy lashed out at critics while also attempting to reclaim The Dreaded B Word as a word of empowerment.
4. Gossip Folks (2003)
This one is all about the message. Missy equates hip-hop tabloids to chatty grade school kids, with this video showcasing what happens when there aren’t adults around to reign them in. Missy’s videos, while always fun, rarely convey poignant messages. This video does both.
3. Work It (2002)
“Work It” is not just Missy’s love letter to classic hip-hop, it’s also a shining example of her infectious creativity. For instance, Missy mans the wheels of steel by while bees crawl all over her face. Why? It’s Missy, that’s why.
2. Get Ur Freak On (2001)
Last year I called this the quintessential Missy Elliott song. The accompanying video just adds to its legacy. Upside-down zombies, Missy’s neck stretching like Mr. Fantastic, and, of course, that guy who drank Missy’s spit — it’s like your worst nightmare threw a block party. You can’t turn away from it.
1. The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly) (1997)
The fish-eye lenses. The Hummer. THE TRASH BAG SUIT. This isn’t just Missy’s best video but one of the greatest music videos of all time. Missy’s debut was a creative triumph — an absolutely amazing achievement for an artist’s debut video. And she was just getting started.
What’s your favorite Missy Elliott video? Let us know below.