Born on the 1st of July 1971 in Portsmouth, Virginia, Melissa Arnette Elliott is now known throughout the world as music producer and rapper Missy Elliot. From the early years of poverty Missy Elliot has risen rapidly in the music business to become probably one of the most successful rap singers today and certainly one of the richest with an estimated $50 million in the bank.
The Early Years
The only daughter of a company dispatcher and a U.S. Marine, young Melissa Elliot spent the early years of her life living in a mobile home in Jacksonville, North Carolina to accommodate her father’s military lifestyle. When his service was over, the family moved back to Portsmouth only to live in extremely poor conditions.
From the earliest days, Missy Elliot was a natural performer and wanted to be a star even at the tender age of four. Despite ridicule from others, Elliot and three friends formed their own performance group “Fayze” and by 1990 had recorded several demo songs. The group came to the notice of successful music producer DeVante Swing and were signed by Elektra Records. A new beginning beckoned as the group moved to New York and were re-named “Sista”.
Missy Elliot’s Career Path
The Swing Mob. Between 1991 and 1995, Missy Elliot was a member of the “Swing Mob”, a group of musicians and singers who wrote, sang and played on each others various projects with great success. However, by late 1995 most of the Swing Mob had gone their separate ways and it was time for Missy Elliot to do her own thing.
Flying Solo. Elliot and her friend from the Swing Mob, Timbaland, worked as a production and songwriting team for acts such as SWV, 702 and Aaliyah. Elliot and Timbaland received instant acclaim when Aaliyah’s album “One in a Million” went double platinum as the duo had written and produced the bulk of the songs on the record including the hits “One in a Million”, “Hot Like Fire” and “Four Page Letter”.
Supa Dupa. In 1996, Elliot signed with East West Records as a solo artist and the following year released her debut album “Supa Dupa Fly”. The first single off the album “The Rain” became a monster hit and the album followed suit by being certified platinum and nominated for Best Rap Album.
Real World. The success of Missy Elliot’s debut album was not just a one-off. Albums two and three, “Da Real World” and “Miss E.. So Addictive”, sold in the millions worldwide and spawned numerous hit singles. Further hit albums and singles followed as Missy Elliot became the Number One female rapper and added to her increasing wealth with each new release.
The Sum Total
Missy Elliot has sold over thirty million records in her career netting her a tidy sum in the process. However, it is her songwriting and production skills that have been the biggest contributors to her $50 million bank account.
Over the years Missy Elliot has written songs for, or produced, or both, for a veritable “Who’s Who” of popular music. Artists such as “Puffy” Combs, Total, Whitney Houston, Mel B, Christina Aquilera, Lil’ Kim, Pink, Keyshia Cole, Monica, Janet Jackson and many others have all benefited from Missy Elliot’s Midas touch and that $50 million continues to grow as the royalties flow in.