Let me start this off by officially dubbing this as a Missy Elliott stan blog lol (as well as a Denzel Curry, Tyler the Creator, Pharrell Williams, and Childish Gambino stan blog). I LOVE Missy Elliott – which is gonna sound like a fake statement, since the whole reason we’re here is because I’ve never listened to a full Missy album. But listen, Linda….it is what it is lol. I’ve heard enough of Missy’s individual songs and seen enough of her music videos to know that I want to be her when I grow up. She’s so damn cool to me. Her style, her flow, her music, her creativity – it’s all off the charts. I had actually planned to do a First Listen on Digable Planets’s Blowout Comb (1994), but then I decided that I had already listened to enough 90s hip hop albums from folks from New York this week lol. Supa Dupa Fly (1997) was gonna be a project that I listened to on the side with some brief mentions at some point. But Missy deserves more. Missy deserves her own spot. And Virginia has been a GREAT asset to hip hop. So off the strength of Pharrell, Timbaland, Missy, Pusha T, Malice, all the other Black creatives from Virgina, and my hope to be as fire as Missy Elliott in the future, we’re talking about Supa Dupa Fly.
1997: Supa Dupa Fly
I love this project. And I love this project for Missy. Let me just say, like I mentioned with both Yasiin Bey’s Black on Both Sides (1999) and Camp Lo’s Uptown Saturday Night (1997), that this is an AMAZING debut project. Like…how were people making these fire debuts????
Another thing that I also want to point out about this project is how…sexy it is? Now, I’m gonna go on a bit of a tangent, but I’m hopefully gonna make it make sense. This project isn’t sexy in the way that Lil Kim’s Hard Core (1996) is. Missy isn’t necessarily talking about sex on every song on this project – but we’ll get there in a sec. It’s really the production. There’s always something very “love in this club” about Timbaland’s production to me. It’s super funky, groovy, and the vibe feels like those moments in 90s movies where people are in a crowded house party with blue lights, essentially dancing on top of each other lol. I really don’t know how to explain it. There’s just something sensual about it. And that’s paired with the moments where Missy talks about sex on this project. And I want to bring these things up, specifically, because I think Missy is one of those female rappers that get left out of the conversation around sexiness because she doesn’t necessarily exude traditional feminine sexiness. It’s easy to dismiss the sensuality in her lyrics because there’s an assumption that because she doesn’t present herself in a certain way, that she can’t be sexy.
I remember having a conversation with some folks on Reddit a couple of weeks ago about Cardi B and Meg thee Stallion, after the video for “WAP” came out. Someone made a comment that was essentially calling Meg and Cardi out for continuing to perpetuate the “Black Barbie” archetype. They mentioned that people like them prevent other women from being able to show up differently (e.g. in less overtly sexual ways). And I disagreed very heavily with that point, for reasons I won’t go too deep into. But something that I thought was interesting that came out of that conversation was a move towards us talking about how because certain women don’t look a specific type of sexy means that they can’t be sexy or don’t talk about sex. Noname was one of those women who came up, as being the sort of anti-Cardi.
And that reminded me of an interview that Noname did either before or after she released Room 25 (2018), where she mentioned that part of her inspiration for writing the project came from her having recently (at that time) lost her virginity. Now, because Noname typically talks about more sociopolitical issues and presents herself (online and physically) a certain way, there’s this idea that she somehow exists completely separate from sensuality. Which is untrue. And I think that same thing happens with Missy, where she can literally say “I put my thing down, flip it and reverse it” and people act like she’s not talking about what she’s talking about because she isn’t wearing super revealing clothing, etc. Long story short, I guess what I’m trying to say is that sexiness exists in multiplicities, and women in rap should be allowed to show that sexiness however they want. And Missy (with the help of Timbaland) does that on this project. From the production to songs like “Sock It 2 Me” & “Beep Me 911” and moments on “Hit ‘Em Wit Da Hee” & “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” Supa Dupa Fly gives us passion and sensuality, albeit sometimes a little more covert.
The features were another thing that I really loved about this project. I loved hearing Missy on tracks with other female artists and rappers. Lil’ Kim was great, Aaliyah was fantastic (when was she not??), the ladies of 702 went off, and I’m so HAPPY I finally got to hear Da Brat on a track (most of my interactions with her have been through Dish Nation lol, but I know she’s super talented). And Missy was obviously solid throughout the entire project; nothing to really add there.
Ooh, and before I forget, I have to say that Busta Rhymes on the intro and outro was E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. I feel like I’ve always underrated Busta Rhymes, mostly because I’ve had very little interaction with his music (that I know of) outside of a couple of his features (sad to say that Chris Brown’s “Look at Me Now” is one of those features). But hearing him on Supa Dupa Fly and on “Do It Now” from Black on Both Sides makes me want to listen to a Busta Rhymes solo project. Him hyping Missy up before the project starts really set the mood, and I’m kind of here for artists doing that more. Like, imagine Schoolboy Q doing an intro hype track for a Denzel Curry project lol. That would be fire, right?
This project heightened my love and appreciation for Missy Elliott. And Timbaland, to be honest. Literally both of them have always been top tier for me, but they come together so perfectly on this project, and it was nice to spend some more intimate time with their music instead of it being more passive or delegated solely to their radio hits. They bring out the best of each other on this project and really created a masterpiece. And it’s a debut project!!!!!!!! I’M SICK!!!!!!
Featured Image Credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/417075615474612541/
(listen to Supa Dupa Fly on spotify by clicking the image below)
here’s something else you might like…
So. Camp Lo. Uptown Saturday Night (1997). This is another one that I see all the time when looking around on record store websites. There has always been a little bit of intrigue there, for me, because the cover is *chef’s kiss*, but as always, my ability to act on that intrigue has been at … Continue reading Week Fulla 90s Hip Hop – First Listen #29: Camp Lo’s ‘Uptown Saturday Night’