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Supa Dupa Fly

Missy Elliott


An avant-garde rap hero and a revolutionary producer team up for a radical, ecstatic debut.

By 1997, Virginia rapper Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott and producer Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley were already two of the most forward-thinking hitmakers of the era, writing boundary-pushing avant-R&B tracks for Aaliyah, SWV, and more. But nothing could prepare the world for Elliott’s star turn—a rap-sung tangle that played like a stroll through a malfunctioning robot factory, which she delivered dressed as a crazysexycool funkateer in inflatable garbage bags.

Elliott’s debut single, “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” thrust her into instant stardom; her offbeat coughs, melodic tangents, pauses, and onomatopoeias served as gateways to pop ecstasy, and Supa Dupa Fly as a whole is full of similar bouts of radical expression. Funny, sexually aggressive, careening between sultry singing and cartoonish sound effects and laughs—she offered hip-hop a new avant-garde hero.

“We weren’t scared to take risks, because our ears hadn’t adjusted to hearing a certain sound. All we were hearing was what we were doing, so it sounded correct to us.”

Missy Elliott

For his part, Timbaland redefined hip-hop production, making tracks full of chirping birds and giggles, laced with hi-hats and snares that stutter and trip in unexpected places. Combined with Missy’s art-bubblegum brilliance, Supa Dupa Fly would have a lasting influence across hip-hop, R&B, and electronic music.