The world became a little more funky on this day in 1997, as it was the day when Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott released Supa Dupa Fly, her stunning, instant-classic debut that changed the way people thought about mainstream hip-hop. In dropping Supa Dupa Fly, Elliott — along with friend, producer and regular tag-team partner Timbaland — created a whole new universe full of syncopated beats, twitchy dance grooves and stream-of-consciousness lyrics that often flirted with the absurd.
Elliott and Timbaland had already been making waves behind the scenes before the release of Supa Dupa Fly, most notably on Aaliyah’s One in a Million (she had also written and produced tracks for Jodeci, SWV and 702). Elliott had also become a coveted guest artist, dropping in on tracks and remixes for the likes of New Edition, LSG and MC Lyte. All the while, Elliott and Timbaland were hard at work crafting their own set of bizarre tracks destined to become Supa Dupa Fly.
Supa Dupa Fly is a tremendously well-balanced album, full of thick beats and hook-filled grooves that often have two or three independent snatches of melody all working together and blurring the line between straight-up hip-hop and sultry R&B. There’s the menacing “Sock It 2 Me” (featuring a tongue-twisting guest appearance by Da Brat), the fluttering “Beep Me 911,” the swirling “Izzy Izzy Ahh” and the deceptively deep “Pass da Blunt.” But Supa Dupa Fly‘s greatest contribution (and the main reason why it sold over one million copies) was “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” a strange, hypnotic bit of icy funk that featured Elliott’s strange flow, Timbaland’s penchant for shape-shifting bass grooves, mysterious bits of melody and the immortal line “Beep beep/ Who got the keys to the jeep?/ Vroom!” It also gave birth to one of the greatest hip-hop videos ever made, which features lots of fish eye lenses, jagged dancing and Elliott’s famous “trash bag” costume.