Top 10 Songs by Missy Elliott

One can’t deny the impact Missy Elliott has had on hip-hop music. As one of the best-selling female rappers, she has four Grammy Awards and multiple hits to her name over the course of her more than 30-year career.

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In 2019, Elliott received the distinct honor of being the first female rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. A trailblazer for other female rappers who follow in her footsteps, Elliott is an artist who not only defined hip-hop and R&B in the 1990s and 2000s but has impacted the genre at large. Below, we look at 10 of Elliott’s best songs.

1. “Get Ur Freak On”

The instantly recognizable beat is undeniably Elliott. The rapper oozes confidence from start to finish, making you believe every word as she sings, including such lyrics as Missy be puttin’ it down / I’m the hottest ’round / I told y’all mother-ooh / Y’all can’t stop me now. Produced by frequent collaborator Timbaland, the melody intriguingly blends cultures, drawing from the sounds of the Punjab region of South Asia to give it a unique flavor and makes it one of the most identifiable hip-hop songs of the early 2000s.

I know you dig the way I sw-sw-switch my style
People sing around
Now people gather ’round
Now people jump around

Go, get your freak on
Go, get your freak on
Go, get your freak on
Go, get your freak on

2. “Work It”

“Work It” isn’t just a song, it’s an experience. Elliott and Timbaland co-wrote and co-produced this fire track that doesn’t sound like anything else. Between the ferocious beat and the signature reversal of the line I put my thing down, flip it, and reverse it in the chorus that sounds like a needle scratching on vinyl, Elliott uses the lyrics to drop such wisdom as Ain’t no shame ladies, do your thing / Just make sure you ahead of the game. “Work It” became her highest charting single on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching a peak of No. 2, and like “Freak” it’s one of the songs that has defined her career.

Come on
Is it worth it? Let me work it
I put my thang down, flip it and reverse it

3. “Lose Control”

With an intoxicating melody that immediately grabs one’s ears, “Lose Control” is hands down one of Elliott’s best songs. Co-written and produced by the singer, the distinguishable beat matched with lyrics make it pure fun. Ciara is a solid addition, taking the song to new heights, and ultimately climbing to No. 3 on the Hot 100. Similar to her early hits, “Lose Control” is distinguishably Elliott.

Everybody here
Get it outta control
Get yo backs off tha wall
‘Cause Misdemeanor said so

4. “Hot Boyz”

Elliott’s songs always have interesting production, and that rings true for “Hot Boyz.” This song allows her voice to shine, showing off her sweet vocals more than some of her other hits. The solo version stands on its own, but the remixed version featuring Nas, Eve, and Q-Tip set it over the top. The track spent a record 18 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart. If you’re exploring Elliott’s catalog, this is definitely worth lending an ear to.

Hot boyz (Say what?)
Baby, you got what I want
See, ’cause y’all be drivin’ Lexus jeeps
And the Benz jeeps and the Lincoln jeeps

5. “Back in the Day”

Elliott and Jay-Z on the same song is a match made in musical heaven. The two hip-hop legends deliver on “Back in the Day,” taking a more understated approach by looking back on the good old days when hip-hop was so much fun and provided stress-relieving music.

In addition to referencing a list of famous hip-hop artists, the song draws attention to the genre’s more peaceful days, with Elliott singing point blank at the end of the chorus, back in the day / hip-hop has changed. “Back in the Day” offers a refreshing perspective on the modern hip-hop landscape from two artists who’ve helped shape it, making it a standout Elliott’s catalog.

Go back in the day
British knights and gold chains
Do the prep and cabbage patch
And wear your laces all fat
Back in the day, hey hey hey
Hip-hop has changed

6. “Sock it 2 Me”

“Sock It” offers a different sound than her hits that later defined the genre. Leaning more into R&B, “Sock it 2 Me” marks the starting point of Elliott proving herself as a force in the world of hip-hop and R&B. The NSFW lyrics are layered with violins over a hip-hop beat, making it a classic 90s hip-hop song that set the stage for Elliott’s future success.

Ooh ah, sock it to me like you want to, ooh
I can take it like a pro and you’ll know (know)
Do a long throw with a backstroke (hey)
My hormones are jumpin’ like a disco (hey)

7. “Take Away”

With “Take Away,” Elliott strips away the larger-than-life hip-hop persona, instead leaning into love. With a guest appearance by Ginuwine, the lyrics of “Take Away” have Elliott professing that she cares more about her man’s character as opposed to his material possessions. Elliott promises that she’s not in it for the cash and that if he were to lose his platinum and gold chains I’m gonna love you baby. “Take Away” injects some heart into Elliott’s work, making it a must-listen.

Take away (oh, yeah), your gold and platinum chains
(Oh, and I’m gonna love you baby)
‘Cause I’m gon’ love (ooh-ooh), love you anyway
(I ain’t in it for the cheddar, baby)

8. “Nothing Out There For Me”

Like “Back in the Day,” this call-and-response style song finds Elliott trading vocals with none other than Beyonce. Here, Beyonce sings of being with a man who holds her back. Elliott plays the role of a supportive friend who denounces his actions through such lyrics as live your life / you ain’t even his wife. It’s the stuff of 90s hip-hop dreams and the two naturally play off each other, making it a gem like “Back in the Day” featuring Beyonce’s future husband, Jay-Z.

Ain’t nothing out there for me
Ain’t nothing about there for me
This is where I want to be
I done already been in the streets
And I ain’t came across nothin’ so sweet
He’s the only man that I love

9. “4 My People”

“4 My People” is guaranteed to get you moving, transporting the listener inside a club throbbing with the sound of music as the DJ is droppinneedles where the music’s bangin’ way down in my soul. Elliott makes you feel like you’re dancing alongside her in this fierce track that became an international hit, charting in multiple countries in Europe.

The music’s bangin’, way down in my soul
When you dance behind me, I lose all control
Make me grind my hips, make me move my waist
When the music come on, you take my breath away

10. “Bring the Pain”

“Pain” feels a bit more down-to-earth than some of her other hits. Here, the rapper meets a man who entices her with the way he’s spittin’ the game, admiring his attitude and spunk while changing her mind from thinkin’ all guys the same. “Pain” is a gem on her critically acclaimed Under Construction album, which reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200.

I came to bring the pain, hardcore to the brain
Ooh, baby, what’s your name? (Huh?)
I love the way you’re spittin’ the game
You made me change from thinkin’ all guys the same

Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images

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