December 2, 2018
Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images
Can you imagine if we never got Aaliyah‘s “One In A Million” (the song and the album)? Well, it almost didn’t happen because Missy Elliott was afraid to pitch songs to the R&B legend since she was new to the game and her writing style was more rap than R&B.
The rapper and Timbaland teamed up to write eight songs on the album. The 1996 album went on to sell eight million copies worldwide.
The songwriter told Billboard: “I was scared. I don’t know if Tim was scared when we first played it because it was a different sound. It was a different way to attack records because people were really singing then; that world of rap-singing didn’t really exist. Because I wasn’t really a singer like that, that’s why I wrote like that, because I was a rapper, but I didn’t know how to do a bunch of runs, so every record that I would attack, I would attack it like I’m rap-singing it.”
But clearly that unique style didn’t scare the late songstress away. Elliott even admitted that radio stations didn’t want to play “One In A Million”: “…they couldn’t blend it in, they couldn’t mix it in with records before it or after it because the cadence hadn’t been done before.”
The “Work It” rapper continues to sing her praises til this day and brags about how her influence on music.
“She had an ear and she knew what that music made her feel like. She was next level to understand that this is some next level [music]. This is not just the sound that’s going on right now — this is a new sound that is being created. This whole movement is new.”
Missy just received her nomination for the 2019 Songwriters Hall of Fame class. If inducted, she would be the first female rapper to enter the organization and the third overall rapper after Jay-Z and Jermaine Dupri. The producer has written songs not only for herself, but for other singers and rappers that have hit top spots on the charts. Remember Ciara’s “1,2 Step,” 702′s “Where My Girls At,” Tweet’s “Oops (Oh My),” Destiny’s Child‘s “Confessions,” and Monica’s “So Gone”? Those were all penned by the lyricist.
The infamous songwriter says it’s harder to write songs for herself than for other artists. “It’s been amazing to give them a voice,” she said about writing for other female performers.
“We build a friendship beyond music, but I’m always humbled that they trust me. And I always ask them, before doing a song, what are you going through?”
She credits conversations with her girlfriends as the motivation behind her songwriting.
“I would be around friends and a lot of times…everybody’s just laughing and playing, but I would listen to the stories and use those in songs because they were like everyday topics for the girls that I hung around [with]. They didn’t know that, but I was just sitting there like, ‘Wow, that’s a song.’”
Talk about art imitating life. You better write, Missy!
TELL US: What artist would you love to see Missy Elliott collaborate with?