Record of the Day: Missy Elliott, "Supa Dupa Fly"

Record of the Day: Missy Elliott, “Supa Dupa Fly”

Missy Elliott
Supa Dupa Fly (Cd Elektra 7659-62813-2)

The lightning-fast debut of Missy Elliott, one of the true protagonists of current African-American music, “Supa Dupa Fly” dates back to 1997 and still sounds as fresh as if it had just been released, something that rarely happens with rap and hip-hop albums.
Thanks to the careful production of Timbaland and with the help of numerous guests including Busta Rhymes, Da Brat, the 702 and the late Aaliyah (soul music star who died in 2001 at just 22 years old in a plane crash) Missy indulges herself in compositions often based on samples of old soul and funk songs (but there is also a base sampled from the reggae classic “Pass the Dutchie”).

Missy's voice is capable of showing off warm, expressive tones (as in the languid “Friendly Skies”) and soon after machine-gunning
raps like “They Don't Wanna Fuck with Me”, “Don't Be Commin' (In My Face)” and “Sock It to Me” saturated with violent, urban language, capable of fully expressing the voice of her generation and make her among the few artists capable of rivaling blockbuster names such as Eminem and Jay-Z in skill and success.

Excellent author, producer, singer (and also owner of a successful label) Missy has been able to manage very well her image as a tough girl who never lacks a touch of humor both in her vocal performances and in her lyrics, not exactly like those of a schoolgirl, pitted with skill full of verbal swing.

In the space of a few years, thanks to other infallible albums such as “Da Real World”, “Under Construction”, “This Is Not a Test” and “The Cookbook”, through dynamite singles such as “We Run This” and “Get U Freak on” Missy has become a point of reference for the latest generations of American kids by selling millions of records, taking part in films, winning many MTV Awards and Grammys, collaborating with colleagues such as Janet Jackson and setting stages all over the United States on fire thanks at concerts where the singer spares no expense by distributing energy in heaps.

Unlike too many rap records that favor vocal fireworks over music, Missy's records are also very careful in this respect, with clever arrangements characterized by full-groove backing tracks, clever choruses and continuous homages to the soul tradition from Aretha Franklin to Tamla Motown and Prince.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.