“People not gon’ really know what to categorize this album,” Elliott said of “So Addictive” in an interview with E! News when it released. “It’s an album for everybody.”
In my case, it’s the common-ground album that my parents and I can agree to listen to on family road trips. Its eclectic sounds, syncopated rhythms and interrupting adlibs (“Is that your chick?”) provide a safe middle ground for miles of multigenerational listening, the perfect bridge between one audience who likes Megan Thee Stallion and Billie Eilish and another who prefers 1970s George Clinton and Parliament funk.
The palate-pleasing qualities of Elliott’s music goes beyond a family car. It is displayed with the undefinable experimentation of her third studio album “Miss E… So Addictive.” The 2001 project crafted by Elliott and producer Timbaland includes funky bass, sitar plucks, and orchestral horns that push the genre-blending envelope with each song.
The eclectic tracklist hopscotches from chart-topping hits like “Get Ur Freak On” and “One Minute Man feat. Ludacris” to inspired collaborations with rappers Method Man and Redman (“Dog in Heat”) and gospel singer Yolanda Adams (“Higher Ground”).
Longtime entertainment journalist Michael Musto interviewed Elliott in 1999 after the release of her sophomore project “Da Real World” and said she showed “star power” long before she premiered “So Addictive.”
“I thought she had the assurance of somebody who had arrived,” Musto says of the Virginia-born rapper and songwriter. “It already felt like ‘this is a seasoned artist’ off her second album.”
Her third album catapulted her into the upper echelons of the music industry. The 18-track album peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 43 weeks. A little more than two months after its release, “So Addictive” went platinum.
Elliott’s first two solo Grammys were housed within “So Addictive.” During the 44th annual ceremony she knocked out her all-male competition and won best rap solo performance for “Get Ur Freak On.” A year later at the 45th awards, the album’s sixth track, “Screaming a.k.a Itching,” won best female rap solo performance.
The set of BET’s “106 & Park” experienced the TV premiere of “Get Ur Freak On.” Former hip-hop journalist Marc Weingarten was there when the world got it’s first look at a video full of celebrity cameos, a repulsive spit take, ghostly painted dancers and the female emcee dressed in a denim vest with rhinestones arranged in a paisley pattern (the heavy 2000s lip liner and gloss combo was also in effect).
“People flipped out on it.” Weingarten says. “Being a cynical journalist I was like, ‘Well OK you know, this is what they’re supposed to do’.”
His cynicism was crushed after finding out that the standing ovation the “Get Ur Freak On” video received was not TV magic. Weingarten says it was “completely spontaneous” and was the first standing ovation “106 & Park” ever saw.
“I was like ‘OK she is completely taking this in a new direction,’ ” he says. “The audience that day at ‘106,’ they got it right away.”
Videos like “Get Ur Freak On” along with the future visuals that would come from songs like “Work It” and “Pass That Dutch” landed Elliott the VMAs’ career-achievement Video Vanguard Award in 2019. The creativity in her songwriting and production skills crowned her as the first female rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame that same year. Albums like “Miss E… So Addictive” are what will keep her fans compelled (and my family road trips fight-free) for decades to come.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Missy Elliott ‘Miss E… So Addictive’ at 20: ‘An album for everybody’