With a little more than 20 years as a performer and six platinum-certified records to boast, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott hit her 41st year this July 1. Though she's been largely absent from the public eye these past couple of years, her impact on the modern hip-hop and R&B scene is undeniable.
Equal parts full performer, provocateur, and innovator, Elliott came out with a strong voice in 1997's debut album, Supa Dupa Fly, and carried it through to 2005's The Cookbook, all the while gathering numerous production and cowriting credits with superstars like childhood friend Timbaland and too many others to list here.
Though her early life was mired by the horrors of familial abuse and a struggle with the autoimmune disorder Graves' disease, Elliott has managed to turn her experiences into positive catalysts that are marked by a subtle blend of lounge, psychedelics, and abstract weirdness. Who can forget the blown-up lawn bag outfit in 1997's "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)" video?