Let's start here: No woman in hip-hop has sold more records in the history of the Nielsen ratings. Not Queen Latifah. Not Lauryn Hill. Not Lil Kim or Foxy. Not Nicki Minaj. No one. There’s this woman. And then there’s everyone else. 

We can also start here: She singlehandedly changed the very identity of what a performer could look and sound like—owning her style unapologetically. If you don’t understand how finger waves and garbage bags could change a generation of—
Wait. We’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s talk about being legendary. 

Supa Dupa Fly, the album that came out a few months after “Da Rain,” was even weirder and better than the single could’ve led us to expect. The album was packed with big-name guest stars: Busta Rhymes, Lil Kim, Aaliyah, Ginuwine. But Missy and Timbaland weren’t switching up their styles to accommodate their more-famous friends. Instead, they were transporting their guests to their own new universe. Supa Dupa Fly was an album full of new sounds and new ideas. “Sock It 2 Me” had Da Brat promising to “hit hard like penitentiary dick” over slowed, muted horn-bursts and echoing bird-tweets. 

Beep Me 911″ sounded like a sweaty Toni Braxton slow-jam being devoured by the godlike computer-being from The Lawnmower Man. “Izzy Izzy Ahh” was a burst of pure, giddy gibberish over a bassline strong enough to power about 15 different Chemical Brothers remixes. When I learned that Timbaland had sampled Björk’s “Jòga” on a “Hit Em Wit Da Hee” remix, everything suddenly snapped into focus. It was like these two Virginian R&B-business insiders had chewed up all the electronic music that white kids like me had thought was so cutting-edge, they’d reshaped and retooled and improved it, and then they’d used it to take over rap radio. It was so inspiring.
And all that goes back to the sight of the lady in the trash-bag suit. That video was a perfect marriage of sound and vision, and everything that Missy and Timbaland did for about the next decade delivered on its promise. There are lots of people with great musical ideas. There are only a few who got the chance to use those ideas to change music for the better. Missy and Timbaland did that. Now let’s watch some videos.

Timbaland Speaks on Recoding the Album: "What really stands out to me about recording Supa Dupa Fly now is how much fun we were having. It wasn’t about radio, it wasn’t about Is this a hit? It was just Ooh this feels good. This is jumpin’. We can’t wait to play this for our friends in the neighborhood. We didn’t know that it would be big across the world but we knew it was different and we knew that we had something that could be valuable to the world. The studio was like our playground. You work but sometimes it’s about looking at other things, watching videos, having conversations. A day in the studio was more like a day outside on the block.