Splash FM Website of the Day, 1st August 2005. Be Impressed.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Missy Elliott – The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)

Posting R Kelly the other week made me realise that I’ve shamefully overlooked all the really great R&B that came out in 1997. And it doesn’t get much greater than Missy Elliott’s reworking of Ann Peebles’ classic I Can’t Stand the Rain.

Although Supa Dupa Fly was Elliott’s debut album she had served a long apprenticeship with The Swing Mob – a group of around 20 musicians brought together by Jodeci main man DeVante Swing. The Swing Mob all lived in a single, two-storey house in New York writing and producing their own material as well as songs for Jodeci and other acts. Although this should have produced something akin to a hip-hop version of The Young Ones, it actually produced a close-knit group of talented musicians including Magoo, Playa, Ginuwine and Tweet – with whom Elliott is so close they have been rumoured to be having an affair. The Swing Mob also contained Elliott’s childhood friend and producer DJ Timmy Tim – who DeVante Swing did the huge favour of renaming Timbaland.

It’s difficult, and a little scary, to think what R&B would sound like if it hadn’t been for Timbaland and Elliott. In the early-mid 90’s R&B was still struggling to overcome what happened to it in the 80’s. R Kelly was plugging away at the fag-end of New Jack Swing and Mary J Blige brought a bit edge to the Whitney Houston sound but still sounded marginally less interesting than a day-trip to Cumberland Pencil Museum. Today is rare to hear an R&B song which doesn’t feature Elliott/Timbaland style syncopated beats. Elliott may also be the reason why the distaff side of R&B is by far the most interesting.

As well as being a killer song, The Rain also had a stunning video by Hype Williams. Although Williams bears considerable responsibility for the ‘Pimps & Hoes’ aesthetic which makes every hip-hop video look like a Britney wedding and suggests that Bin Laden may have a point about the degradation of Western culture; when he tries he really creates something special. Possibly inspired by Elliott’s considerable girth at the time, he had the genius idea of putting her in a black, blow-up, rubber suit and have her sway around like a Weeble.

Missy Elliott – The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)

Buy Supa Dupa Fly

Listen Ann Peebles session for Andy Kershaw


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