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February is African American Heritage Month and WERS AT NIGHT is honoring one artist or one song every day this month that helped contribute to social consciousness, political responsibility, or civil rights. At WERS, we believe that these songs are always bigger than just entertainment; music can be used to drive a movement or even motivate a nation.
Today we will be honoring female artist Melissa “Missy” Elliott.
Missy has always been an advocate for not only equality for African Americans, but also for women’s rights in the rap community. Her career began in the early 90s. She was involved in an underground group called Fayze. The group later changed their name to Sista to reflect the fact that they were an all-women rap group. Their producer was Timothy Mosley, known now as Timbaland. The group moved to New York and began to become more mainstream in the R&B industry. Sadly, the group fell apart by 1995, and each member went their separate ways.
Missy went on to pursue her own career as both an artist and a producer. Women are typically not recognized as being as qualified as men in the industry she was working for. She began as a featured artist on different tracks. Within two years of splitting from Sista, Missy had her very own album released, which was extremely uncommon. Her music is targeted to appeal to men and be relatable to women. Her female audience can feel empowered when listening to her music while men are interested in the beat and production. Missy’s videos also set her apart from other artists. She uses intriguing costumes and makeup to make her videos more interesting. Her videos also feature dance numbers with groups of other women. Not to be left out, there are also men in her videos. By doing this, Missy connects both sexes to represent them as equal.
More recently, Missy performed at a concert called Black Girls Rock! She and many other female artists performed for the BET program on November 4, 2012. To this day, Missy is an advocate for African American women’s rights.