In 1991, an up-and-coming Virginian rapper named Missy Elliott needed the right producer to get her girl group Fayze into shape. To her mind, there was one person suited for the job: Tim Mosley, a neighborhood friend and talented DJ who'd been crafting beats and rhymes with everyone from his classmate Melvin Barcliff (better known as Magoo) to his cousin Pharrell Williams, with whom he'd established a loose collective called S.B.I. (Surrounded by Idiots).
Within a year, Fayze and Tim caught the attention of DeVante Swing, a member of hip-hop/soul group Jodeci. He was also looking to make moves as a mogul, bringing a variety of artists together under the Swing Mob umbrella. Fayze and Tim were among the first to be recruited - although Swing would change Fayze's name to Sista and name Mosley after the trendiest boots on the scene: Timbaland.
Missy and Timbaland have been joined at the hip almost since then, with her prodigious raps and laser-focused songwriting matching his beats and instrumentation like a yin-yang symbol. Here's a look back at four of their best collaborations together.
"Sock It 2 Me" (1997): The title track to Missy's debut album Supa Dupa Fly might be the best remembered today, thanks to that incredible video with her inflatable suit. But the biggest hit off the record was actually the follow-up, which peaked just outside the Top 10 of the U.S. pop charts. Over a strong horn line sampled from a Delfonics record, Missy's quick-fire rhymes here are sung, not rapped - she leaves the flow for guest Da Brat to deliver.
"Hot Boyz (Remix)" (1999): With an all-star line-up of emcees including Nas, Eve and Q-Tip, Missy not only delivered another crowd pleaser with the final single off 1999's Da Real World but set a long-running record with the song, which topped the R&B and hip-hop charts for more weeks than any other song until Lil Nas X came calling with "Old Town Road" 20 years later.
"Get Ur Freak On" (2001): "Quiiiiiet!!!" On third album Miss E...So Addictive, Missy and Tim were ready to take things to a whole new level. "Get Ur Freak On" found Elliott at her most vocally confident, delivering rhymes at dizzying stop-start tempos. And the track, set to a hypnotic bhangra-inspired hook on tabla and tumbi, remains one of the most potent dance-floor fillers of the last 25 years. It also won Missy her first of three Grammys for Best Female Rap Solo Performance.
"Work It" (2003): Her fourth album might've been titled Under Construction, but "Work It" was built to last. Every moment here is a winner, from the "ra-ta-ta"s and "ba-donk-a-donk"s to the ingenious reversed lines - little wonder, then, that it became Missy's highest charting hit ever, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.