JACKSONVILLE, Alabama – Female rap artist Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott may be known for her innovative artistry, but her non-stop work ethic in the donation department adds even more credibility to her name.
The five-time Grammy award winner first started her musical reign as a member of the short-lived 1990s R&B quartet Sista. After dispersing from the girl group in 1995, Missy Elliott would go on to serve as a vocal teacher, writer and producer for musicians like Busta Rhymes (“It’s a Party – Remix”), Mariah Carey (“Babydoll”), Ginuwine (“I’ll Do Anything/I’m Sorry”), Paula Cole (“Feelin’ da Love”), Diddy (“It’s All About the Benjamins”) and the late Aaliyah (“One in a Million”).
After finding success behind the scenes, Elliott went on to cement her legacy with the 1997 recording “Supa Dupa Fly.” Since then, Elliott has attained a series of record-breaking hits and iconic music videos, and has more recently taken the world by storm with her spotlight-stealing performance at the 2015 Super Bowl Half-Time show.
But it is not only her futuristic sounds and performances that keep fans in awe, Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott has been highly active in the philanthropic scene. Since the late 90s, Elliott has been involved in a variety of campaigns that donate funds to medical research in eliminating HIV/AIDS, alongside foundations that educate youths of ways to overcome abuse.
Among her earliest charitable contributions, Elliott served as the first hip-hop musician in history to perform at the all-female tour festival Lilith Fair, where millions of dollars were raised for various charitable foundations that entailed research for breast cancer and AIDS.
In 1999, the “Get Ur Freak On” hit-maker went on to make an even bigger difference, when she launched a lipstick line with supermodel Iman called “Misdemeanor Lipstick.” Proceeds garnered from the product went toward Break the Cycle, a nonprofit organization that works to eradicate domestic violence in young individuals.
Elliot became a national spokesperson for the company; not only for her moving fundraiser launch, but for her continual efforts as a key outlet for those, especially of the female gender, who have endured and survived abusive environments.
Aside from working as a key speaker for women who have endured abuse, Missy Elliott has additionally served as a longtime proponent for urging the awareness of AIDS. In October 2002, Elliott signed on with Dave Matthews Band for participation as a performer in MTV’s Experience Music Project, a commercial-free concert that supported the campaign Fight Your Rights: Protect Yourself. The event was broadcasted worldwide on World AIDS Day (December 1) to an audience of over two billion people.
Elliott also took part in promotional commercials for HIV awareness. From 2002 to 2004, the infomercials were featured on televised networks such as MTV.
Additionally, Elliott, along with Beyoncé and Alicia Keys announced the proposal of 100 free tickets to their 2004 nationwide tour for those willing to take an HIV screening test. The incentive was used to further generate awareness and prevention.
Never the one to shy away from discussing politics in music, Missy Elliott teamed up with childhood friend Timbaland on a 2004 recording, “The World Is Ours,” which was slated to serve as a charity single to create awareness for AIDS and further benefit the YouthAIDS organization. The song was additionally planned to feature accompanying vocals from former Timbaland protégés Kiley Dean & Bubba Sparxxx, alongside former *NSYNC vocalist Justin Timberlake; however, due to unknown reasons, “The World Is Ours” was never released.
Despite the project’s shelving, the “Lose Control” phenomenon would go onto embark on other opportunities to provide AIDS awareness.
In 2005, Elliott and pop songstress Christina Aguilera were featured in the Viva Glam V Lipstick campaign, as part of the innovative organization MAC AIDS Fund. Elliott’s participation in the campaign would go on to accumulate millions of dollars for every MAC Cosmetics product purchased; proceeds from the sales would go directly toward medical research in alleviating HIV/AIDS.
Later in the year, during a London concert, Missy Elliott helped generate over $30,000 for the HIV/AIDS prevention program Staying Alive Foundation on behalf of MAC AIDS Fund. Elliott’s tireless efforts as an AIDS philanthropist would later earn her recognition as both a key ambassador and a national spokesperson for MAC AIDS Fund.
In Jan. 2008, Elliott earned credibility as an inductee of Vanity Fair’s “Hall of Fame,” where Elliott was named as one of MAC Cosmetics’ spokespeople of the past decade for her continual workmanship as an AIDS activist.
Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott should not be limited to her status as an innovative musician, but should be fairly noted as a courageous philanthropist that strives to make a life-impacting difference.
– Jeff Varner