Behind The Mic: The epic ‘Get Ur Freak On’ by Missy Elliott
(Credit: Alamy/Hip Hop Hero)


Behind The Mic: The epic 'Get Ur Freak On' by Missy Elliott

Missy Elliott was one of the most successful female rappers in hip-hop for a long time and was female rap’s mainstay during the late 1990s and 2000s. Not only did she win a multitude of Grammys during her tenure, but she also became the first woman ever to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. With humble beginnings, rising to prominence by the side of Timbaland, Elliott was a product of Portsmouth, Virginia.

Raised as an only child by her mother, Elliott lived in the Hodges Ferry neighbourhood of Portsmouth, a suburb of the larger Virginia city of Norfolk, where she met Timbaland. Together, they became part of the local crew Swing Mob. However, her career would not begin properly until her departure from the collective with her producer friend.

Becoming inseparable, the two continued to make music and ended up writing and producing for R’n’B acts, such as Aaliyah, SWV and Total. However, wanting to be at the forefront, in 1997, Elliott released her debut album, Supa Dupa Flyand from there her career skyrocketed. Elliott’s first album would spawn her a top 20 hit, ‘Sock It 2 Me’. The album landed at number three on the Billboard 200, becoming the highest-charting debut LP for a female rapper. Continuing to work alongside her good friend, Elliot would release her second record, Da Real World, in 1999, and by 2000, the album was quickly certified platinum by the RIAA.

In 2001 Missy Elliot released the precursor to her most successful album. Elliott’s ’01 album, Miss E…So Addictive debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart, and spawned a number of platinum-certified hits including the likes of ‘One Minute Man’ featuring Ludacris and ‘4 My People’. Executively produced by Timbaland, the album was groundbreaking but one track in particular really took the clubs by storm and that was ‘Get Ur Freak On’.

‘Get Ur Freak On’ was the lead single for the album and was commercially successful in the US and internationally. Recorded at Westlake Recording Studios in West Hollywood, the beat was produced by both Timbaland and Elliott and was inspired by music Timbaland had heard on his travels.

Inspired by Bhangra music, Mosley used a one-stringed guitar called a tumbi to make the beat, and recorded the individual notes into a keyboard. From there he proceeded to make the iconic beat. Although the melody and drums are all original the track does contain one obscure vocal sample. From the sample pack ‘Deepest India’ assembled by Zero-G with added vocals from Master Dilbahar the song ‘Larka 1.1.’appears in the track briefly.

Regarding the song’s chorus, lyrics and meaning Elliott told music publication Blender in 2007, “It could be about dancing – the bedroom, whatever. You’re cleaning your house? Get your freak on!” The music video for the track was different to the rapper’s previous visuals. ‘Get Ur Freak On’ was the rapper’s first music video collaboration without Hype Williams who had provided the rapper with amazing visuals for tracks such as ‘The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)’.

In an interview with Amy Linden, Elliot clarified why stating, “You see, I change my music and I change my image at the same time. I felt like as long as me and Hype continued to work together we would probably keep it going in the same kinda of direction.” The music video for ‘Get Ur Freak On’ features cameos from Ludacris, LL Cool J, Ja Rule, Busta Rhymes and more.

Timbaland almost lost the beat for ‘Get Ur Freak On’. You can listen to Elliot explain the frantic situation to Rick Rubin in the video below. You can also see the music video below.