Missy Elliott works it, OutKast drop a mighty hit and one the great soul men all time is born — on this day in hip-hop history.
2002: Missy Elliott drops "Work It"
She flipped it and reversed it, all right, and by doing so, Miss E. made “Work It” her biggest hit. First, there’s that old-school groove that Timbaland cooked up — part “Peter Piper,” part alien transmission from some planet where it’s still 1980. Then, there are Elliott’s naughty come-ons (like “I'd like to get to know ya so I could show ya / Put the pussy on ya like I told ya” — and that’s just the first lines the first verse), which are built around that hook — “Put my thing down, flip it and reverse it,” followed by backwards gibberish, which is actually “Put my thing down, flip it and reverse it,” reversed. It was perfect and hip and sexy and nasty and it hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and stayed there for 10 weeks.
“Work It” was part the overall traditional vibe Elliott and Timbaland were going for on the album Under Construction. “What's different about this album is it's old school, it's like how music used to be,” Elliott told Entertainment Tonight at the time. “It's going to educate the younger kids who might not know how far back hip-hop goes — because for the younger generation, they kind think hip-hop starts at Jay-Z, Nas, Missy Elliott, whoever — but it goes farther back than that.“
2003: OutKast drop "Hey Ya!"
OutKast were everywhere in 2003 — you couldn’t escape them, because they put out two enormous singles f what will likely stand as their final classic album, the double set Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (actually consisting solo records from André 3000 and Big Boi). While “The Way You Move” was a definitive hip-hop jam (all rap in the verses, all R&B in the chorus), “Hey Ya!” was something else entirely, a freaky acoustic pop song with a heavy synth bass and handclaps aplenty. And when André gets into the “Shake it like a Polaroid picture” breakdown, you can’t help but surrender to his charms and do what he demands, whether you’re at home, on the dance floor, or in your car.
1941: Otis Redding is born
One the greatest soul men to ever stand at the mic and pour his heart out to an audience, Otis Redding was born on this day in Dawson, Ga. From his first hit, “These Arms Mine” (1962) to his final one, “(Sittin’ on) The Dock the Bay” (1967), Redding wrote and recorded some the most indelible soul songs ever put on vinyl — songs like "Try a Little Tenderness,” “I’ve Been Loving You,” and “Respect,” which became a massive hit for Aretha Franklin. Redding was killed in an airplane crash in 1967, only a few days after recording "(Sittin' on) The Dock the Bay," at just 26 years old.
1962: Jerome Benton the Time is born
Morris Day’s mirror-bearing manservant and the Time’s secondary focal point was born on this day to a family that also included Time bassist and famed producer Terry Lewis, Jerome’s brother.
1965: MC Shan is born
The man who gave us “The Bridge” and Snow’s 1992 earworm “Informer” came into the world this day, in Queensbridge, N.Y.
1977: Soulja Slim is born
Raise a toast to Soulja Slim, who wrote and performed on Juvenile’s “Slow Motion,” and who left this plane existence in 2003, before he could see it become a No. 1 hit in 2004.
1986: Yung Berg is born
Happy birthday, Christian Ward, who goes by Hitmaka now, but who was introduced to us as Yung Berg when he recorded “Sexy Lady” and “Sexy Can I” in 2007. “Sexy Can I,” credited to Ray J featuring Yung Berg, hit No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2008.