This success, coupled with her willingness to play to the image of a hip-hop caricature, resulted in some jewelry of Gaddafi-esque proportions.

Missy Elliott is the first cartoon lady of hip hop. She has taken the term ‘larger than life’ and wrapped it in a diamond encrusted fat suit. She emcees with noises that don’t make sense but are so catchy you scratch your ears for weeks after. Like Busta Rhymes in the nineties, she was pure hyper-coloured, hip hop cliche, all bombastic lyrics and bold primary colour schemes, and we loved her for it. Her reign at the top of the game stretched from the late nineties through to the mid-noughties, coinciding with Timbaland’s absolute dominance in the charts. Let’s be real, he could’ve recorded Gwyneth Paltrow screaming her favourite quinoa soup recipe into a box of Frosties and it would’ve topped the charts for seven weeks.

This success, coupled with her willingness to play to the image of a hip hop caricature, resulted in some jewellery of Gaddafi-esque proportions. Usually most artists have just one signature chain they are known for, but Missy took it to the next level by having two signature chains, both as extravagant and self obsessed as each other.

The first, and lesser known, is her purple diamond encrusted ‘Cancer’ chain, in recognition of her zodiac star sign. Usually worn for public appearances rather than in videos, it’s one of those pieces that is so powerfully shiny and diamond beleaguered that it looks fake, only for you to realise that Missy Elliott has so much money that she can afford to buy things that are so expensive they look fake. Why? Because money, that’s why.

The second and more ubiquitous chain is the one that can be mostly spotted draped over a garish Adidas two piece in videos and promotional shots. This one really takes the limelight in terms of ego, because it is a diamond encrusted image of her own face. Yes, at the end of a chain that looks like a solid gold marshmallow twist lies the bejewelled outline of her own face circa the ‘Miss E… So Addictive’ album cover. The outline on the chain even features her wearing earrings, in a jewellery moment so meta that the creator of the chain probably committed hari-kiri from overthinking the design.

It really does takes a superb level of self-love to think that your insanely expensive necklace could only be bettered by a picture of your own head. Even the king of vanity, Kanye West, has the image of Jesus as his chain piece. But Missy, being the loveable yet borderline mental character she is, somehow pulls it off with style. It only serves to accentuate the cartoonish image she presents of herself in her videos, and reinforces her larger than life persona that we know and love.

This is an extract from the Summer 14 Issue of Viper Magazine. Read more from the magazine here. Buy physical and digital copies here.

Illustration by Oh! Dear!
Words by Thomas Usher.

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