“Work It” by Missy Elliot

“Work It” is a track released by Missy Elliot in 2002 as part of her “Under Construction” album. Bedroom intimacy is apparently the song’s primary. For example, the line: “If you got a big, let me search ya’ ‘to find out how hard I gotta work ya” seems to talk about a man’s hardness and how much work she has to do to get him to feel better.

Furthermore, she talks about getting to know a man so she can get intimate with him. She asks the men to give her their contacts so she can contact them. Her sole objective is to make herself available for them when their women misbehave. She also explains that she’s kinky and will prefer to be intimate with a man on the sofa instead of the bed.

She goes on to talk about her figure; about how her body is just perfect for him, including how she has lost some weight around her waist just for him.

In the next verse, she seems to advice ladies to pay attention to their appearance if they want to be ‘fly’ like getting their nails done. She also mentions that she can take care of a man even though she’s not a working girl. Missy concludes by advising girls to do what they want and not be ashamed.

Summary: The track ‘Work It’ is mostly about sex though it also subtly talks about a woman valuing herself and doing what she wants without shame.

A Detailed Analysis of the Lyrics of “Work It”

This is a sex song, a fact that you probably don’t need us to tell you. So instead of focusing on Missy’s blatant desire to bump and grind with a dude who has a big (blank), we will instead delve into what is being presented in the verses.

At the beginning of the first verse, we see that the person(s) she is addressing already has a girlfriend.  So Missy is letting him know that if homegirl starts to act up, then she is more than willing to take on her place in a sexual capacity.  And this fantasy entails she and the addressee doing it on his sofa as opposed to on a bed.

Contrarily, if he rather decides to come to her place, then he should call first.  And this is so that she can shave her pubic hair beforehand.  Also, she idealizes this dude performing cunnilingus on her.  And evidently in the name of appearing more attractive in his eyes, she has proceeded to ‘lose a few pounds’ in the waist area.  Then Elliott concludes to verse by relaying a number of utterances pointing to the notion of good sex begin waged between the two of them, i.e. her desire to be a giver and recipient of a sound performance.  And it is her personal resolve in such a manner which also metaphorically highlights the chorus.

The second verse commences with the vocalist encouraging her fellow females to make themselves look nice, seemingly for the purpose of attracting men.  The setting of the song then shifts to her interacting with a romantic interest – perhaps in a nightclub or similar type of venue – and recommending vodka as a relaxant.  During this interaction, the vocalist is confident of her physical attractiveness, perhaps due to following the beauty procedure put forth at the beginning of the passage.  Indeed at this point the lyrics take more of a braggadocious approach, with Missy touting her superiority over other ladies to the addressee, on top of her ability to make him “hot”.

The vocalist then goes on to elaborate that she’s “not a prostitute” or anything like that.  Rather, she’s just found a guy who really turns her on.  And what she likes about him is his “braids” and his “mouth full of” gold teeth.  She also proceeds to use her sizable booty to seduce him, with expectations that he will in fact work it.  And as for her personally, she enjoys having sex with the lights on, so that he can watch her in action.

In the bridge, Missy reveals that she appreciates “all types of boys” and proceeds to give a shoutout to a spectrum of different types (i.e. races) to prove the point.  Elliott then proceeds to also recognize all of the “girls” in the house, inspiring them to shake their moneymakers indeed in the name of generating cash.  This song came out a bit before stripper anthems really took over hip-hop, and also, this track aside, Missy was never really on it like that.  So we would presume that what she is saying is something like in addition to using dudes for sex, the sistren should take their money also.

And speaking of Missy Elliott not really being on it like that, the third verse steers the listener in a completely different direction than the two previous.  Here the songstress uses the opportunity primarily to big up her standing in the rap game. She also goes way out on a tangent, considering the overall nature of Work It, by expressing how Black people, such as herself, will never again be oppressed as in days past.  Then eventually, after dropping another chorus and break, Missy proceeds to salute a number of classic hip-hop acts, including the likes of MC Lyte and Salt n Pepa. 

Additionally she goes on to mention Michael Jackson, in kind of a confusing sorta way.  But all wording considered, it appears that she is alluding to him being effeminate.  And doing so serves as her roundabout way of saying dissing “half of these thugs”, i.e. the dudes she comes across who try to play tough, as in reality they are actually sissies.

But again, whereas Missy may delve into other topics before closing out, Work It is still very much a sex song. And the thesis sentiment is that she likes giving and receiving good sex.

Facts about “Work It”

The track was produced by Tim ‘Timbaland’ Mosley as part of the album “Under Construction” released in 2002 which was her fourth studio album. It was one of the album’s singles.

Tim also helped Missy Elliot in writing the song.

The track falls under the genre of hip hop – the old school kind or dirty rap.

In the same year it was released, it made it to number 75 of the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. About five weeks after it hit the billboard, it was part of the top ten at number eight. In two months after appearing on the billboard, it made it to an impressive number two and stayed there for over two months. 

This track is known to be Missy’s most successful single. It even won her a Grammy in the category of the “Best Female Rap Solo Performance” in 2003.

Chart Performance

  • US (2)
  • UK (2)
  • New Zealand (3)
  • Belgium (2)
  • Australia (6)
Work It

2 Responses

  1. madison says:

    I don’t like her, I LOVE HER SOOOO MUCH I AM A FAN

  2. Heather says:

    I also REALLY LOVE Missy Elliott!!! I am 40 (and fabulous) and I went through HS in the 90’s. Turned 21 y/o the year this song came out… SO imagine just how much I was into the club scene!!! And THIS SONG… shook the hell outta my badonka donk donk… more than I remember!!!

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