Work It

Album: Under Construction (2003)
Charted: 6 2
Play Video


  • Part of the chorus is backwards. There was a lot of speculation that Missy was hiding a dirty message, but when reversed, the lyrics are simply the other part of the chorus: "Put my thing down, flip it, and reverse it."

    Elliott revealed to Billboard in a 2018 interview that it was a happy accident caused by the finger slip of an engineer.

    "The reverse thing, that was a mistake," she said. "The engineer happened to hit something, and it just went backward, and I was like, 'Oh that's kind of crazy' because it went backward on the beat."

    Elliott added: "So, after that happened, I said, 'Yo, keep that in there and I'm going to write around it.'"
  • What's it mean to "work it"? The lyrics are loaded with innuendo, which can be summed up in the line:

    Sex me so good I say blah-blah-blah
    Work it, I need a glass of wa-tah

    Missy is working it so good, she's losing control of her speech function.
  • This samples Blondie's 1979 disco hit, "Heart Of Glass," and it also uses part of the 1984 Rock Master Scott and the Dynamic Three song "Request Line" at the beginning.
  • At the end, after Missy says, "To my ladies...." it goes into a beat taken from a song by Bob James called "Take Me To The Mardi Gras." That beat, featuring some distinctive bells, was popularized by Run-D.M.C. on their 1986 song "Peter Piper." The beat was manipulated by Run-D.M.C.'s DJ Jam Master Jay, and "Peter Piper" is his showcase song on their Raising Hell album. Shortly after this was released, Jay was shot and killed in his New York studio.
  • The video was directed by Dave Meyers, who also did "Lose Control" and "We Run This." It won Video of the Year and Best Hip Hop Video at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. At the beginning of the show, Missy, Madonna, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera performed part of "Work It." What most people remember is Madonna kissing Spears and Aguilera before Missy came on stage.
  • This spent 10 weeks at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 without ever managing to make that final leap to the top spot.
  • The first attempts at recording this song were without the reversal. After about five tries with different lyrics, Elliott hit on the idea to put her thing down, flip it and reverse it. Timbaland, who produced the track with Elliott, was impressed. "When she came back and played it for me, I was like, 'That's the one,'" he told Entertainment Weekly.
  • Missy Elliott performed part of this song at halftime of the 2015 Super Bowl. The star of the show, Katy Perry, joined Elliott on stage and acted as a hypewoman/backup singer during this section, gamely imploring the crowd ("let's go Super Bowl!") before disappearing for a costume change.

    Elliott's appearance was a shot of hip-hop adrenaline after the bouncy pop of Perry's "Teenage Dream" and "California Gurls," which were performed in a beach scene with dancing palm trees.
  • The song returned to #35 on the Hot 100 in the week following Elliott's 2015 Super Bowl performance. "Get Ur Freak On" also re-entered the chart at #40. They marked Elliott's first appearances on the tally as a lead act since 2008.
  • Missy Elliot recalled to Billboard that at one stage during the recording of Under Construction, she and Timbaland hit a block. After a fortnight without coming up with any ideas Missy urged the producer "to go to some mom and pop stores to get some break beats". He finally got some records and from one of them came up with the vibe for this song.

    Missy went into another room and recorded some rhymes. She ran back and played it to him and Timberland said, "Nah, that ain't it." Four times this happened and Missy was getting really annoyed with her collaborator. However, the fifth time round he was finally happy and told her "Yes, that's it! That s--t hot!"

Comments: 14

  • Daniel from Winchester, OhI'm a guy and I listen to this song alot, and I dance to it too. , and know all the words to it, it give me a bi nostalgia boner. ;D
  • Eugene from Minneapolis, MnThe intro samples "Request Line", an R&B/Hip Hop smash by Rock Master Scott & The Dynamic Three released in late 1984 and peaked in 1985.
  • Diana from Los Angeles, Cathe drum disco sound is where missy took heart of glass music, I hear it, you need a good ear if you cant tell my friend
  • Diana from Los Angeles, Caluv this song, its a jam I didnt know shes used blondie's heart of glass which i'm surprised because normally I can tell when a song is sampled, missy is a good producer
  • Jessica from Los Angeles, CaThe Blondie sample plays throughout almost the entire song as a secondary sorta beat. "Heart of Glass" begins with a bossa nova beat that sounds like one of those programmed beats that used to come on old Casio keyboards.
  • Shannon from Palisade, CoThis song and this type of music is shameful, distasteful, embarassing, and just plain socially
  • Michael from London, Englandalso id like to point out that no-where in the CD sleeve is the sample credited and it would surely have to be if it was a sample!-maybe its just similar !
  • Michael from London, Englandi have heard the backwards part in the chorus actually says "is your F***ing P**Sy wet yet" and u gotta admit this fits more in time than other suggestions!! great song though!
  • Cricket from Moscow, Idthe mystery sample are the sixteenth note percussive beats in the background under the bass that kinda sound like someone is hitting coconuts with drumsticks. if you have ever heard "heart of glass" they're the beats that start the song. happy hunting!
  • Elliot from St. Louis, MoI had an odd experience with this song. I live in a 94% African-American community, and am one of the few white people in my school, but when, I was hanging out with my friends, this song came on the radio, and everyone, white or AFrican-American begin to sing/rap/whatever along to this song, and it was just kind of akward, a group of 10 or so males singing this song with each other. lol, Missy Elliott is cool, and her last name is my first name, except spelled differently.
  • Michael from London, Englandwhere is the Blondie sample used?
  • Casie from Denver, CoMissy is really good! Alison and the other chineese girl are really good dancers and besides they worked with Eminem. their totaly pros! I think this song is really cool. Missy Elliott is just like another fun and funny fat lady,not fat but you know,thoes kinda ladys that are fun! She rocks!
  • Angelica from La Puente, CaPeople where worried that the backwards parts where dirty? Those are the cleanest parts!
  • Kudzai from Harare, Otherthis song simply rocks!!!!
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