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What up, Missy Elliott? Well, what isn't?

Published Sep. 29, 2005

Now we know how Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott does it. She doesn't sleep.

It's 8 a.m., and the rapper/singer/writer/producer/mogul already has been up for hours.

"Ever since I've been in the business, I get maybe two hours of sleep and I'm good for the day," says Elliott, 27, surprisingly spright considering the hour. "My body is programmed now."

Not that she could have slept if she wanted to. Her cell phone won't stop ringing.

"It could be Puff Daddy," she says as she answers a call. "I don't want him to think I'm avoiding him. I'm supposed to do something on his solo album."

This time, it isn't Puff. Instead, it's one of a string of artists signed to her new label, Gold Mind Inc.

"I'm at my artists' beck and call," she says. "If I don't answer the phone, they start freaking out. They start wearing me."

Elliott's new album, Da Real World, follows one of the most groundbreaking hip-hop efforts of the last decade _ 1997's Supa Dupa Fly. That disc went platinum and established Elliott as a star. The album's sound broke the genre's mold by featuring futuristic bleeps and whines _ suggesting hip-hop music for the Jetsons. Elliott's look also jarred; in contrast to the usual hip-hop babes, the full-figured entertainer wore suits that turned her into rap's premier sight gag.

Topping such edgy efforts couldn't be easy.

"I was really stressed," Elliott says. "(So on the new album, I had to) make sure that this one didn't sound anything like the last one, to make sure it was futuristic again, but not so far ahead that people can't understand it. It was a lot."

As for her future, she's playing it smart, preparing a business career should stardom fade fast. Her label already earned a gold album for the singer Nicole, and Elliott will put out records this summer from an 18-year-old male singer called TC; a female rapper, Mocca, and a male rapper, Dangermouth.

"It's good when people say, "Oh, you're the next Quincy Jones, or the Puff Mommy,' " Elliott says. "But I don't want to be in a category with anyone else. In the end, I want people to say, 'She's just so far left, she's on another planet.' "

She's already halfway there.