The decision by the Portsmouth City Council in Virginia to rename nearly a mile-long street after multiple Grammy award-winning hip hop legend Missy Elliot could have huge economic implications for the City of Portsmouth. It could make the street the most visited tourist place in the City.
Born Mellissa Arnettee Elliot in Portsmouth on July 1, 1971, Missy is considered the city’s most celebrated icon. She shot to prominence in the mid-1990s when she came on the musical scene with the R & B group, Sista. Since the early 2000s, Missy Elliot has become a global household name after working alongside another hip-hop legend, Timbaland, to produce her hit tracks.
Missy is remembered across the world for hit songs like “Get Ur Freak On” and “Work It”. Producer Timbaland once said Missy Elliot’s ingenuity stems from her unorthodox and unexplainable sense of inventing and reliving the Black expression of freedom in her music.
She is often referred to as the rule, by hip hop lovers, because Missy Elliot has broken every rule when it comes to creativity and lyrical dexterity. She is the first female rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
It is in the wake of these giant strides by Missy Elliot that the Portsmouth City Council unanimously voted to honor her with her own street in the city of her birth.
The McLean Street, which is situated in Portsmouth’s entertainment district, will now be officially known as Missy Elliot Boulevard. The road runs adjacent to the Victory Crossing Shopping Center, Tidewater Community College, and upcoming Portsmouth Rivers Casino, the city authorities announced.
It’s around three miles from the Hodges Ferry neighborhood where Missy Elliot grew up and about two miles from where she graduated high school. The change of name was mooted by a family friend of the Elliotts, Eric Carter.
According to him, the rationale behind the name change proposal was because the City of Portsmouth falls short when it comes to recognizing her own heroes. He added that children in the city should have a role model who emerged from their community to look up to and Missy Elliot stands out tall.
“Growing up I learned that this same girl who’s received all these awards, performed at the White House…she grew up right here in our city of Portsmouth,” Carter said.
Missy, on her Instagram stories, thanked her hometown for the honor done her, adding that, despite the numerous awards she has won, naming a street after her has hit her differently.
“No matter where I go across the globe I am still P-TOWN ALL DAY baybeeeee. I am so Humbly Grateful God is good ALL THE TIME,” she added.
Aside from the symbolic essence of this act, there could be significant economic implications for the City of Portsmouth.
Professor of Culture and Communication Copenhagen Business School, Brian Moeran, in his analysis of naming streets after celebrities and its economic value, said one can deduce that the possibility of transferring the popularity of Missy Elliot to a street of the same magnitude cannot be ruled out.
This will attract attention to the Missy Elliot Boulevard and create additional brand essence for the specific community. Given that this street is a few meters away from where Missy was born and where she graduated, it will get the place to be the most talked about in social circles and on the internet.
He explained that because celebrities are good at what they do, depending on where their brand is shifted to, it has both economic and cultural benefits.
According to Prof. Moeran, going by the basic rule of marketing, there must be a direct connection between the celebrity and the product to make the expected gains.
In the case of Missy, people will love to visit the particular street because that was her birthplace and many people will like to visit there to learn about her background.
Celebrities have global marketing appeal, and naming the street after a female rap legend can open up a new market in fan forums, merchandise of missy, photo galleries and businesses around the street.