Missy Elliott delivered a welcome surprise on Thursday night, dropping the video for her new single, "I'm Better." The song is Elliott's first new release in nearly a year and the video is a updated take on Elliott's classic visuals, with a team of dancers in futuristic garments dancing underwater in a pool.
The song's hook comes courtesy of Cainon Lamb, a name that many may not be familiar with. But the Miami native, who makes his rapping debut on the single, has been collaborating with Elliott, and a veritable who's who of R&B legends, for over a decade. Below is a look at some of the crucial moments that led up to the Grammy-nominee's rapping debut.
Lamb attended Florida A&M University on a full football scholarship and eventually played professionally in the Arena Football League.
Lamb's mother gifted him an MPC. He used the sampler to produce his first tracks for Florida gospel-rap crew Against Da Grain in 2004.
His first major placement came on Fantasia's 2004 album, Free Yourself.
Lamb began collaborating with Lil Brianna, who was signed to Missy Elliott's Goldmine label. Elliott heard his beat CD, which included the instrumental for what would become Fantasia's "Selfish," his first major placement. Lamb went on to produce three songs from Fantasia's 2006 eponymous album, two of which were co-produced by Elliott.
Keyshia Cole's "Let It Go," co-produced by Lamb and Missy Elliot, lands at No. 1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart.
Lamb produced his first song for Missy Elliott, "Ching-a-Ling" from the Step Up 2: The Streets soundtrack.
He landed at No. 1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop charts again, co-producing Jazmine Sullivan's "Need U Bad" with Missy Elliott.
In 2011, Lamb produced Beyoncé's "Countdown" from her 4 album.
In a 2011 interview, Lamb says he was inspired to make the beat by Boyz II Men's “Uhh Ahh," which he ended up sampling.
"I sent the song to my publisher, E.M.I., and my publisher called me the next day," Lamb recalled. "He said, 'I haven’t heard nothing like this in a while. I had a meeting this morning with Beyoncé and I played a couple other songs I had and she wasn’t really feeling them. When I played the beat that you sent me, you should have seen how she went crazy! She started dancing and bouncing up and down and just doing all kind of stuff.'"
Lamb produced nine out of thirteen songs on SWV's 2012 comeback album, I Missed Us.