Missy Elliott has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the first woman rapper to earn the honor. Queen Latifah gave the introductory speech, underlining Elliott’s status as a trailblazer. “You feel free? You want to try some wild shit? Thank Missy.” After a video package featuring Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B, Elliott gave a career-spanning performance. Latifah gave an emphatic, loving speech about Elliott’s character, and then Elliott took the mic and gave an emotional speech thanking everyone who got her there. Read her full speech below.
Elliott is one of a handful of hip-hop artists who have been inducted into the Rock Hall, among them Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys, Eminem, Public Enemy, and Jay-Z. This year, DJ Kool Herc was also honored with the Musical Influence Award for his early contributions to hip-hop culture. Kate Bush, Willie Nelson, Rage Against the Machine, Sheryl Crow, George Michael, and the Spinners rounded out the rest of 2023’s musician inductees.
Since her 2019 EP Iconology, Elliott has made guest appearances on new material by Dua Lipa, Teyana Taylor, Skrillex, and more. In 2022, the rapper’s home town of Portsmouth, Virginia renamed a street Missy Elliott Boulevard in honor of the star, a year after she got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. At the Grammys in February, where Elliott was given a Global Impact Award, she joined Queen Latifah, Busta Rhymes, Method Man, and many others in a sprawling performance to celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop.
First of all, I’m not even gonna start without thanking God. I’ve been through so many ups and downs and I know where my gifts come from. God has brought me all the way here. He has allowed me to meet some incredible people along the way. I have so many people. I have two tables of people. I can’t say everybody. I see y’all. It’s like a family reunion. All of those people at that table have been a part of my journey.
I’m still pinching myself to even be in a room with some of the inductees. I see Flavor Flav, who is a legend. I love you, always been supportive. Elton John, legendary. Sheryl Crow, Chaka Khan, Willie Nelson. All of these people have impacted people around the world through their music. Sometimes I be like, do people really realize, like through music, what music do with people? That’s the one thing I think we can all say that comes together is music. You know, we all love music in some form, and all of those people who have already been up on the stage… I was just listening to other people’s stories and being like, wow, they’ve been around all of these years and just getting inducted who I feel been worthy to be up here. And that’s why I’m still in shock because they have so many yea
I didn’t wanna call out any names, but I have to say Pepa who is here from Salt and Pepa? Her and Queen Latifah, Lyte, Roxane Shante, so many. Monie, all those ones before me gave me their shoulders to stand on. So I just wanna take the time. My people say, “Hey, go up there, and you know, people wanna hear from you, how you feel.” But these are the people who inspired me. And if it wasn’t for them and their music, I probably wouldn’t be standing here.
Sylvia Rhone and Marilyn, I have to say them because I didn’t wanna be an artist. I wanted a record label, and they told me if I gave them one album, that they would they would gimme a record label. So I told Tim, let’s do this album real quick so I can get this record label. And we did it in two weeks. And from that Supa Dupa Fly album, it was another album and another album and another album. And so I have to thank them because they saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. I had given up. And so I thank y’all for pushing me to do that because y’all said, Hey, I’m not gonna give you that unless you give me this and that. And they must have saw something deeper. And I just thank y’all. I thank everybody at that table.
I have to thank my mother who is here. My mother has never seen me perform in my whole entire career. But lemme tell you, wait, it’s not my mother fault. I most definitely didn’t wanna be saying she’s a bitch, no minute man, don’t fail me now, all of these records. I never wanted my mother to come to a show to hear me curse, ’cause you know, she from the church. But this night is so important and I wouldn’t have it no other way. Mommy, I thank you for allowing me to write on your walls songs. I’m gonna try to hurry up. If you see them at that table, they mean something to me.
And Timbaland, I love you. We started this in high school. I am proud of you. I see you, you are legendary. There’s so many of y’all that are so legendary in here. This is the 50th anniversary of hip hop. And so this is deeper than me just being up here. I was telling Robin, you just feel like it’s so far to reach when you in the hip hop world and to be standing here, it means so much to me. I thank you all—the committee from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I just wanna say I love y’all and just try to spread love ’cause we so needed in this world. And I thank y’all, all the inductees. Y’all are so amazing. And congratulations to y’all. I’m honored to be even just in the room with you all. And I thank y’all. Thank you so much.