Missy Elliott Gets Real About Her Rise to Fame

Missy Elliott is a bona fide musical icon — she recently broke ground by being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, she has won six Grammys and had nine Top 10 hits on the Billboard charts. She’s performed everywhere from the Super Bowl to the Essence Festival and even received an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music.

Now that Missy’s on the verge of blessing her fans with fresh music, she’s getting candid about how she got to where she is today. The 48-year-old rapper spoke to Marie Claire for a cover story about her road to industry greatness.

Missy told the mag, “It’s funny because I was just telling somebody that everything I spoke, I’ve done. And that’s how powerful the tongue is.... I used to sit in the house and act like I was having conversations with Janet and Michael and Madonna and whoever. I then would go and say my thank yous for award shows that I hadn’t made it to yet. I had speeches, and I would be in the mirror thanking my mama.”

She added that she believed in herself even when others didn’t, explaining, “Trust me, I was broke. And my family would be like, ‘You better find something to do.’ They told me to go in the Army. I’m like, ‘I’m too fat to go in the Army. Where I am running to?’ Everything just seemed so impossible at the time because we didn’t have the technology to be able to reach out and put your stuff online and people get a chance to see it. So you have to be at the right place at the right time.”

Missy has a new album in the works, which Marie Claire notes “will get street dudes dancing again, like in the days of ‘Soul Train.’” As for how she wants her legacy to be perceived, Missy hopes to share her wisdom with others. She says, “I do want to make the generation behind feel like, don’t be afraid, because we are in a time where so many people can be artists. Now you can just post up, and if it gets to the right person, then it’s just viral. I want to be able to encourage those who don’t go viral.... A lot of people out there that have 452 or 100 followers may be talented. I want them to not feel like they have to do what everybody else is doing to gain that attention. Just be you. It’s going to catch hold somewhere.”

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