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 years on me.

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