On Thursday night, Missy Elliott made history.
The songwriter, singer, and rapper officially became the first woman rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, as USA Today reports. Queen Latifah, a fellow woman rapper, inducted Elliott in New York while also paying homage to their long-lasting friendship.
Lizzo, who recently collaborated with Elliott on her latest album, Cuz I Love You, paid homage to Elliott, by performing Elliott’s 1997 single “Sock It 2 Me” alongside Da Brat, who the track features.
Elliott, a native of Virginia, also received a special message from the former first lady Michelle Obama, who chimed in via a pre-recorded video and revealed that she’s a huge fan of the multitalented artist.
“Missy, I want to thank you for all of your trailblazing ways,” Obama said. “Thank you not for just sharing your gift with the world, but for being an advocate for so many people out there, especially young girls who are still figuring out how to make their voices heard.”
The speeches and performances brought Elliott to tears. During the end of her 10-minute speech, Missy Elliott, a Grammy Award-winning artist broke down crying following a few childhood anecdotes that the “Hot Boyz” rapper told.
“I am thankful,” Elliott said before needing to pause. “Every time I come up to a podium … even with all the work that I’ve done, I don’t know, and I’m assuming it’s just God, I don’t know why I am here,” a tearful Missy Elliott said, as the crowd applauded and roared with cheers. “I want to say one thing to the writers, to the upcoming writers, ‘Do not give up.’ We all go through writer’s block. Sometimes you just have to walk away from a record and come back to it. But don’t give up because I’m standing here. And this is big for hip-hop, too.”
Following Jay-Z (2017) and Jermaine Dupri (2018), Elliott is only the third rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall. In addition to penning her own songs such as “Work It,” “Lose Control,” and “Get Ur Freak On,” Elliott has written songs for a myriad of other artists, including the late Aaliyah, Whitney Houston, Monica, Beyonce, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Destiny’s Child, Ariana Grande, Fantasia, Jazmin Sullivan, SWV, Total, 70, Mya, and Tweet, among others.
Elliott joins the 2019 Songwriters Hall roster alongside Cat Stevens and John Prine, among others. In order to be eligible for the induction, songwriters have to pen hit songs for a minimum of 20 years.
Check out photos of Missy Elliott from the induction ceremony below, as well as a few photos of Elliott throughout her career.
Glennisha Morgan is a Detroit-bred multimedia journalist and writer. She writes about intersectionality, hip-hop, pop culture, queer issues, race, feminism, and her truth. Follow her on Twitter.