Missy Elliott is opening up as she prepares to make history as the first female rapper to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The four-time Grammy Award winner sat down with Robin Roberts in an interview that aired Thursday on “Good Morning America,” reflecting on her life journey as she gears up for the huge milestone of her career.
Also known as Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, the hip-hop star explained the origin of the moniker which she said was given by Magoo of Timbaland & Magoo. “He named me that,” she shared. “He said, ‘It was a crime to have as many talents as I had.'”
Growing up, the “Work It” songstress said she always dreamed of being a “superstar,” adding, “I never wavered. I never changed. I said it every time.”
The 2023 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will stream live on Disney+ on Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. ET. It will also be available to stream following the induction ceremony.
Looking back through her decades of experience working in the industry, Elliott, 52, said “words cannot describe” how honored she feels to have been selected an inductee of the most prestigious hall in music. She told Roberts, as an artist from the “hip-hop world,” such a goal “seemed so far out of reach.”
During the upcoming ceremony, Queen Latifah will have the honor of introducing Elliott, who shared that the actress is someone she had known for about 20 years.
“She’s somebody that, like I said, ‘come before me, open that door, left it open,'” Elliott said. “And I owe so many flowers, bouquets. It’s not enough bouquets for those women that came before me. And she’s one of those women.”
Another special person in her life who will be attending the event is her own mother, whom Elliott claims has never witnessed her performance live. “She’s never been to a show because, you know, I had some little words I didn’t ever want her to hear,” the rapper confessed. “And so she’s comin’ for the first time.”
Admitting she is “super shy,” Elliott also revealed that “nobody has ever heard me record before.”
“I was always, like, too shy to do it in front of anybody…,” she explained. “Ya’ll would be lookin’ at me crazy…so I’ve never recorded in front of anybody. Nobody.”
During the interview, Elliott also got candid about her experience dealing with anxiety, recalling a moment when she joined Katy Perry onstage at the 2015 Super Bowl when she ended up in an emergency room a few hours prior, she said, adding, “I start freakin’ out.” However, Elliott said, “It feels good” to be living in a time now where society is more open to discussing the topic. “Because you realize…’Hey, it’s a lotta people that suffer from anxiety.'” she continued.
In 2008, Elliott was diagnosed with Graves’ disease — an “autoimmune disease that leads to a generalized overactivity of the entire thyroid gland,” according to the American Thyroid Association.
She said the diagnosis “broke down my whole nervous system,” and took a toll on her mental health. “I remember Monica comin’ to the house one day, and I couldn’t even hold a pencil,” she remembered. “She wrote the lyrics out for me…I felt helpless.”
“Like, it start[s] messin’ with you mentally…my eyes,” she elaborated. “You have all those different side effects that you have to deal with.”
Elliott has since focused on looking after herself while continuing to help empower the next generation of creatives who have embraced her presence through social media, especially on TikTok. “That’s always great ’cause there’s a new resurgence of all of those records,” she said.
Offering advice for her younger self, she said, “I would tell her, ‘You know what? There is a bright future for you, and keep goin’.'”
“That — that girl knew too — that she had somethin’ that was different and unique,” Elliott added.