Missy Elliott Revisits Her Road to Superstardom: "Everything I Spoke, I've Done"

Amid an upcoming new album, the famous rapper recalls her history as an aspiring artist.

By Samantha Schnurr Jul 15, 2019 3:33 PMTags
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Who knows what they want to do for the rest of their life at 6 years old? Missy Elliott did.

This month, the Grammy-winning rapper became the first female rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, a significant milestone in the star's three-decade career—one she has been manifesting since her earliest school days. 

"‘I'm going to be a superstar,'"she would tell her Kindergarten teacher weekly. "The whole class would bust out laughing," she recalled to Marie ClaireNevertheless, the very young aspiring star forged ahead.

 "It's funny because I was just telling somebody that everything I spoke, I've done. And that's how powerful the tongue is," Elliott told the magazine. "I used to sit in the house and act like I was having conversations with Janet [Jackson] and Michael [Jackson] 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." 

While her dreams were strong, the path to accomplishing them was less clear. "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?'" she explained to Marie Claire. "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."

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Six studio albums and countless collaborations later, she's become one of the most significant rappers in music history, though the height of her accomplishments were not always apparent to her at the time. 

"I was just going, going, going," she told the magazine. "It wasn't resonating what was happening. After I did the Super Bowl [in 2015], my friends called me and they are like, ‘So, what you about to do?' I'm here mopping my floor, and I got to wash the dogs. And they are like, ‘What? You just finished doing the Super Bowl,'" the star recalled. "I was in the car with Michelle Obama [for ‘Carpool Karaoke' in 2016], and they called me like, ‘Girl, we got to celebrate; that's huge!' And I'm like, ‘I'm watching a movie on Netflix.' Now that I've had a chance to slow down, I look back at stuff, and I look back at my ‘She's a Bitch' video [1999], and at the time I didn't even think about it. But I look at it now and I'm like, ‘This is still so many years ahead.'" 

More than a decade since The Cookbook, Elliott is working on her next album, the magazine confirmed, and is championing women of color and unknown artists in the industry along the way.

"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," she explained. "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." 

The August 2019 issue of Marie Claire hits newsstands July 23.