Missy Elliott Talks Nerves, Super Bowl and Making 'WTF' With Pharrell - Rolling Stone
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Missy Elliott Talks Nerves, Super Bowl and Making ‘WTF’ With Pharrell

Rapper praises Katy Perry for letting her perform classics during 2015 halftime show

Missy ElliottMissy Elliott

Missy Elliott talks about the nerves that prolonged her absence, and the Super Bowl gig and call from Pharrell that spurred her comeback single "WTF"

Joseph Okpako/Getty

Missy Elliott said she was cleaning her house, days after performing with Katy Perry at the 2015 Super Bowl Halftime Show, when Pharrell called and urged her again to join him in the studio.

“Who turns down Pharrell?” the rapper said in a new interview with i-D. “He flew me to L.A. and he put me up and we got in the studio and he said, ‘Yo! I got this crazy beat.’ You know, Pharrell, he’s very zen, very yoga, he’s such a sweetheart. But this time, he was straight from the hood, like ‘Yo, I got this crazy record for you, I already wrote my rap, I gotta get your bars now.'”

That beat became Elliott’s ferocious, futuristic single, “WTF (Where They From)” which arrived last week. Despite the lengthy gap between her most recent singles (2012’s Timbaland collaborations “9th Inning” and “Triple Threat”) and LP (2005’s The Cookbook), Missy sounded as fresh, dexterous and intergalactic as ever. But the rapper acknowledged some initial trepidation while making “WTF.”

“When something is so hot, I don’t want to just jump on it right away, I want to take it home and make sure I give it my best shot,” she said. “[Pharrell] said ‘Listen, just remember who you are. You’ve always been fun and animated and you have always made people want to dance. Look in the mirror so you can know who you are. It’s time. It’s your time.’ That’s how it happened.”

Elsewhere, Elliott admitted her nerves had increased as more time passed following the release of The Cookbook. While her absence was further spurred by a 2011 diagnosis of Graves Disease, the rapper said she also began to question her place in a music universe filled with new sounds and stars.

“I felt like, ‘How do I fit in?'” she said. “I’m battling. But then I never fit in! The whole time, I’ve never fit in! But it was still that battle. Do people still want to hear something creative and risky at this point? People might not be accepting of your music. So I battled that and I thank god for somebody like Pharrell who stayed in my ear.”

Missy also offered “a thousand thank yous” to Katy Perry for helping reignite her comeback by asking her to join her at the Super Bowl Halftime Show in 2015. While Elliott said she expected to perform their remix of “Last Friday Night,” she said Perry insisted the rapper choose her own set.

“She allowed me to perform my records, on her set and she said ‘If you have a new record, you should perform it, this is the time to perform it,'” Elliott recalled. “At the time I had some records but I didn’t feel as strong about them. I said I’d rather go out there and give them the classics.”

Elliott has yet to announce a title or release date for her next record. But in a 2014 interview, Timbaland teased the long-gestating project as, “It’s something you ain’t never heard Missy do. It sounds today, but the future.”

In This Article: Missy Elliott, Pharrell


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