Missy Elliott released “WTF (Where They From)” last week, her first video in seven years. The rapper-producer-writer appeared at last year’s Super Bowl halftime show with Katy Perry, which allowed her to reflect on her career.
“When me and Katy got on the phone, she said she was a fan of my work and that she wanted me to perform, but to perform three of my records,” Missy Elliott says to i-D. “First of all, I can’t thank her enough. A thousand thank you’s wouldn’t be enough. 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’. 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. She was like ‘Are you sure? This will have a huge amount of viewers.’ She really gave it over to me, but I decided to do the old classics. I’ve performed for some of the biggest crowds but the Super Bowl has to be the scariest moment – besides waiting for this video to drop.”
Missy Elliott says that after the performance, she went back to leading a quiet life. She had also performed with Pharrell in 2014 at the BET Awards, but had receded from the spotlight. She had slowed down after being diagnosed with Graves disease. She announced in 2008 that she had the immune disorder.
After seeing the success of performing her classics on the Super Bowl stage, Pharrell reached out to his friend asking her about venturing back into music.
“After the Super Bowl, he hit me up like ‘Yo, what are you doing?'” the “Lose Control” rapper says. “I was basically in the house cleaning. I had gone back to my normal life. I was in the house vacuuming, walking my dogs. After the Super Bowl, I’m just acting normal. He said ‘I’m not trying to push you, but people miss you. Do you see what happened out there? Have you seen the charts?’ I think I was still in shock. It still hadn’t registered. He was like ‘I want to get in the studio with you.’ Who turns down Pharrell?”
Missy says that the beat he chose for her was different from what she expected from him. She needed time to digest the song, but he encouraged her to embrace the situation.
“He flew me to LA 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.’ So he played it and once he played it, it was like ‘Oh my goodness’ He said ‘I know you gon’ kill it.’ I said, ‘Well, let me take it home and live with it.’ 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. He 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.'”