Missy Elliot has become the first female hip-hop artist and the third rapper ever to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
The four-time Grammy Award winner was honored in a ceremony in New York City, along with fellow inductees Dallas Austin, Tom T. Hall, John Prine, Jack Tempchin and Yusuf / Cat Stevens.
Rapper and singer Lizzo, along with Chicago rapper Da Brat, performed at the ceremony to honor Elliot. She was inducted into the Hall of Fame by her friend and fellow rapper and actress Queen Latifah.
In a video tribute that brought Elliot to tears, former first lady Michelle Obama thanked her for empowering young women.
“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 47-year-old artist, whose full name is Melissa Arnette Elliott, has been a pioneer in hip-hop for more than two decades and has not only written her own Billboard-charting hits, but has also written for other iconic artists, including Beyonce, Aaliyah, Destiny’s Child, Busta Rhymes, TLC, Timbaland and Ariana Grande. She is also set to release her first album since 2005.
“I want to say one thing to the writers, to the upcoming writers: Do not give up. We all go through writer’s block,” a tearful Elliot said. “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.”
Describing her as “one of the most significant female artists in contemporary music history,” the Songwriters Hall of Fame recognized Elliot for her solo work as well as her innumerable star-studded collaborations over the decades.
“Missy Elliott is a groundbreaking solo superstar, pioneering songwriter-producer, and across-the-board cultural icon. The five-time GRAMMY® Award winner — with nominations spanning three decades — has attained unprecedented success, including U.S. sales in excess of 30 million,” the Songwriters Hall of Fame said in a statement.