Missy Elliott isn’t just back. She’s blazing.
The iconic rapper broke the internet when the video for her comeback track ‘WTF (Where They From)’ landed last week.
Indeed, in what is becoming a real rarity in today’s age, the Dave Meyer‘s directed visual very much felt like an event and was greeted as such (the clip has racked up over 13 million views and counting).
In an interview with Hattie Collins for i-D magazine, Elliott waxed honest about her return; how she’d adjusted to the “normal life,” the apprehension she felt (she literally messed up her weave with nerves), and how Pharrell Williams and Katy Perry were central to her resurgence.
Excepts via i-D. Long but good!:
You haven’t dropped a project of your own since 2005’s Cookbook. Was thepressure greater because it had been so long?
Oh the pressure was definitely more! When me and Tim put out those records [9th Inning and Triple Threat], you know, we just put them out, that’s why we never put a video out. But this time the pressure was really on because I knew I had shot a video so now it wasn’t just about, ‘Are they gonna like the record’. I knew that people know me for my videos and so the expectation from those who grew up on my music was high. My goodness. I swear to God, I felt like I sweated out my tracks the night before the video dropped! My weave was messed up waiting for this video to come out!
So why now? And how much did the Katy Perry Superbowl performance affect your decision to return as a solo artist?
I can’t remember where I was, but my manager called me and said ‘Would you like to do the Superbowl’? I was sat there looking at the phone like ‘Did she just say the Superbowl’? I felt like, who turns down the Superbowl but then, why would I be doing the Superbowl at this point? I don’t have anything out, but I’ll do it. She said ‘Katy Perry wants to speak to you, she wants you to perform with you’. I immediately thought that she would want me to perform Last Friday the record that we did together. So 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. 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 Superbowl has to be the scariest moment – besides waiting for this video to drop (laughs). That was a nervous moment for me.
But why now? Is the record part of a bigger Missy project to come?
Well, Pharrell hit me. He had hit me before the Superbowl, we had performed at the BET awards [in 2014], and after the Superbowl, he hit me up like ‘Yo, what are you doing?’ I was basically in the house cleaning! I had gone back to my normal life. I was in the house vacumming, walking my dogs – after the Superbowl, 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? 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.’ That’s how it happened (laughs). Once we did the record, I knew it was time to shoot a video. The puppet idea I had seen somebody do on the street. I held onto that idea for five years because I didn’t have a record that matched that idea. So I showed Pharrell the clip I had, and he said ‘You know you got to do a video for this’. Believe it or not, we have been making this video since March. The puppets themselves took two and a half, to three months to make. It was very detailed, we had people from StarTrak working on this video, so it was a lot.
For those like us wondering about the album ‘WTF’ sits on, Missy told Elvis Duran this week that it’s likely to arrive “sometime next year” and that she’s recorded several “hot records with Pharrell and that both he and Timbaland are teaming up to helm the set.