By Amanda Wicks
If Missy Elliott’s recent song “WTF (Where They From)” is any indication, the rapper is poised to make big waves with her upcoming album, due out in 2016. Elliott graces this week’s Billboard cover, where she discusses what it took to get back out in the spotlight after nearly a decade away.
After releasing The Cookbook in 2005, Elliott slowly stepped back from all she had built. Part of that had to do with her 2008 Graves’ disease diagnosis, which caused rapid weight loss, hair loss and other issues related to her thyroid. After getting to a place where she could manage her condition, Elliott said she “quietly” released two tracks produced by Timbaland in 2012, but they didn’t garner much attention so she didn’t pursue any kind of comeback.
That didn’t mean she lacked material, though. “If I wanted to do The Missing Files of Missy Elliott, I have probably six albums just sitting there,” she said. “But it was much needed,” she admitted of her break. “People hadn’t realized that I haven’t just been an artist, I’ve been a writer and a producer for other artists. When you’re writing that much, your brain is like a computer. You have refresh it.”
It may seem like Elliott’s surprise Super Bowl performance with Katy Perry encouraged her to pursue a new album, but before that moment she’d already been working with Pharrell Williams on new music. Williams contacted Elliott in 2014 with a random phone call to check in with her. At the time, Elliott was playing around with music, and that got the two talking about collaborating. Williams, along with Timbaland, are “the only two producers that understand me,” she said.
As for that memorable Super Bowl performance, Elliott said it caused her massive panic attacks, especially the night before. “Like, IVs in my arm, everything,” she said. “Nobody knew.” She continued, “I know it was nothing but the grace of God that lifted me up and took me through that performance.”