Missy Elliott Performed at Essence Fest and We Are All Better Because of It

Illustration for article titled Missy Elliott Performed at Essence Fest and We Are All Better Because of It
Photo: Bennett Raglin (GETTY IMAGES)

Last night, my life was changed. I witnessed Melissa “Missy” Arnette Elliott perform and the quality of my existence has been upgraded for the better.


I type this to you in lieu of voice because I spent a good 30-plus minutes screaming the hits that Missy was ever so kind enough to give us all these years. Currently, I sound like I gave up my voice to Ursula to pursue a man. At this juncture, I’m the black gay mermaid. Disney, holla at me.

From start to finish, I was on my feet because there is no black-ass way that you can disrespect this living legend by staying stagnant. My momma taught me better than that. For over two decades, Missy delivered the music that was always ahead of its time. Thousands joined me in singing her songs en masse as the same woman who made a Glad Hefty trash bag iconic stood before us and gave a performance worth whatever wait we all had to endure.

Bop after bop and hit after hit, Missy took us down memory lane, and if you started this concert not knowing who she was (if such is the case, why are you here?) then you left with a memory of her that’ll last a lifetime. Missy told us to get our freak on and we obeyed with ease and precision. She switched it, flipped it, and reversed it to remind us that we don’t want or need “no one-minute man.”

(As an adult, that speaks to me on a spiritual level. It’s truly biblical. Probably can be found in Leviticus... I’ll find the correct chapter shortly.)

Mid-performance, a tribute was rightfully given to this living legend. In a montage, Missy broke down how all of her videos required an intense level of work and time to complete. She shared that her “She’s a Bitch” video caused two of her dancers to have asthma attacks because they had to hold their breath underwater for a shot in the video. She also shared that the jewelry on her face took two-plus hours to apply.

She shared how she had to drag herself across the floor for hours to shoot her “One Minute Man” video. Hell, Missy had live bees on her face in the video for “Work It.” That level of commitment is what has given us the gift of entertainment known as her career. We aren’t worthy, but I know that I for damn sure am grateful.


Whatever edges that I started this weekend with have been snatched and laid at the feet of Missy Elliott. As stated (several times), she is a living legend who deserves all of her flowers and accolades. She’s got a cute face, chubby waist, and twenty-two years after her debut still has the ability to make you do a double-take. Honestly, we have no choice but to stan.

Chief Beyoncé Content Officer @ TheRoot. I aspire to be as steadfast & unmovable as Solange's wig. Former President of Hogwart's Black Student Union.



Missy is a goddamn legend and she deserves every accolade for what she’s done for Black culture and music.