Missy Elliott Says People Didn't Understand Her Music 'At First': I 'Never Felt Like I Fit In'

The rap icon sat down for a chat with "Kiss Me More" singer Doja Cat for Interview magazine

Missy Elliott
Missy Elliott. Photo: Erika Goldring/Getty

Hits like "Get Ur Freak On" and "Work It" are regarded as classics today, but for Missy Elliott, that wasn't always the case.

The rapper, 50, discussed her struggles in trying to make music that didn't always fit a cookie-cutter, mainstream mold in a new interview with Doja Cat published Tuesday in Interview magazine.

"Sometimes you gotta take a chance. I never felt like I fit in, period. I don't think there was a lane for the music that we did," Elliott said. "The only reason they found a lane is because I was rapping over the tracks. But at first, I don't think people understood the music."

The conversation emerged after Doja, 25, told Elliott that she has some "really funky and weird" tracks up her sleeve that she's not sure will land with her pop-friendly audience.

Doja Cat
Doja Cat. Jerritt Clark/Getty Images

To that, Elliott offered some sage wisdom.

"You're starting to create your own lane," she told the Planet Her singer. "It probably won't ever fit, but people will love it."

While Elliott has achieved plenty of mainstream success — including four Grammy wins —she did explain that new artists entering the industry should know that it isn't all glitz and glamour.

"One thing I always say to people is, coming into this industry, we're just doing what we love to do, and nobody tells us about the ups and downs," Elliott said. "We think we're about to be famous, we're about to get mad bread, and that's it. It's a whole lot that comes with this, and a lot of people don't come in prepared, and that's why they go through anxiety and depression."

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Meanwhile, elsewhere in their chat, Doja Cat, whose third album Planet Her came out in June, expressed a desire to improve her rap skills, saying she feels as though she "could be better."

"I think everybody feels that way with their own art, in all kinds of ways. But I see all these incredibly talented rappers around me, and I'm like, 'Yeah, I'm doing pop, but I should focus on my pen now more than ever,'" she said. "It's harder for me to rap. Sometimes I get writer's block, because I don't want to write something stupid. Sometimes I'll write something and be like, 'Why would I say that?' Then I'll restart, and eventually just give up. But when I do it right, I'm really, really happy about it."

Elliott responded by praising the singer-rapper.

"Well you're great at both, so make sure you give them both love, because that's a gift. Listen, everybody is not a bar rapper," Elliott told Doja Cat. "When I'm hearing people, and they got mad bars, I love it. But I'm not that girl. I will say this, and I'm sure you probably feel this way too. If we sat down, we could do it. As a writer, you can sit and create those bars."

Doja jokingly replied, "But my ass would hurt if I was sitting that long. I would be sitting for a while. I would be hurting myself."

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