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Elliott gets her due credit at VH1 – ‘People don’t know all the songs I’ve produced’

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British singer Elton John performs on stage during a concert at Les Deferlantes Festival in Argeles-sur-Mer, southern France, on July 8. (AFP)
British singer Elton John performs on stage during a concert at Les Deferlantes Festival in Argeles-sur-Mer, southern France, on July 8. (AFP)

NEW YORK, July 9, (AP): Missy Elliott is known for her oddball, trippy videos and colorful rhymes, but says if she were a man, more people would know about the songs she’s written or produced for other acts, including Whitney Houston, Beyonce and Aaliyah.

“A lot of people don’t know a lot of records that I’ve written or produced, so that’s a highlight for me as a woman,” Elliott said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “I always said if a man would have done half the records that I’ve done we would know about it. But we don’t know all the records I’ve done for other artists.”

Elliott is one of the few female producers in pop music. She has also worked on songs for Mary J. Blige, MC Lyte, Ciara, Ginuwine, TLC, SWV and Total. She’s getting some of her due credit at “VH1 Hip Hop Honors: All Hail the Queens,” to air live Monday night (9:00 pm EDT) from David Geffen Hall in New York City, where she will be honored alongside Queen Latifah, Lil Kim and Salt-N-Pepa.

Some of the artists that Elliott has crafted songs for or collaborated with will pay tribute to the rapper, including longtime partner Timbaland, Pharrell, Nelly Furtado, Monica, Fantasia, Remy Ma, Trina, Eve, Tweet, Keyshia Cole, Jazmine Sullivan and Raven Symone.

While Elliott, a four-time Grammy winner, is seen as one of the hardest-working acts in music, she says there’s always room for development. She remembers hearing Michael Jackson say he would “work harder” when asked if he’d do things differently in his career.

“I was just like, ‘Work harder? Like Mike, you moonwalked until your shoes were almost flip-flops. What else could you do?’” she said. “But it pushed me somewhere else because I feel like there’s always room for improvement.”

But it’s hard to think of improving when it comes to Elliott, one of the most respected and creative voices in music. The 45-year-old said she recently went down the YouTube vortex of eye-popping, innovative and futuristic music videos. While watching, she asked herself, “’What was I on?’”

“I know that was my smoke days, but I was like, ‘Whoa,’” she recalled with a laugh. “At the time I was doing it, those videos, I didn’t think much of it. I thought they were hot, but I didn’t critique it or go into detail or say, ‘Oh, this is some next-level (stuff)’ … But the other day when I looked at them, I was like, ‘These videos are insane.’”

Elliott’s last studio album was 2005’s “Under Construction.” Last year she released the Pharrell-assisted single, “WTF (Where They From),” and said she has new music coming soon.

“I got some heaters. I most definitely got some heaters. I’m not going to say when they’re coming because, you know, I always think that’s the setup when you say it’s coming and you give a date and you don’t drop on that date — oh man! It’s like those fans out there will stone you,” she said, laughing. “I’m not saying the date, but I got some heaters.”


She’s also got her eye on areas outside of rap: “I want to dip my foot in some acting. And most definitely want to mentor upcoming artists and give them the wisdom that was given to me.”

Queen Latifah remembers being on set in 1997 for the music video for “Ladies Night (Not Tonight),” the female rap anthem starring Lil Kim, Missy Elliott and others. It featured a number of top female musicians performing on the song and making cameos in the video, including Left Eye, Da Brat, Angie Martinez, Mary J. Blige, SWV, Total and Xscape.

“That day was so much fun,” Latifah recalled in a phone interview Thursday. “That was pretty much like Missy asking for everybody to come down and be in the video.”

“It was a good time. We just had a lot of good times,” she added.

Elliott, like Latifah, opened doors for women in rap — and in music overall — helping female performers advance their careers through guest appearances on songs, writing and producing, and management. And while they were competitive, there was also a sense of camaraderie.

Fast-forward and those helped by Elliott and Latifah are now paying it back. The list of names honoring Elliott at “VH1 Hip Hop Honors: All Hail the Queens,” to air live Monday night (9:00 pm EDT) from David Geffen Hall in New York City, is long, from Pharrell to Timbaland to Nelly Furtado.

“The funny thing (is) I couldn’t even fit everyone … People that I work with … we are like family; it extends beyond the music thing, so you know they were calling me like, ‘I’m performing right?’ I’m like, ‘Girl, I only got a certain amount of minutes and I can’t fit everybody,’” Elliott, laughing, said in a phone interview Wednesday. “I’m so thankful and humbled.”

Monica, Fantasia, Jazmine Sullivan, Remy Ma, Trina, Eve, Tweet, Keyshia Cole and Raven Symone will also honor Elliott.

“VH1 Hip Hop Honors” is returning after a six-year hiatus. Common, Da Brat, MC Lyte, Naughty by Nature, Rah Digga, Suga T and Yo-Yo will pay tribute to Latifah, who will perform the 1989 classic “Ladies First” with Monie Love.

Lil Kim and Salt-N-Pepa will also be honored.

“It’s important for me to be part of a celebration of ladies of hip-hop because I feel like it’s important we are recognized for our contributions to music and (that) our voices are heard,” Latifah said.

Elliott, whose hits include “Get Ur Freak On”, “Work It” and “Lose Control”, said she started to rap after listening to Salt-N-Pepa and learned all of their songs, including “the album cuts, the album fillers or whatever.” She also called Latifah and Lil Kim her “sisters.”

“So for us to come together, that’s always been a dream of mine. That’s another blessing that something like this can bring us together,” she said.

Latifah said she hopes contemporary female rappers will collaborate like she and her peers did on the set of “Ladies Night.”

“It was a good time in life … there were a lot more of us then (and) we were able to have a lot of fun together,” Latifah said. “I would love for the girls today to have that same camaraderie that we had. We competed with each other in a healthy way and at the same time (were) able to hang out with each other, and perform with each other, and get on each other’s records and really have fun with this music.”