In a historic moment at the 46th annual Kennedy Center Honors, Missy Elliott paid a heartfelt tribute to Queen Latifah, who earlier this month became the first female rapper to be honored at the prestigious event in Washington, DC. The ceremony, aired by CBS on December 27, featured a tribute segment put together by MC Lyte, Monie Love, and D-Nice, highlighting Latifah’s groundbreaking contributions to the industry. Missy didn’t just paid tribute to the queen, she expressed the feelings of brown girls everywhere— including myself who were forever changed and molded by the boldness of Queen Latifah.

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Taking the stage, Missy Elliott shared a personal anecdote from her high school days, recalling the impact of witnessing Queen Latifah on screen. She expressed admiration for Latifah’s unapologetic stance during a time when the prevailing narrative was that it’s a man’s world. Missy recounted hearing Latifah repeatedly chant, “Oh, ladies first,” and how it resonated with her, challenging the existing norms.

Reflecting on Latifah’s influence, Missy emphasized, “I said, ‘Who is this girl?’ And I looked at the bottom of the screen, and it said ‘Queen Latifah.’ Not Latifah, but Queen Latifah. That only said to me that she was saying, ‘You will respect me … I will be a leader, I will be a provider, I will be an inspiration to many, I will be the blueprint to success.'”


Missy Elliott’s tribute underscored the transformative impact of Queen Latifah’s pioneering role in hip-hop, breaking barriers and setting the stage for future generations of female artists. Latifah’s legacy was celebrated not just for her musical achievements but also for her role as a cultural icon and a trailblazer for women in the entertainment industry.

On Instagram, Missy Elliott expressed her gratitude and joy for witnessing Queen Latifah’s historic moment, calling her a “true BLUEPRINT for those behind you.” The Kennedy Center Honors recognized not only Latifah’s individual accomplishments but also the broader impact of women in hip-hop, marking a significant milestone in the genre’s history.

Watch the video below.