June 12th, 2024

Inside Missy Elliott’s first headlining tour, with Busta Rhymes, Ciara and Timbaland

By Maria Sherman, The Associated Press on April 8, 2024.

LOS ANGELES (AP) – At a 24,000-square-foot studio near downtown Los Angeles, Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes and Ciara are preparing to film the video announcement for a tour no one saw coming.

This summer, the trio – along with legendary producer Timbaland – will hit the road for Elliott’s first headlining arena tour, appropriately titled “Out of This World – The Missy Elliott Experience.”

“Listen, I didn’t realize I never had my own tour,” says a smiling Elliott, holding her tiny Yorkie, named Fendi, dressed in Gucci. “The last real tour that I went on – like, consistent days – was with Beyoncé and Alicia (Keys).”

That was in 2004.

Call it long overdue, but the timing is ideal. Over the last few years, Elliott – the forward-seeking artist – has been recognized for her talents as a musician, producer, songwriter and beyond.

In 2019, she became the first female rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and received the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the MTV Video Music Awards. In 2021, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2022, her hometown of Portsmouth, Virginia, named a boulevard after her. Last year, she became the first female hip-hop artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“Getting those accolades, I feel like I’ve finally made it,” Elliott says. “It feels amazing. I feel so blessed.”

“What we’re seeing now is kind of the rest of the world catching up,” says Mona Scott-Young, Elliott’s longtime manager and co-producer of the tour. “She’s always been ahead.”

In his green room, Busta Rhymes tells the AP that a tour had never come up in conversation across his decades of friendship and collaboration with Elliott. (He’s the intro and outro voice on her canonical debut album, 1997’s “Supa Dupa Fly.” They’ve long since been inseparable.)

“She doesn’t really tour and she doesn’t perform often. I just kind of understood my sister – the unspoken thing,” he says. “You knew that if she decided to do this, go to the place where she was actually ready to tour, the s— was going to be crazy because one thing Missy never did was play with her production. And you saw that in everything she did, from her shows to her videos.”

He continued: “Missy will turn down $10 million to do a show. “¦ She’s super in control of her destiny in that way, and without compromise, is what made her super incredibly great. You can’t do nothing but love her for that. She’s a true artist in the purest form of the word.”

And make no mistake, this isn’t a nostalgia tour.

“We are in the best spaces in our lives, individually and collectively, we’re at the most experienced spaces in our lives,” Rhymes says. “We’re no longer Daniel-san. We’re now all Mr. Miyagi senseis. You know what I’m saying? We’re all at our perfection levels of what we’ve been doing and building together as a collective family for 30 years.”

Elliott echoed the sentiment.

“The lineup feels something special,” says Elliott. “It’s family. It’s not put together.”

On set, the trio are styled by longtime collaborator June Ambrose – all-black looks, like if the Avengers were impeccably dressed and made up of R&B and hip-hop legends. They take photos as a group and individually.

After her solo photo shoot, Ciara starts to tear up.

“When I was a little girl, a little artist coming up, and you would ask me, “˜Who inspires you?’ I would infuse a combination of people: Michael Jackson and Prince and I would say Missy Elliott. She’s one of the best performers of all time,” she said.

“She means a lot to me as an artist but also as a person, as a sister. She’s always someone I can call for the truth, and she’s got to keep it real with me. She’s someone I can call and cry to if I need to.”

But ask her if there will be any on-stage collaborations – Elliott wrote and was featured on Ciara’s huge hit “1, 2 Step”; Ciara’s on Elliott’s “Lose Control” – she laughs. “Missy’s very particular. I don’t want to ruin any surprises,” she says. “I think from beginning to end, people will be on their feet. All of us have a lot of energetic records.”

“Somebody’s gonna die!” Rhymes jokes.

“And come back to life,” Ciara cuts in.

“Let’s keep it positive,” Rhymes laughs. “Someone is gonna die and come back to life.”

Later, Elliott offers a hint at what fans can expect from the show. “It’s an experience, it’s not just you seeing the artist on the stage,” she says. “I want people to travel to those moments, those (music) videos, I want you to relive it on stage. It is most definitely a lot of good, good stuff. Expensive stuff!”

The “Out of This World – The Missy Elliott Experience” kicks off in Vancouver, British Columbia, on July 4 at Rogers Arena and concludes in Rosemont, Illinois, at Allstate Arena on Aug. 22.

It will hit Seattle; Oakland, California; Los Angeles; Las Vegas; Denver; Austin, Texas; Houston; Fort Worth, Texas; Tampa, Florida; Sunrise, Florida; Atlanta; Baltimore; Hampton, Virginia; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; Newark, New Jersey; Boston; Brooklyn, New York; Detroit; Montreal and Toronto.

The tour is produced by Young’s Monami Entertainment and Live Nation. Presale begins tomorrow, and tickets will become available to the general public on Friday.

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