Missy Elliott has never been one to take her foot off of our necks. After decades of dropping fire album after fire album, introducing talented artist after talented artist, she took a hiatus to take care of herself. But it didn't even feel like a break: her music was so ahead of its time, it felt like we were just catching up after the fact.
We got back on the same page after Missy returned to the public eye during Super Bowl XLIX, when Katy Perry famously brought her out for a surprise appearance. Well folks, she's back in the mega football spotlight this year, but this time she's stepping up the hype levels. In an ad for Mountain Dew and Doritos—which was previewed last week—Missy and Morgan Freeman join forces to lip sync battle Busta Rhymes and Peter Dinklage. Freeman, coached by Missy, swags his way through her iconic single "Get Your Freak On," while Dinklage delivers straight flames on Busta's verse from "Look at Me Now" by Chris Brown. You can watch the full spot up top and decide for yourself who the winning team is.
To get the scoop on how this ad came together, Complex got Missy on the phone. In addition to talking about her partnership with Mountain Dew for its new product, Mtn Dew Ice, The Misdemeanor also broke down her favorite music collaboration, and gave some priceless advice to women looking to make waves in the rap game.
How did you get involved with Mountain Dew, and did you have any creative input with working on this product?
Mountain Dew reached out to my people, and of course when they said who the players on the team was—I mean, who could turn down being in something so epic, with Busta and Peter and Morgan? Besides it being a great drink, I mean, shoot, the players is crazy, too. So you know I was down for it.
I didn’t have any part in coming up with the idea, but when I look at it, I think it’s amazing because it fit the style of videos that me and Busta have done, so it felt like home to me, and I’m quite sure to Busta, too.
What was your favorite part of filming this ad?
Oh God, I mean it was so many favorite parts, but I think my favorite part was probably just me and Busta, because it was like a reunion for us. We’ve been knowing each other for... whew! Since my first album. [Laughs.] We call each other Twin because we’re so much alike. So for me and him, we just laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh. It’s like playing catch-up.
What was it like working with Morgan Freeman? Were you really one-on-one coaching him? Or did he kind of get it down on his own?
Oh, Morgan got that on his own. [Laughs.] Man, he got that on his own. Him and Peter, they’re already pros, so they pretty much ain’t need coaching. Me and Busta just hype men.
[Laughs.] Yeah, it was really cool to see. We know you came out at the Super Bowl before with Katy Perry and you smashed it and everybody was just excited. So, what is it like to be near that big stage again with this commercial?
I mean, it’s amazing each time to be a part of the Super Bowl, whether it was me performing for it or a commercial. That is one of the most-watched events on TV and I think everybody always looks forward to seeing what’s gonna happen besides the game—what’s gonna happen during the commercials, who’s gonna have the hot commercials. It’s a blessing I feel honored to be a part of. It’s epic: when I look at it, it’s epic and it feels great. I feel blessed.
Speaking of epic, I wanna switch gears and talk about your epic success in music. You’re a figure that brings women together, going back to the '90s when you had "Ladies Night," and everything else. What are some of your favorite memories of collaborating, especially with women?
Oh, my favorite memory would have to be "Ladies Night," which was a Lil' Kim record actually. And I think that was probably another epic, epic moment, to see so many strong, powerful women come together. No egos, and everybody just having fun. Even looking back at that video, I’m just like, "Wow, I forgot such and such and this person was in it." It seemed like every woman out there came out and supported that record and that moment.
I would hope to see that again at some point before we leave this Earth. [Laughs.] Or I’d hate for Earth to leave us first. I would love to see that moment again, because it most definitely was a time to remember.
Yes, I’ll never forget watching that video on TV and making my mom do my hair every time it came on because I loved to swing my lil' synthetic hair around. It was so much fun.
You could go ahead and swing yo' weave around, it's all good! You was swinging yo' weave around! [Laughs.] That was most definitely a time to remember, for sure.
You have such an overarching perspective of hip-hop, and I know you just said that you would love to see something like "Ladies Night" come together again. Do you feel like we’re in a place where that could happen anytime soon? Do you feel like hip-hop is getting better at letting women do their thing together? Or do you feel the opposite?
No, I would never say "never" to anything. Before that, I don’t know if there had been so many women who were out there and famous to come together like that. So I can’t never say that that won’t happen again because if you would’ve asked me years before that we probably wouldn’t have known that that could happen then. So I just hope it would. But you know, hey, I’m rooting for it, if it does, for sure.
Definitely. As such a trailblazer in rap, and someone who has paved the way for so many women in so many different avenues—producing, rapping, singing—what advice would you give to new women who are trying to come up in the game right now?
The advice that I would give to women that’s trying to come up is basically... I know it probably sounds like the regular, "I done heard it before," but it’s the truth: just be yourself. Real will recognize real. And don’t be afraid of that, to be different. A lot of times, we get a little scared because the masses is doing one thing and your style may be different, but those are the ones that kinda stand out to me.
So, I would most definitely say continue to be yourself and don’t just settle for anything. I just wrote that on my Instagram. Don’t settle for anything just to get to the top. Be patient, and what is for you will come. And when it comes, then you will feel even greater about it because you didn’t settle.