There was an unusual sighting Friday night in Los Angeles: a Missy Elliott performance.
The Grammy-winning rapper, who hasn’t released an album in 12 years, served as the headliner of FYF Fest’s opening night.
Just over 20 years after the release of her debut album Supa Dupa Fly, the legendary rapper and producer’s hour-long set at L.A.’s Exposition Park was made especially notable by the fact it was her first full-length U.S. show in a decade (she joined Katy Perry at the 2015 Super Bowl and headlined the 2015 Essence Festival). You wouldn’t have known it, though, considering Elliott didn’t miss a beat.
Read on for EW’s highlights from the show.
She wasn’t going to let anything stop her
Having waited 10 years for this moment, Elliott was determined to deliver. “I want y’all to know I was sick and I said, ‘I’m not going to miss this show for nothing,'” she admitted to the crowd. “We still come out here and rock this sh–.” If being sick wasn’t already making her job tough enough, Elliott later added that her mic pack wasn’t working and she couldn’t “hear sh–, but I’m still doing this sh–. That’s what you call a real artist.” Then, to top it all off, she was having trouble with her hair. “My hair is messed up too,” she shared. “It’s frizzing up. It’s still good hair, though.”
The hits still bang
While Elliott made sure to perform her new single “I’m Better,” which she dropped in January, the rapper knows what the people want and she provided it to supa dupa fly results. Even if much of the crowd was still years away from getting their driver’s license when the tracks were released, Elliott played all of her biggest hits, such as “Work It,” “Lose Control,” and “Get Ur Freak On” to rousing applause and dancing.
Getting your freak on is a phone free zone
Speaking of “Get Ur Freak On,” when it came time for the song, Elliott somehow managed to do the unthinkable: Convince concertgoers to put their phones away. “You got to put your phone down for one record,” she implored. “We make everybody in this joint, from front to back, jump as high as you can. And I’m going to keep stopping this joint until I see it.” She saw it, as the crowd at least temporarily put their phones away and jumped high in the sky together.
Elliott brings the celebrities to the park
No one was going to miss out on Elliott’s big performance. Not all of her “day ones.” Not even Beyoncé. Yes, Queen Bey was there, albeit mostly out of sight to the crowd. The revelation prompted Elliott to declare, “Mama, I done made it.” Other big appearances alluded to included Solange, Bjork, Janet Jackson, and Katy Perry, who definitely was down to “Lose Control.” While they seemed to all be watching from backstage and sectioned off areas, unsurprisingly, Tyler, the Creator didn’t mind being in a crowd.
The show ends in a surprising, but beautiful way
It sure looked like the night would wrap up with “Lose Control,” and that would have been a crowd-pleasing high point on which to end. Instead, Elliott flipped it and reversed course, asking everyone to now take their phones out and shine a light for “all the ones we’ve lost.” As she began to exit in the same chamber she arrived in and dancers held up images of Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac, her late collaborator Aaliyah’s “Rock the Boat” came on and played the rapper offstage. Let’s hope it’s not another decade until she’s back on it.