Missy Covers Essence Plus Will Headline Festival


Missy ‘Misdemeanor’ Elliott will headline the 2023 Essence Festival when the event returns to the Caesars Supersome from June 29 to July 3.

Essence Fest announced the addition to the music lineup Thursday morning via Twitter.

“The legend that is Missy ‘Misdemeanor’ Elliott will be headlining Essence Festival to help us celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop!” Essence Fest said in a tweet.

Unlike Midas, the mythical king who prayed for the ability to turn everything he touched to gold, Elliott didn’t have grand plans to shift the hip-hop industry into her own moneymaking enterprise. The Portsmouth, Virginia, native just wanted the might to claw her way, and her mother’s way, out of a life of poverty. Her father, a former Marine, had physically abused her mother. Turns out there was some heartache lurking behind the animated smiles, jazz hands and one-legged hops.  

There are revolutionary hip-hop acts with debuts that came before and after hers, but Elliott holds the distinction of being rap’s first solo female global star. It’s disrespectful to call her work magic, because it’s far from a trick. Her unshakable connection with her audience wasn’t a flash in the pan. Elliott worked for it every time, and never faltered. She made a hot song. Then dropped that album. Then released another single—you remember, right? The songs kept coming, the thermostat remained untouched. The albums? The ones certified by the Recording Industry Association of America, critics, grandmothers, high school badasses, block party DJs, and kids who abide by the street lights? And that’s not even counting the hits she gave other people. Or the waves she started that are still reverberating in the form of fresh faces.  

Six platinum albums, four Grammys, and more than a handful of instantly classic, I-remember-exaaactly-where-I-was-when-I-peeped-that-joint-level music videos later, Elliott is now making history as the first woman in rap to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. She says she most definitely didn’t see that achievement in the cards, a gentle reminder that her humility is almost as famous as she is. Can modesty and notability be considered a double helix of her musical DNA?  

As a girl, Melissa Arnette Elliott prayed for acclaim, telling her classmates she’d be famous one day. Elliott also pretended to have conversations with Janet Jackson and Madonna; later, not only would she join them as emblems of feminist freedom, but she would also work on songs with them both.