Missy Elliott – Beyoncé said: ‘If I sound crazy, don’t put this out!'

As she returns to the spotlight, the hip-hop icon talks Michelle Obama, collaborations and the truth behind her hiatus It must have been an eye-opening experience to watch Missy Elliott’s performance at the MTV video music awards last month if you had never encountered her before. Her six-song medley was a thrill-ride of kaleidoscopic visuals, VMAdancers and costume changes: Elliott was a cyberqueen, a B-girl, a scarecrow, an airborne beachball, a one-woman advertisement for what pop music can be. The performance, marking her video vanguard award, instantly went viral, capped a year of honours (an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music, the first female rapper in the Songwriters Hall of Fame) and coincided with the Iconology EP, her first new body of work since 2005. It dazzled the uninitiated while reminding millions of older fans what a vital creative force the 48-year-old was and how much we had missed her. Two days later, Elliott is still bathing in goodwill. “It’s a blessing,” she says, calling