Janet Jackson and Missy Elliott (Corey Townsend/The Root)

2018 has been deemed the year of the black woman, and Essence kicked off Grammy weekend by honoring four-time Grammy winner Missy Elliott at its 9th Annual Black Women in Music event in New York City on Thursday night.

From the start of her career, Missy hit the scene hard, and her style and talent have left an indelible mark on all of our lives. Male or female, you can’t say you haven’t been touched by at least one song this woman produced. Any woman who can make wearing a trash-bag-styled outfit iconic deserves all the accolades and recognition. Give Missy her flowers!

Essence described Missy as “a consummate visionary whose creativity knows no limits.” The fact is, she basically invented the music video. I remember being mesmerized as a child by her visual artistry. She painted a picture with her aesthetics, and did I mention she MADE A TRASH BAG FASHION?! Missy owned her style at a time when women were molded to be cookie-cutter, and she changed up the definition of what it means to be a performer in the music industry. Before your faves did it, Missy did it and did it in a way that is still relevant 20 years later.

“Not only have you made your mark in this industry, but you’ve done so with boldness and courage,” said longtime friend and surprise guest Janet Jackson at the event. Jackson reminded the crowded room how Missy stood toe to toe with the men in the industry and showed them that a woman could take charge, be innovative and creative without fear. “When creativity flows so freely from a musical genius, all we can do is express gratitude,” Jackson said, and that’s exactly what she and many others did last night.

“The artistry of Missy cuts across generations, underscored by her vast creative contributions to the culture. So prolific is her work, she is an inspiration to women all over the world,” said Essence Editor-in-Chief Vanessa De Luca. Luca uttered what many of us know, which is that Missy Elliott is not only a musical artist but a national treasure.

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Finally it was Missy’s turn to speak, and when she hit that stage, the room transformed into First Corinthians Baptist Church on the most HIGH. Missy took the crowd to church, and I’m pretty sure a collection plate of offering was passed around during her time onstage. Can I get an amen?!

“In this industry, a relationship is more than just a check. As long as you keep a great relationship, you will always get a check because people will always remember how you made them feel,” Missy said, preaching on the power of good relationships, and speaking to how being genuine will get you far, not only in the music industry but also in life.

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Missy Elliott hit us with the hee, reminded us we have no business with 60-second men, and did so by continually being unapologetically herself and always supa dupa fly. She is a woman who has refused to follow the rules and has pushed boundaries and shifted cultures, and there will never be another. She changed not only the game but the world with finger waves and a trash bag, and we’re all better people because of her!