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Missy Elliott Named First Female Rapper Inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame

Why did it take so long for a female hip-hop artist to be inducted?

On June 13, Missy Elliott will become the first female rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame (SHOF).

Since its establishment in 1969, SHOF has claimed to serve "as a vital bridge between music's past and future," honoring "musical pioneers" with a minimum of 20 years publishing hit songs. In its 50 years, only two rappers have ever been inducted (Jay Z and Jermaine Dupri); Elliott will be the third and first female in the genre, but why has it taken so long?

Elliott has proven to be a mainstream giant for over 20 years, as the only female rapper to have all of her six studio albums go platinum. She's also written for industry icons like Whitney Houston and Mary J. Blige. SHOF describes the "Get Ur Freak On" and "Work It" writer as "one of the most significant female artists in contemporary music history" and an "across-the-board cultural icon." The organization touted that Elliott's selection is part of a year that especially highlights diversity in the music industry, stating, "The 2019 slate of inductees represents diversity and unity across genres and gender, highlighting our dedicated mission to honor music creators who have enriched our lives. These are writers who in their time literally transformed music and helped make what's happening today possible."

SHOF Chairman Nile Rodgers, who himself was inducted into the hall of fame in 2016, appeared on CBS This Morning to praise Elliott making history, but also lament how long it's taken. He stated, "To me it's important to have equality. I've written with a lot of women songwriters, but not nearly enough." He added that Elliott is one of his "favorite writers of all time."

Rodgers said of all this year's inductees, "The first thing you need to know is it's about the song, the second thing you need to know is it's about the song, the third thing you need to know is it's about the song." He added, "That's true now more than ever but it has always been about the song so I'm very proud that in my first year as Chairman of the Songwriter's Hall of Fame that we are recognizing some of the culturally most important songwriters of all time."

Elliott took to Twitter to share her gratitude. She posted, "I want to CONGRATULATE all the AMAZING songwriters who have been inducted into the 2019 Song Writers Hall of Fame," she tweeted. "Also those who were nominated because their body of work is AMAZING. I AM SO HUMBLY GRATEFUL to now be inducted also. I [love] you all."

Other 2019 inductees include Dallas Austin, Tom T. Hall, John Prine, Jack Tempchin, and Yusuf / Cat Stevens.

Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.

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