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Washington, DC – 

Missy Elliott is considered one of the most influential figures in Hip Hop history, but even she has her heroes — among them, Queen Latifah as many might expect.

Earlier this month, the “U.N.I.T.Y” hitmaker became the first female rapper to be honored at the annual Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, DC. The spectacular ceremony, which CBS aired on Wednesday (December 27), featured her discussing the importance of the accolade as well as a tribute put together by MC Lyte, Monie Love and D-Nice in Latifah’s honor.

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The highlight of the evening, however, was when Missy took the stage to reflect on how much the 53-year-old legend means to her.

“I want to tell y’all a little backstory,” she began. “I was coming home from high school and I used to watch a lot of videos and I happened to see this young woman rapping, but what caught my attention was her clothes, because she had on an African print — the African medallion. And I kept hearing her say, ‘Oh, ladies first, ladies first,’ over and over and over again.”

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She continued: “I sat there and I was like, ‘Wow, she’s saying that during a time that we kept hearing it’s a man’s world.’ She was saying this unapologetically, changing the narrative right there. Something that I was so accustomed to hearing, but now I’m hearing, ‘Ladies First.’ Then I said, ‘Who is this girl?’ And I looked at the bottom of the screen and it said ‘Queen Latifah.’ Not Latifah, but Queen Latifah.

“That only said to me that she was saying, ‘You will respect me … I will be a leader, I will be a provider, I will be an inspiration to many, I will be the blueprint to success. I won’t be just a part of the culture; I’ll be royalty to the culture. I won’t set the bar; I am the bar.’”

“Ladies First,” which is also the song her comrades performed for her at the event, dropped in 1989 as part of the New Jersey native’s debut album, All Hail The Queen.

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It went on to peak at No. 5 Billboard’s Hot Rap Songs tally upon its release.

In 2017, LL Cool J made history when he became the first Hip Hop artist to be honored during the Kennedy Center Honors. The 40th annual event featured a colorful tribute to the rapper-turned-actor and was a monumental win for the culture.

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With DJ Z-Trip behind the decks, Busta Rhymes exploded onto the stage dressed in a red bucket hat and all-red tracksuit to perform LL’s 1990 hit, “Mama Said Knock You Out,” with fellow Brooklyn native Spliff Star hyping up the crowd.

Queen Latifah Becomes First Female Rapper To Join National Recording Registry

Queen Latifah Becomes First Female Rapper To Join National Recording Registry

Then, MC Lyte grabbed the mic to rap 1987’s “I’m Bad” before The RootsBlack Thought kicked his version of 1989’s “It Gets No Rougher.” Finally, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of Run DMC closed out the medley with a rendition of 1985’s “Rock The Bells.”

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Ahead of the spirited musical tribute, Queen Latifah introduced the man of the evening with a brief history of his life, after which Questlove delivered a speech about his impact not only on him but all of Hip Hop.

LL later took to Twitter to express his gratitude, writing: “I want to personally thank every single one of you !! “You bought the songs you attended the concerts!! You called the radio stations!! “You” inspired me!!! You’ve been with me the whole time. I love you #HIPHOP!! ‘WE’ MADE HISTORY!!!”