Four-time Grammy winner Missy Elliott can now add another title to her list of accolades. Missy Elliott received an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music on Saturday, and her speech will inspire musicians and non-musicians alike.
In a statement about the honorary doctorates — this year, the school also presented them to Justin Timberlake and Alex Lacamoire — Berklee recognized Elliott’s vast contributions to rap and hip-hop. The university also noted that next month, Elliott will be the first woman rapper to join the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
"There will be ups and downs — prepare for that," Elliott told the college’s graduates, according to CBS Local in Boston. "As long as you are breathing, it is never too late. Don’t forget that. You have come too far to quit."
To hone in on her point, Elliott described some of the own hardships she’d faced, including being dropped from a record label at one point. Elliott persevered, though, and she has become one of the most renowned hip-hop artists in history. The rapper also shared a video of herself dancing and holding the honorary diploma on Instagram on Saturday, May 11. "CREATE YOUR OWN LANE!!!! Sincerely Dr. MISSY ELLIOTT @Berkleecollege #VA #757," she captioned the post.
Some of Elliott’s fellow artists, including Timberlake, Janelle Monáe, and Timbaland, commented with words of congratulations for the star, too. And Pharrell tweeted a video from the ceremony, along with some words of congratulations for the three musicians.
As People reported, Elliott is the first woman rapper to receive an honorary doctorate from Berklee. And based on her Instagram video, she’s absolutely stoked about it.
Elliott also tweeted about the honorary degree on Monday. "This is still SURREAL to me I keep crying it’s such a feeling I can’t even explain," she wrote. In the video she posted, the rapper says to the roaring crowd, "Let me just soak it in," while tearing up at the event.
It looks like Elliott’s message resonated with fans and Berklee grads, too. One student tweeted that the school was "iconic" for honoring the three artists. "So lucky and blessed to be in the presence of our honorees," another student tweeted.
Another fan called Elliott and Timberlake "legends" for receiving the honorary doctorates.
"Missy is more than deserving to join the ranks alongside Duke Ellington, Patti LaBelle, Quincy Jones and Chaka Khan among others," another person tweeted.
"You are incredible and it is awesome to see you being recognized for the force that you are and have been for so many years," another fan tweeted at Elliott, adding that they’d been moved to tears by her speech. "That speech touched my soul," another person wrote on Twitter.
Elliott’s speech will resonate with fans regardless of their education background or field of study. As she said in her speech, it’s "never too late" to pursue your dreams, whatever they may be. And that’s a message everyone could stand to hear sometimes.
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