NEW YORK: Queen Latifah remembers being on set in 1997 for the music video for “Ladies Night (Not Tonight),” the female rap anthem starring Lil Kim, Missy Elliott and others. It featured a number of top female musicians performing on the song and making cameos in the video, including Left Eye, Da Brat, Angie Martinez, Mary J. Blige, SWV, Total and Xscape.
“That day was so much fun,” Latifah recalled in a phone interview Thursday. “That was pretty much like Missy asking for everybody to come down and be in the video.” “It was a good time. We just had a lot of good times,” she added. Elliott, like Latifah, opened doors for women in rap – and in music overall – helping female performers advance their careers through guest appearances on songs, writing and producing, and management. And while they were competitive, there was also a sense of camaraderie.
Fast-forward and those helped by Elliott and Latifah are now paying it back. The list of names honoring Elliott at “VH1 Hip Hop Honors: All Hail the Queens,” to air live Monday night (9 p.m. EDT) from David Geffen Hall in New York City, is long, from Pharrell to Timbaland to Nelly Furtado.
“The funny thing (is) I couldn’t even fit everyone. … People that I work with … we are like family; it extends beyond the music thing, so you know they were calling me like, ‘I’m performing right?’ I’m like, ‘Girl, I only got a certain amount of minutes and I can’t fit everybody,'” Elliott, laughing, said in a phone interview Wednesday. “I’m so thankful and humbled.”
Monica, Fantasia, Jazmine Sullivan, Remy Ma, Trina, Eve, Tweet, Keyshia Cole and Raven Symone will also honor Elliott. “VH1 Hip Hop Honors” is returning after a six-year hiatus. Common, Da Brat, MC Lyte, Naughty by Nature, Rah Digga, Suga T and Yo-Yo will pay tribute to Latifah, who will perform the 1989 classic “Ladies First” with Monie Love.
Lil Kim and Salt-N-Pepa will also be honored. “It’s important for me to be part of a celebration of ladies of hip-hop because I feel like it’s important we are recognized for our contributions to music and (that) our voices are heard,” Latifah said.
Elliott, whose hits include “Get Ur Freak On,” “Work It” and “Lose Control,” said she started to rap after listening to Salt-N-Pepa and learned all of their songs, including “the album cuts, the album fillers or whatever.” She also called Latifah and Lil Kim her “sisters.” “So for us to come together, that’s always been a dream of mine. That’s another blessing that something like this can bring us together,” she said.
Latifah said she hopes contemporary female rappers will collaborate like she and her peers did on the set of “Ladies Night.” “It was a good time in life … there were a lot more of us then (and) we were able to have a lot of fun together,” Latifah said. “I would love for the girls today to have that same camaraderie that we had. We competed with each other in a healthy way and at the same time (were) able to hang out with each other, and perform with each other, and get on each other’s records and really have fun with this music.”-AP