Between 1997 and 2005, Missy Elliott put out six studio albums, never pausing for more than two years between LPs. But it's been six years since The Cookbook, and though the innovative rapper/producer guested on a handful of tracks including Ciara's "Work" and kept up with fans via Twitter, we haven't seen that much of Miss E for a very legitimate reason: She's been battling Graves disease, an incurable autoimmune disorder caused by an overactive thyroid.
Elliott will open up about her experience with Graves and other sticky subjects in a new episode of VH1's Behind the Music next week. In the latest issue of People, she explains she was diagnosed in 2008 after a scary moment in her car: "My leg was jumping," she said. "I couldn't keep the brake down and almost crashed." Graves symptoms include muscle tremors, mood swings, bulging eyes, and hair loss, and Elliott said her nervous system became so spastic, she couldn't even hold a pen to write music -- a crushing situation for an artist as prolific and wildly creative as Missy.
After receiving radiation and taking medication with unpleasant side effects like weight gain, Elliott's condition has stabilized and she's even shed the 30 extra pounds she picked up from her treatment. She has told fans on Twitter a new single is coming soon, and reminded them she hasn't been totally inactive the past few years: "I'm always making music:) yall gotta start peeping the credits on these cds:)." She promises she's not rusty, telling People, "My ear ain't gone bad yet!"
Elliott's Behind the Music will also address the sexual abuse she endured as a child, a topic the rapper hasn't spoken about much publicly before. By sharing her story, "I felt that I would be able to help other people," she told the magazine. Timbaland, Ciara and Mary J. Blige will chat about their friend and collaborator in the special, which premieres on VH1 Wednesday, June 29th at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Special note to Missy: More of this please!
[Photo: Louise Wilson/WI/WireImage.com]