When Missy Elliott performed with Katy Perry at this year's Super Bowl, she proved that the public still had an insatiable appetite for her music. The brief guest spot launched her singles and albums back onto the Billboard charts, and speculation ran rampant about her impending return to the industry. Yet for the better part of the year, she held off on dropping studio material; it was only recently that she dropped the Pharrell collaboration "WTF (Where They From)." Now, in a cover story for Billboard, the pioneering rapper opens up about her absence, her anxieties and her plans for the future.

Elliott admits that after word got out about her Super Bowl appearance the night before she was scheduled to go on, she was crippled by nervousness--to the point she had to be given an IV. She also revealed that, while she has been a professional musician for the better part of two decades, she's never been comfortable with other people infringing on her studio space. "I never record in front of anybody," she says, "Timbaland has never seen me record a day in his life. It’s just me and my little Yorkies, Poncho and Hoodie.” She describes her long absence as a "much-needed" break, saying that she was able to stay sharp by working for other artists as a writer and producer. And on the topic of a new LP, she was cautiously optimistic: "I want to say 2016 but I don’t want to give a time. Nowadays you say a time, they’ll stone you."