*Over the last four years, Nicki Minaj has earned her stripes in hip-hop and the mainstream. So much so that the raptress is revisiting her roots for her forthcoming album while breaking barriers down outside the genre she started in.
Sitting down with Fader magazine, Minaj opens up on writing your own rhymes as well as what makes her cry, why Lil Wayne will never be her peer and the importance of black women conquering other industries outside of music.
The following are highlights from Nicki Minaj’s Fader magazine cover story:
She thinks it’s fraud for a rapper to not write their own rhymes
“My point of saying what I said was that women need to have a perspective,” she starts off. “If we’re out here saying that we’re so confident, and we’re so this and so that, but we don’t even trust ourselves to write down our own thoughts and spit it on a beat?” She’s getting ignited, her volume picking up. “It just doesn’t add up.” Then she launches into a verbal love letter to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill: “I knew those were Lauryn’s words, and it made me fall in love with her mind.”
Talking about her family makes her cry
She has a younger brother, too, who recently turned 16, and Nicki says that lately she’s experienced bouts of guilt over leaving her siblings. Her younger brother was just a child when she signed with Young Money and left her mom’s home. “One day he asked my mother, ‘Do you ever think there’ll come a time we all live in the same house again, and Onika will be back and she’ll have her room, and I’ll have my room?’” Nicki says. “And it just broke my heart.” Before a tear can muck up any of her makeup, Samuels wordlessly pops up from the couch to nab her a tissue. As soon as the curtain of Nicki’s private life cracks open, revealing the sacrifices she’s made for her career, it’s pulled back again. “I don’t want to get emotional,” she says, “I just miss them. Every time I talk about them, I get emotional.”
She will never look at Lil Wayne as a peer
In the early days of her career, sometimes she’d text message him, and he’d respond with a comically disappointing one-word answer. “Now we can have conversations and enjoy each other,” she says. “But I don’t think I’ll ever feel like he’s my peer because of how much he’s done for me. I’ll always think of him like…” she pauses, grins and breathlessly bats her painted eyelashes like a starstruck teen. “Like the king.” Years earlier, he’d noticed her on the budget hip-hop documentary series The Come Up DVD, sought her out and mentored her. “I give Wayne credit because he saw me and pretty much picked me out of a lineup, and he knew enough to run with Drake as well,” she continues. “From early on, he was so generous with helping younger artists, and it paid off well for him.”
She was nervous about going mainstream
“I remember when I started doing mainstream stuff,” she says, “and I was like, ‘Oh my god, are they gonna like me, or are they not gonna like me?’ At the beginning, I was very nervous.”
“I felt like my pop music made me have to retell my story. My credibility as an MC—I never thought I would have to explain that,” she says. “I thought it was so evident that I belonged here [in hip-hop]. Looking back now, I love that I was pushed to reinvent myself,” she says, “because when I sit back and I really look, I need hip-hop, and hip-hop needs me.”
She’s out to prove that a black woman, especially a rapper, can sell things outside of music
When asked if she’s ever considered dialing back on any of the extracurriculars, Nicki is firm. “Helllllll no,” she says. Rap cannot contain her music, and neither can any one pursuit contain Nicki’s ambition. “I’ve done things where people are like, ‘Uhhhh,’” she says, making a theatrically perplexed face. “But every time I do a business venture or something that isn’t the norm for a female rapper, I pat myself on the back. It’s important that corporate America can see a young black woman being able to sell things outside of music.” Then she mentions that she’s planning a deal with the Home Shopping Network, and her eyes grow huge: “A female rapper! With HSN!
For Nicki Minaj’s full interview with Fader magazine, click here.