I do not post a lot of Nicki Minaj shoots, but this one was really cool because it showed a side of Nicki that wasn’t contoured and colored to death. People are saying the shoot is giving Sade vibes – check out some of the highlights:
Read via TMagazine
MINAJ’S PUBLIC IMAGE and personas are carefully curated. The tabloids have assiduously tracked her professional and personal lives and I restrain myself from asking about her ex Safaree Samuels, who appears on “Love & Hip Hop,” a reality television series about the music industry, and if she would ever give Drake a shot. (I restrain myself greatly.) I don’t know that anyone but her inner circle knows who Nicki Minaj really is.
This elusiveness is compounded by her fascinating catalog of performative alter egos, including Harajuku Barbie (a fashionista obsessed with pink and Minaj’s longest-running persona), Nicki Teresa (known as “The Healer”) and the sexually explicit Nicki Lewinsky — there is even a male persona, Roman Zolanski, a slightly exaggerated version of Minaj herself.
She has a vocal range that can go from a high-pitched twittering to a growl in a few bars. In both music and regular conversation, she enjoys playing with accents, offering up valley girl-speak or island patois. During our time together, she switched to a British accent a couple of times and then effortlessly returned to her normal voice, a slightly affectless cadence that recalls her Queens upbringing.
In public, she often wears dramatic makeup, dramatic outfits and a rainbow of dramatic wigs, which is to say she performs both on- and offstage. There is no point during our conversation where Minaj demonstrates anything but absolute self-awareness. She pauses briefly before she answers my questions, as if calculating every possible outcome to everything she says. By the end of the interview, I am impressed by her fierce intelligence.
But she’s at her most animated and unguarded when she’s talking about music, and she thinks about music in deep and complex ways. She has strong opinions on what’s necessary to make a great rapper: “Do you sound intelligent? Does your flow switch up? Are you in command of the beat? I listen for things like that.” Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Foxy Brown — “Those are the three I keep in my head when I’m writing because they’ve influenced me so much,” she says. “I feel like I’m a part of all of them.”
I’m curious about whom Minaj thinks she’s influenced herself. She tells me that around two years ago, Kanye West said to her, “ ‘Every girl I hear rap, I can hear Nicki in her rap.’ I didn’t ask him who, but that was such a great compliment. Because sometimes you think you’re the only one that can hear those types of things.”
It feels like Minaj is on the verge of another big moment in her career, and she knows it. “This is definitely the most inspired and free and excited I’ve been since I started releasing albums through a label,” she says. She is also deeply reflective about her evolution as an artist. I ask if the transition from making mixtapes to studio albums compromises the joy of creation and she answers, “Yeah, because … artists do it to themselves. I’m not going to blame a label. You just overthink. When you’re doing your own little thing, you feel like, I can be myself, I can be crazy. When you start working with a record company, you start thinking you need a bigger sound. I wanted to get back to the place where I wasn’t second-guessing things so much. Sometimes simple is O.K.”
Read the rest of her interview here.