Onika Tanya Maraj, known professionally as Nicki Minaj graces one of seven covers of T Magazine’s Greats issue and sets the scene for her next album, which she’s been working on in Miami.
The author of Bad Feminist interviewed the female rapper for The New York Times’ T Magazine, bringing to light part of Nicki Minaj’s life many people never knew, her struggles in the industry, her influences, and those she influenced, plus her eagerly-anticipated upcoming album.
About her life before hip hop, Nicki Minaj waitressed as a young woman, and this is what she said about that period of her life:
“I would take people’s order and then a rap might come to me just by what they’re wearing or what they said or did, and I would go in the kitchen and write it down, put it in the back of my little thing or my apron, and by the time I was done I would have all of these sheets of paper thrown around everywhere with raps.”
About her fourth studio album which fans can’t wait to have, she said it is a “well-kept secret but is “super, super iconic.” She is still working on the album, that she ended up sleeping in a studio in Miami for two nights because she wanted to get it right, to “write and record and listen back and have excitement in all three of those stages.”
Speaking more about the album, why she is writing it, the idea behind it, she said:
“Sonically, I know what the album’s about to sound like. I know what this album is gonna mean to my fans. This album is everything in my life coming full circle and me being truly, genuinely happy. It feels almost like a celebration. The last album, The Pink Print, was almost like my diary, closing the chapter on certain things and not knowing if I was happy or sad about beginning new chapters. I was really writing about feeling unsure. Now, I can tell you guys what happened for the last two years of my life. I know who I am. I am getting Nicki Minaj figured out with this album and I’m loving her. This is definitely the most inspired and free and excited I’ve been since I started releasing albums through a label.”
Talking about her writing process, what it takes to make rapper, she said this is the pep talk she gives herself:
“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. I feel like I’m a part of all of them.
“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 OK.”
And asked if she thinks she influenced younger female rappers, she said 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.”
Read the full feature here