Nicki Minaj is reclaiming the narrative. After opening up a dialogue with fans in last night’s Instagram Live, the rapper sat down with Joe Budden for an exhaustive interview. While the 39-year-old steered clear of the hot-button issues that have plagued her of late, she addressed a long list of topics including plastic surgery, upcoming projects, chart manipulation, motherhood, and the state of female rap.
The “Do We Have A Problem?” hitmaker was particularly transparent about the latter subject, explaining how she feels about being the blueprint and avoiding trends that many of her contemporaries jump on. Minaj was particularly vocal about the way that female rappers have been treated by the fashion industry despite the huge influence of their genre. As a result, she’s embracing her entrepreneurial side in a bid to become a makeup and hair mogul.
Here are 15 of the biggest takeaways from Minaj’s interview:
1. A social media “guinea pig”
Minaj points out that she emerged at the same time as social media, and was subjected to the brunt of its worst qualities. “I was one of the first people to be shitted on on the internet,” she says. “Every day I would go on, and it was some new story, some made up story or bad picture.”
2. Ass shots and Lil Wayne
The New York artist reveals that she got “ass shots” in Atlanta after seeing the bevvy of curvy women that Lil Wayne would bring into the studio. “Wayne would have a new chick in the studio every session, so it was always a new big booty,” Minaj says. “They were his muses. I wanna make sure I don’t downplay [the women] because they have a big part in the journey of a rapper’s career.”
However, being exposed to that atmosphere and hearing jokes about her own body made the superstar self conscious. “I was around them all the time,” she continues, “all I would hear them talking about is big butts. I didn’t feel complete or good enough.” Minaj emphasizes that it wasn’t intention, but adds: “When you say certain things around women you can’t take them back.”
3. Queen Radio is returning
Minaj revealed that Queen Radio, her explosive Beats 1 show, would return — albeit on another platform. “I took Queen Radio to another company,” she says. In last night’s Instagram Live, the rapper revealed that the show would be hosted on Amazon’s Amp app.
4. Rappers are still vilified
“Rap is the only genre of music, rap is the only culture that, from the beginning of time, has been vilified,” Minaj says. “We’re held to a different level of judgment.” Ultimately, she believes that racism is the reason. “I think it’s about our culture,” Minaj says, “I just don’t think that any culture that’s predominantly white would get that.” Budden then brought up New York mayor Eric Adams’ comments linking drill music with crime rates. “The reason why he’s probably doing that is to point the finger,” she responds. “Shame on him.”
5. She is the blueprint
Minaj is well aware that her contemporaries look at her as the blueprint. “I think it’s the girls, what their perception of a female rapper is,” she begins. “And they think, ‘This is what I have to look like.’” The “Chun-Li” artist points to her iconic pink wig. “I would never see any female rapper wearing pink hair, pink hair became a part of that starter kit,” Minaj continues. “Every female rapper will put on a pink wig at some point.”
6. Pregnancy writer’s block
The prolific artist admits she had “severe” writer’s block while pregnant. Instead of spitting bars, Minaj was more interested in reading mommy blogs. “I was just online googling and youtubing pregnant women all day,” she laughs. “Regular women documenting their journey, answering questions. I was consumed with that.”
7. Her predecessors deserved better
The rapper took a stand for the artists that came before her. “Did they have the opportunities?” she ponders. “Some of the biggest rappers, some of the most influential rappers, they’ve never made a million dollars for a show. They’ve never made what they absolutely deserved based on the doors that they opened for others, based on their level of talent, their level of influence.” As such, she can understand how they might react to the deals being offered to today’s stars.
“They’ve never been rewarded for doing any of those things and now they get to sit back and watch other artists who they know [are not] as talented as them [succeed]. I know that can’t be easy for them to watch.”
8. A documentary and film role are in the works
Minaj revealed that she’s working on a documentary, but was coy about the details, saying: “when it’s ready I’ll let you know.” The multi-hyphenate also disclosed that she’s in the running for an upcoming film role. “I am working with a director working on a movie,” she says. “It’s a bigger role than I’ve ever taken on.”
9. Minaj is founding record and management companies
“I am creating my own management company,” the budding mogul says. “I’m also doing my record company.” Excitingly, she has already signed artists. “I have a couple of artists that I will start the record company with,” Minaj says. “I’ll speak on that closer to album time.”
10. “Queen” wasn’t quite ready
Minaj has some regrets about her last studio album, 2018’s “Queen.” “I don’t think it was presented correctly,” she says, before admitting that it was pushed forward to be ready for the MTV VMAs. Furthermore, the rapper wasn’t prepared for the toll of promotion. “I don’t think mentally I was in the right place,” she says. “I don’t think I even presented myself correctly.” Ultimately, she wishes it had been postponed: “I don’t even think the album should have been put out at that time.”
11. Wake up, American Vogue!
The hitmaker is outspoken about the way the fashion industry marginalizes female rappers and black women. “You would think that right now hip-hop is the biggest, most influential genre in the world, you would think that the biggest female rapper of all time, who has set so many trends, would have been on the cover of American Vogue, but she hasn’t,” Minaj says. She then points out that white women are treated differently.
“When Billie Eilish comes out and sets a trend with her green hair, she’s immediately put on American Vogue,” Minaj says. The artist does have some kind words for Anna Wintour, who she says has always treated her very graciously. Instead, she calls on the creatives around Wintour to plead her case and help uplift black women and female rappers.
12. An olive branch to Lil Kim
While Minaj’s relationship with Lil Kim has been rocky, she extended the rap pioneer an olive branch, hinting that she would be willing to do a versus with her. Moreover, she also thinks Kim should have had her own American Vogue cover. “The same way I feel like I should have been on the cover of American Vogue,” Minaj says, “so should have Lil Kim.”
However, Foxy Brown is still her favorite female rapper. “I gravitated towards Foxy Brown because she used to spit like a dude,” Minaj says. “Even to this day, her precision, the way she pronounces things is unmatched.”
13. Chart manipulation
Minaj has made it clear that she is dissatisfied with the way that charts are tabulated. In her interview with Budden, the rap star takes umbrage with the algorithm. “Billboard just changed the rules about what’s going to count and not going to count,” she says. “Once they realize that fans or artists have the power, they do the old switcheroo.” Minaj takes umbrage at radio propelling songs up the charts, particularly when those songs don’t have large streaming numbers. Ultimately, she is open about the issue for the sake of her fans. “My fans do so much,” Minaj says. “I don’t want my fans feeling bad about themselves.”
14. Hands-on mom
Minaj reveals that she is a very hands-on mom. “I also wanted to bond with my child,” she says. “He still has never had a nanny.” The rapper says her son takes after her and is very determined and strong-willed “despite being born in Beverly Hills.”
15. Chasing trends is for suckers
While music is inherently cyclical, Minaj avoids chasing trends. “I wasn’t going to come out with an explicit song cause I feel like that’s what everyone’s doing,” she explains. “Once anyone has success with anything, everyone jumps on the sound.” There’s a price to pay for doing that. “If you jump on every trend, you become faceless,” she says. “I don’t need to be in the rat race.”
Watch the full interview below: