Nicki Minaj had landed one of the eight covers for the latest issue of New York Times’ T Magazine called “The Greats” where they have featured 8 people doing amazing things in their respective fields.
In the cover story, Nicki Minaj sat down with writer Roxane Gay to talk about her upcoming fourth studio album, her new found confidence, why she feels so free today, being content with life, not getting the props she deserves and more. Find a few excerpts below.
On her new, yet untitled album: “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.”
On qualities of a good 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, I feel like I’m a part of all of them.”
On feeling free and not pressured by the label: “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.”
“I kind of love that I’ve had to go through so many hurdles to get where I am because I feel like I deserve it. I had so much going against me in the beginning: being black, being a woman, being a female rapper. No matter how many times I get on a track with everyone’s favorite M.C. and hold my own, the culture never seems to want to give me my props as an M.C., as a lyricist, as a writer. I got to prove myself a hundred times, whereas the guys that came in around the same time as I did, they were given the titles so much quicker without anybody second-guessing.”