They don’t call Nicki Minaj the best-selling female rapper for nothing. The undeniable New York MC has earned her coveted seat at the top of Hip-Hop due to her unique versatility in the industry. She can rap her socks off. Pair that with her animated flow and her witty alter egos and accents, and you’ve got the recipe for a superstar.
The Trinidadian-born rapper’s decorated music career was recently celebrated, in i-D magazine’s “Royalty” issue. For the new feature, Minaj sat down for an extended interview with City Girls star JT, to talk about her role in changing Hip-Hop’s landscape and what the future holds for her bountiful career.
Before Minaj took the music industry by storm, the braggadocious rapper showed off her strong lyricism through a series of mixtapes, some of which are still fan favorites today, such as 2009’s Beam Me Up Scotty. In 2010, the Queens-bred femcee skyrocketed to fame following the release of her debut album Pink Friday. The project dominated the Billboard 200 chart, thanks to the album’s fifth single “Super Bass,” a pop anthem that seemed to stray away from the Hip-Hop titan’s rap roots.
JT wasn’t a fan of Nicki Minaj’s pop transformation
During the interview, JT admitted that she was heartbroken when Minaj began venturing into the pop world.
“I thought I knew her, but I did not,” JT said, recalling the first time she heard Nicki’s music.
“I was a delusional little girl who had this love/hate relationship in my mind with Nicki Minaj,” the Miami native continued on, noting how she was drawn to the New York femcee’s strong lyricism in some of the early mixtapes that helped propel her stardom.
“I knew how to rap always, and Nicki knew too. I was so deep in the gutter when Nicki first started. She was the round-the-way girl. She did the ‘Jump Off’ remix, and I was like, ‘She’s so pretty, she’s so hood.’ A couple of years later, you went into your more pop era.”
The “Act Up” rapper continued:
“It was a heartbreak moment for a hood girl. It was like, ‘Damn Nicki, you left us.’ Then you came back with your straight hair and your sexy look, and I was like, ‘Okay, so she still f**k with us.’ If you were to ever look down my tweets, there would always be good tweets and bad tweets. That was the disconnection.”
Minaj’s 2012 follow-up album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, continued to explore dance-pop with the album’s lead single “Starships.” The track was so successful, that it peaked across the top five in fifteen countries. Then, two years later, the rapper drifted back to her raw Hip-Hop roots with The Pinkprint.
Nicki Minaj talks about how her shift to pop impacted her career
During the interview, Minaj acknowledged her musical shift, noting how “Super Bass” in particular, “wasn’t even supposed to be a single.”
“It became huge. Rather than going back to point A, I thought, ‘I now need something to be a continuation of ‘Super Bass.’” And so I put out ‘Starships,’” the 39-year-old star explained. “That’s when people in the Hip-Hop community really felt, ‘Oh my God, we lost her,’” Minaj admitted, before praising JT for bringing the topic up.
“No one in my life or career has ever explained what you just explained to me that way. You articulated that so well that I was finally able to understand the disconnect and some of the heartbreak that my really hood fans must’ve felt seeing me come from The Come Up DVD and mixtapes and Pink Friday to doing “Starships” and “Pound the Alarm.”
JT empathized with the rapper, stating that now, as an artist herself, she could see why some big names in the industry have shifted their careers to pop. She also admitted that she and other rising female rappers have essentially followed Minaj’s “pinkprint” to success.
“When you do a pop song you get a different type of respect, and that’s when a band gets bigger. Now there are more female rappers and that’s literally what we do,” JT said before Minaj chimed in:
“They’re all doing it now. By the way, not only are they all doing it now, not one has been criticized.”
New music is on the way, according to Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj has left fans salivating for a new album since the release of 2018’s Queen. While chatting with her sister in hip-hop JT, the rap star hinted that her fifth album may be ready for release in the near future.
“I’m not gonna say when it’s gonna come out, but the album will be out soon,” Minaj said.
In addition to new music, the rapper also teased the launch of her new nail design company.
“I am working on a nail design company, where people will be able to buy my press-on nail with dope designs,” the hitmaker added. “I was already working on that before someone auctioned my press-on nail for $50,000 or whatever they spent on it.”