Nicki Minaj lands one of seven covers for T: The New York Times Style Magazine’s “The Greats” issue. The cover story was shot by famed photographer Patrick Demarchelier, and during her sit down, Minaj spoke about her upcoming album, her inspirations, and more.
On What She Looks For In Other Rappers: “Do you sound intelligent?” she said. “Does your flow switch up? Are you in command of the beat?”
On Rappers Who Inspire Her: “JAY-Z, Lil Wayne, Foxy Browny—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 Her Upcoming Album: “This album is everything in my life coming full circle and me being truly, genuinely happy,” she tells Roxanne Gay, the author who interviewed her for the cover. “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 How She Handled Her Previous Albums: “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.”
On Overcoming Hurdles: “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.”