FEATURE: Nicki Minaj Assumes Control

Nicki Minaj is chilling on Bowery, her petite glamour neutralizing the dank of Manhattan’s original Skid Row. Buxom and physically expressive, wearing a plush black fur jacket and thigh-high patent leather stiletto pumps, she looks like a snow bunny lost in the frigid city, except instead of a designer pocketbook, she’s clutching an open box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Half a block from her luxury room at The Bowery Hotel, a small crowd is gathering and gawking at her silhouette, a couple dudes weakly trying to holler from across the street. One 40-something Boricua with a camera phone musters the courage to ask for a picture, excited to send it to her son, and Minaj sweetly obliges. The scene’s not quite paparazzi status, but in the middle of winter, on a block half flophouse and half condo, this buzzing group of various onlookers is a testament to Nicki Minaj’s universal appeal.

The 25-year-old rapper is hanging around town after her second appearance on BET’s 106 & Park in a week, the latest, to perform “Shakin’ it for Daddy,” her cheeky strip club anthem with Robin Thicke. Though Thicke is presently the bigger star, and it is his song, the crowd (mostly young girls by the sound of it) was clearly there for Minaj, shrieking wildly when she appeared and chanting along rapt during her Thicke-hyping call and response. Immediately after the show aired, the eye-popping, red lace bodycon minidress she wore was a trending topic on Twitter, but even more people are talking about her performance, which completely eclipsed the charismatic Thicke. She was a bespandexed ball of fire, her accents weaving as they do through feminine New York bark, lilting British brogue, valley girl gangsta and the occasional wild tones that came from who knows where but sound like the dialect of a planet not yet discovered. As Minaj emerged and rapped audacious lyrics like Money in the air it’s a festival/ Cause I ba ba ba ba ball (no testicles), her eyes grew wide and wild as if temporarily possessed. But right now she’s not sweating all of that. She’s just trying to get her photo taken as quickly as possible without freezing to death. She’s also trying to snack on some cereal. “You know when I like cereal? At 2AM, right before you go to sleep,” says Minaj. “It’s not the best tip, I don’t think, if you’re trying to lose weight, but I like it right before bed. And you know what I like when I wake up? Leftovers. Like, real food.”

Nicki Minaj is down to earth in more ways than her eating habits, but as anyone who’s heard her rap can tell you, she is superhuman on the mic. The sheer force of her character, whether rapping or occasionally singing (she’s got a great voice), is one of the main reasons so many people are drawn to her, including the aforementioned legion of young females. Scour MySpace and you’ll find hundreds, if not thousands, of girls whose profile pics mimic Minaj’s signature “Harajuku Barbie” look: stone-washed jeans, black tank, pink bra, pink extensions. She artfully peppers the most voracious of her verses with totally unexpected but extremely girlish punchlines, as on the Young Money sex anthem, “Bedrock,” when she turns I’ll be coming off the top/ Asbestos into one of the most peculiar descriptions of an orgasm in rap history. “I had so many people over the years tell me that I should sound a certain way, and I never thought my personality came out when I rapped that way,” she says. “Anybody that knows me knows that I have a very, very bipolar personality, so one minute I’m excited and the next minute I’m crying and the next minute I’m cussing and yelling and the next minute I’m singing Enya. I’m not kidding. And the point is, my rap style now reflects my true personality. Because I am so weird.”

Weirdness is the great unifier of her fanbase. Straight men are drawn to her ability to stand on Mars with Lil Wayne (her looks are a bonus). Gay men love her theatrical flair and strength. Her young female fans look up to her; the more mature ones are just glad to have a woman of note back near the top. And then there are the women who really like Minaj, allowing her to cultivate the rather rock star-ish habit of signing women’s breasts after shows. “I wish I could fricking remember the first boob that I signed,” she says. “I don’t know why I did it, but now I can’t go anywhere and not do it. People come up to me wherever I am, girls—sexy girls—like, ‘Can you sign my boob?’ I mean, niggas in the club look at me like I’m a pimp. They like, Whaaat? Cause they be fly chicks. I don’t know, but I do know it’s a great thing.”

Minaj’s resistance to convention is part of what makes her one of the most promising new rappers to emerge in recent memory—and certainly the most interesting New York rapper since Cam’ron helmed the Dipset epoch of the early ’00s. With the ubiquitous Lil Wayne as her label head and mentor, and radio heartthrob Drake as one of her closest confidants, Minaj is also in good company at Young Money. Even as the rest of the music industry slowly asphyxiates, her crew is building a legacy in the mold of old Bad Boy or Roc-A-Fella, with Minaj as its warrior princess.

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POSTED March 11, 2010 11:10AM IN FEATURES Comments (38) TAGS: , , , ,

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COMMENTS

  1. breezymrsc says:

    I love Nicki. I love the fact she’s in control of EVERYTHING she does. Women are powerful and, its about time the world & the industry knew it. I love Kim & Foxy but, as the article mentioned being this full on sex symbol 24-7 can sometimes wipe out who you TRULY are. Women love feeling sexy but, not ALL the time. So, I love what Nicki’s doing and, how she’s doing it. And, it’s sad people hate on her instead of actually analyzing what she’s doing and taking something from it. It’s about more than rap.

  2. Gentry says:

    Nice to finally get clarification on “Saxon” being a Rih Rih demo from Nicki herself.

  3. DocDre says:

    great writeup.

  4. nICKIwIFEY says:

    I love Nicki son like she inspires me ,I wanna be a rapper N like she insprires me to do whatever. She can take it to that level where no other female could n thats what ii adore about her she’s such a bad bitch thats why when i reach my dream ima saltue her dead ass she’s a bad bitch. How you buy a nigguh out.? Hands down she pulled a circut breaker on that nigguh.. Like she took over.. shut it down. Nicki the queen of rap..Cuz she just has that quality in her persona.

  5. V says:

    Very colorful article. For anyone who is unaware of Nicki Minaj this is a great breakdown/introduction- You are an amazing writer Julianne

  6. TaMara says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this article. Not only was it in depth but very articulate and analytical in a way that it could be considered a scholarly article and it really hit down on what most people see in Nicki Minaj. I think though when mentioning female rappers, especially in regards to being more sexualized,Trina should be also be included and in regards to other talented female rappers Shawnna should not be forgotten. Otherwise great article and I love Nicki Minaj because she is the “bestest” lol!

  7. Maria McCloy says:

    great piece, can’t wait for the album…

  8. dj lil' elle says:

    great article. love how she’s got a new movement for female MCs moving. she needs to work with Missy STAT!

  9. I think years 2010 would be a good one for this beautiful star

  10. jason says:

    hope i can hear from you soon………

  11. David says:

    call me niki at 12053059980

  12. pablo says:

    Nicki is not original, or even good. She bites off Lil Kim, Foxy, AND missy elliot…n her new music video is complete shit. theres no theme, tone, consistency –nothing.

  13. alex says:

    Hey Pablo…Quit talkin sh*t. Why don’t YOU put out something original since YOU think YOU know what is and what isn’t original. I can’t stand HATERS. The girl is doing her thing and making a name for herself and assholes like YOU come along and attempt to play critic as if you actually KNOW anything. Before you talk about other people’s work.. why don’t you show some of YOUR’S.

  14. Corey says:

    I Know Thats Right Tell His Ass Honey These People Always Have Her Name In There Mouth Just Making Her More Famous As They Keep Sayin Her Name Eevery Body Is Just Hating On U Just Do Yah Think And Keep Your Head High Like U Been Doing Girl
    – No Homo

  15. DaOneRadio says:

    Back to Nikki, love her style but some radio playin stations play her 300 times a day. dayum!!!

  16. Beautiful says:

    Hi! Is it weird that I am 23 and still a virgin?
    I would like to invite you to join my circle of friends on
    _ Black White Cupid c/o-m **—- My username is “looking4sexxx”
    Give me your comments on my photos. I’m waiting 4 u.

  17. Chris K says:

    Hi I have been checking out your website for the past few days and it is pretty good, do you have a RSS feed?

  18. bre says:

    i love nicki . i like the fact that she is a take charge kind of young intellegent women. i hope she keeps doing her thing and writing good music.

  19. Kin says:

    I really ove this write up, but would love it more if you didn’t end by saying that Minaj might “transcend her gender.” I think that’s borderline disrespectful to all women.

    First of all, under current systems of ideology, such is impossible. We can look to transgender people who have to fight tooth and nail to change their gender on their id’s. Second, she will always be marked a “she,” a “female rapper,” until the ideology of rap changes such that women can be included at the table as “rappers.” We’re not there yet. There are many women out there doing just as good of work as Minaj and arguably better, but they probably won’t get air time, not because they’re not as good as Minaj, but because while she asserts that she doesn’t want to be a “sex symbol” she’s engaging in a lot of talk of sexuality in her verses AND she looks the part that is okay to play in hip hop as a female. Not to mention she has the privilege to be connected to a man, one of the most prolific in the game, Wayne, and it’s not because she’s transcending her gender that these things have been possible. To the contrary, it’s because she’s thoroughly embedded within it AND simultaneously taking the conversation some place else as it relates to sexuality in hip hop that she’s doing amazing work.

    In essence, I think Minaj is doing something great in hip hop–something much more complicated than “transcending gender” that’s like saying “Obama is transcending race,” that we’re in a “post-racial” society now. I think those assertions are just as false, and you can check out Tim Wise’s blog for more thorough analysis.

    Minaj is cool and even if I don’t love all of her content, I really hope that more women get a chance to get in the game and change it as well.

    Thanks for this article.

  20. Jewel says:

    Imma marry you Kin

    You know what the deal is, and some.

  21. kin says:

    Thanks for the love Jewel. Someone special in my life carries that same name.

    Check out my blog: nddep.blogspot.com

  22. kin says:

    ndeep.blogspot.com

  23. joson says:

    i love her nickki minaj

  24. Pablo says:

    Good article.
    Like stated above.
    Its a good intro of Nicki to Those Unfamiliar With Her.

    But this:
    “…a new feminine image for men to admire, one based on intelligence and achievement rather than subordination and conformity”

    is bullshit.
    guys like her cuz she has a fat ass and looks good.

  25. JonIndia™ says:

    Nicki’s from Jamaica Queens. Nice Nice.

  26. Pingback: Look Bitch » Nicki Minaj Assumes Control on Fader Magazine

  27. Trell says:

    Nicki Minaj is one sexy lady!

  28. Pingback: Nicki Minaj Sextape Video Rumor Rocks Lil’ Wayne Protegee | afshiba.com

  29. MikeWillis204 says:

    Shorty is gonna be the next lil kim, but maybe bigger given that puff is behind her project where he was just associated with kim. Movies, clothing, I think she’ll have it all. Puff has his hands in everything so he got it right, that movie with russell brand looks hilarious

  30. FireStarta says:

    @Mikewillis I think you’re right abotut get him to the greek, looks like a funny one, but idk about nicki

  31. prick says:

    Ahem…ahem..excuse me *raises up church finger* I thought Fader was supposed to reveal more ‘talented’ and ‘original’ artist. Ms. Minaj hardly qualifies. It would be nice to see you do a cover on Janelle Monae. Her new cd, The Archandroid, is (in the infamous words of Busta Rhymes) FIRE! In fact I think it would be quite smashing!

  32. Pingback: Words. » Blog Archive » NICKI.

  33. Pingback: We are Freak (Rap) « THE HYDRA

  34. munchies says:

    She’s genius.

  35. K,K says:

    “I’m in a six-speed drop and I’m sick with the clutch/ I’m bout to go in on this b—- like a d— in her guts/ Come on Nicki? Is you licking or what?/ How many silicone shots you gonna stick in your butt?”

    She then goes on to say, “It’s Glo/ Murda Mami, strapped up, emergency / I wasn’t gonna do it, but b—- you keep urging me / You better run and use extreme urgency / brain f—ed up, too much plastic surgery … Remember you came out a Lil Kim clone?/ then you started sounding like you got Tourette’s syndrome.” = NOW THATS DOPE =00000

  36. Barbie001 says:

    Check out nickiminajbarbies.com

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