This week, Vogue announced Nicki Minaj as the cover star of its December issue. Alongside a photography spread in which the star models pieces by Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen, Ferragamo and more, Minaj, born Onika Tanya Maraj, opened up to the publication about her artistry, life in the public eye, and motherhood.
“I think of ‘Nicki Minaj’ more like the Superman suit — who you change into when you go into the telephone booth,” Minaj told Vogue. “[Onika Maraj and Nicki Minaj] are completely different entities.”
For Minaj, becoming a mother reemphasized those differences. Since giving birth to her son in 2020, whom she fondly calls “Papa Bear,” the rapper says she’s noticed a change in her patience levels. Well known for her clever, dramatized raps, bold fashion, and feisty social commentary, whether calling out media juggernauts like MTV or exchanging heated tweets with fellow rappers like Cardi B, Minaj has always unapologetically shared her opinions. However, her perspective has evolved as she’s gotten older.
“I realized that [Michael] Jordan made the right decision by biting his tongue earlier when he was in the game,” said Minaj, explaining how Jordan’s documentary “The Last Dance” inspired her to do the same. “If I could go back and maybe save some of those things I said for later, like Jordan did, yes. Maybe I would have. Maybe I should have. I don’t know.”
Despite her unapologetic nature, Minaj revealed her dismay at frequently being labeled “mean” for her “aggressive” delivery. Explaining that to her, the term describes the core of who a person is, Minaj does not believe “mean” applies to her true character.
“Once you make it, it’s like anything you say can be used against you. It’s like when you get arrested — that’s literally what being famous feels like,” she explained. “You go from having this fun, curious nature, laughing and joking, to realizing not everyone gets your sense of humor, not everyone likes you. And they will figure out how to put a negative spin on anything you do. It hurts.”
Today, the Trinidad-born immigrant turned rap trailblazer has different priorities.
“I think that deep down inside, I believed that once I had a family, I would just lose the desire to make music,” said Minaj. “I would always tell people, ‘Watch, when I have a child, I’m going to cook every meal for him and bake cookies every day.’”
Though she may not be baking cookies every day, three years after welcoming her son, Minaj is preparing to release her fifth studio album, titled “Pink Friday 2.” Inspired by the early days of her rap career, the album, scheduled to come out in December, is designed to honor the past and present.
“When I look back at a lot of my music, I’m like, Oh, my God, where was the me in it?” she told Vogue. “So, for this album, I went back to the old game plan.”
Read the full cover story at Vogue.com.
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