Nicki Minaj Covers Billboard Magazine Issue #38, Talks Politics, A New Mixtape & More

December 11, 2015 by Danny M

Interviews, Latest News

Nicki Minaj Covers Billboard Magazine Issue 38, Talks Politics, A New Mixtape & More

The Young Money Barbie graces the front cover of Billboard magazine’s volume 127 issue 38, which is also their special No. 1’s 2015 year in music cover.

For her cover story, Nicki Minaj spoke on what validation means the most to her, if she considers herself a New York rapper, her upcoming sitcom on ABC Family about her childhood, acting, watching Investigation Discovery all day, “Empire”, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump.

Nicki also discussed reciting the Maya Angelou poem “Still I Rise” at an event recently, getting advice from Jay Z and Beyonce about moving to Los Angeles and being in a high-profile celebrity relationship, if her and Meek Mill are engaged, why she will be releasing a new mixtape, and plenty more.

Click here to order the latest issue of Billboard magazine for $14.99 that will be released on December 19th!

What validation means the most to you? No. 1 records? The respect of fellow artists?
The people’s reaction — when I’m on tour, how they scream when a song comes on. Obviously, I always want an album to debut at No. 1. But in terms of songs — for instance, “Super Bass” was so culturally effective. It never went No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, but that song still makes people happy. Six years old to 80 years old, when people hear it, they know it and they love it. And, in terms of rap, stuff like “Did It on ’Em.” Whether or not that song goes to No. 1, I’d still be proud of it. Because when it comes on, I could be in the middle of West Bubba and people still screw their faces up and do the head nod.

You’re a New Yorker, but people don’t think of you as a regional rapper, exactly. Maybe because you signed to [New Orleans-based] Cash Money. Do you consider yourself a New York rapper?
Definitely. The way I focus on metaphors and punchlines — that’s a very New York, Philly, East Coast thing. When I started, we were very battle-driven, so every line mattered. We had to try to destroy your life, and we were ruthless and very smart with wordplay. To make anything with a double meaning, you’ve got to be smart.

Have you heard Missy Elliott’s new record, “WTF”?
Yeah — I think it’s great. I think she’s great.

Are there current artists you’re especially into? Can I ask you about certain artists?
I’d rather not. Because then I may not have heard of them, and I don’t want to be rude. So.

You’ve been working on a sitcom for ABC about your childhood. How’s that going?
I am maybe too involved. Two days ago I was in casting. I’m going back tomorrow. I found one girl who I’m obsessed with who might play me, and someone who could rival her. So I’ve been coaching them both. I do a beat, let them rap. I do little dances with them. It has been magical. I didn’t even know I had it in me, but I love children so much.

Are there models for the show? Have you seen any of the new ones that depict people of color, like Fresh Off the Boat or Master of None?
Well, I narrate this show, like Chris Rock narrates Everybody Hates Chris. It was little differences that made that show stand out. I want to have those nuances. My first day, I said to the casting director: “This will not be a clichéd black show.”

You began your career as an actress. You’re in the upcoming Barbershop sequel. Is acting something you want to do more of in coming years?
Absolutely. I want to do something very serious. Meryl Streep is one of my favorite artists of all time. She blows me away in just about everything she does. I love how she can go from The Devil Wears Prada to The Iron Lady — she’s so incredible in that. My dream would be to have that type of acting career, where I can do both things believably.

Do you watch a lot of TV?
I watch Investigation Discovery all day. All day. Like, I know everything about law and crime-solving. Everybody that comes to my house, they’re like: “Do you not take it off this channel?” Meek thinks that I’m planning on killing him. We live together now, and every time he wakes up, it’s on. Every time he goes to sleep, it’s on.

Do you watch Empire?
I remember seeing the first episode and being like, “Oh, my God. I wasn’t expecting it to be this real and dope.” But I haven’t seen it in a while.

The end of the Obama era is approaching. Are there things about his presidency that have especially impressed you, or disappointed you?
I do want to speak about something specific, which just melted my heart. I thought it was so important when he went to prisons and spoke to people who got 20 and 30 and 40 and 50 years for drugs. There are women who are raped, people who are killed and [offenders] don’t even serve 20 years. I was blown away, watching the footage of him speaking to the prisoners. They never felt like anyone in the White House cared about them. I loved that he made them people again. Because we all make mistakes. I think about how many men may have made a mistake to feed their families and then had to pay for it forever.

Many critics of the United States’ drug enforcement policies have pointed out that they disproportionately target people of color.
What it has become is not a war on drugs. It has become slavery. Or something crazier. When I see how many people are in jail, I feel like, “Wait a minute. Our government is aware of these statistics and thinks it’s OK?” The sentences are inhumane. I love the president for trying to be a voice for people who no other person has ever tried to be a voice for.

What do you think of Hillary Clinton?
I support her as a woman. Am I convinced that she should be the next president? I still want to be open-minded about everyone. Obviously, I identify with her struggles as a woman. I identify with the fact that when she’s in that room and there are nothing but men there — there’s sometimes something in her that must feel intimidated. But I think that she uses that and turns it into a strength. Because that’s what I’ve always done. And so I love her for sticking it out. She has gone through horrifying things, even within her marriage. She has been brave and weathered the storm. And continued being a boss. That’s something that every woman should feel inspired by, no matter if you’re voting for her or not.

You’re from New York, so you also must have an opinion on Donald Trump.
(Laughs.) There are points he has made that may not have been so horrible if his approach wasn’t so childish. But in terms of entertainment — I think he’s hilarious. I wish they could just film him running for president. That’s the ultimate reality show. [The interview was conducted prior to Trump’s Dec. 7 comments about halting immigration by Muslims into the United States.]

The country is going through a period of heightened protest and conversation about racial justice. You’ve been vocal about Black Lives Matter, the Sandra Bland case, Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin.
I did research on the Sandra Bland case. That’s why it hit me so hard. I remember speaking to other women at the time. This could have been me. I’m a sassy woman. I may have given a little bit of attitude to a police officer. I could have never come home.

You recently appeared at “Shining a Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America” and recited the Maya Angelou poem “Still I Rise.” What made you choose it?
It was the most spot-on poem that Nicki Minaj could have ever read. And it’s funny; it ended up proving a point. Because I remember going online after and lots of people said such beautiful things. But there was one lady, an older black woman, who said, “She shouldn’t be reading that poem.” And she discussed how I dressed. I love that she said that, because she doesn’t even realize the poem is discussing sexiness, owning your sex appeal. “Does my sexiness upset you?/Does it come as a surprise/That I dance like I’ve got diamonds/At the meeting of my thighs?” And this woman, she was discussing her PhDs, all this education she had — but she couldn’t put two and two together about the theme of the poem. My entire career has been that poem in a nutshell.

You moved into a new house in Los Angeles just a couple of months ago. What is it like? What’s the Nicki Minaj aesthetic?
I’m not, like, the vintage girl. I like it to look plush. There’s one room where I want everything to be in white leather. And the bedroom, I want a beautiful canopy with lots of drapery all over it. I want to feel like Princess Jasmine.

Do you miss New York?
I love it [in Los Angeles]. I spoke to Beyoncé about it, because she came out here recently too. She said exactly what I used to say when I first moved here. We just feel happier. She was saying that simple things that would normally feel like a task, they don’t [feel that way] out here. She told me it’s not bothersome to get up super early and have to take Blue to school, because it looks so beautiful. I’m a New Yorker, but there are times in New York when you wake up and it’s, like, a dreary day. I know my London fans can identify with this. When I’m in London or Paris, I think the same thing. Part of the beauty is in the grayness — but it’s an acquired taste.

You’re wearing a diamond on your ring finger.
Yeah. Meek gave me that.

Is it an engagement ring?
He and I are not engaged. But he said he would like to give me three rings before we get married. My birthday’s coming up, and he better get the new one, because he got [the first one] for my last birthday. So let’s see what happens.

You’re in a high-profile relationship. That presents some unique challenges. Is this something you and Meek discuss?
Yeah, we speak about it. We actually spoke with Jay Z and Beyoncé about it, too. After our show at [Brooklyn’s] Barclays Center [in October], we had dinner together. They were so giving with advice. I love them so much. It was just a beautiful conversation to have with people we love and we look up to as a couple. They’re so strong.

Is there anything you would care to share from that conversation?
I’d rather keep it private. I know Meek — he understood a couple things that I was explaining to him more when we spoke about it in front of them. We were all laughing so much. It was very late — you know when you get so tired, and it’s just like the giggles portion of the evening?

I don’t know what’s going to happen with he and I. I just know right now we are really, really enjoying each other’s company. So, shout out to everybody in the world that’s just trying to find love or be happy. Everybody should have someone to hold at night. It really, really changes your energy. I find that my energy is very different afterward — if I’m in the bed with him, just hugging him all day. It’s just, like, something about love. You transfer it. It’s infectious.

What is it like dating another rapper? Do you and Meek share works in progress? Will you spit bars at each other?
Meek doesn’t let me hear his music. Right now, he’s about to put out a mixtape, and I haven’t heard it. We laugh about this all the time. Just yesterday I was like, “Oh, am I going to get to come in and hear the secret music or not?” And he was like, “Not yet. It’s not done.” But I respect it because I’m an artist. I’m like that too.

Speaking of mixtapes, you began your career as a mixtape artist. Do you ever want to just release a mixtape and destroy the game?
I’ll definitely drop a mixtape. I have to.

You have to? Why?
Well, I want to touch a couple of beats that I wasn’t on. I could have bodied a lot of the records that came out in the last year. But the main thing is, I have to set an example for female rappers. I’m at the top of that food chain, and it’s important to lead by example. And because I came into the game doing mixtapes, I want to make sure women do not forget the importance of that grind, that walk up to the top. You can’t get there with a song. Because once that song is no longer hot, you’re no longer hot. It’s important that you are bigger than your music. Some fans are going to fuck with me for the rest of my life because they know where I came from. Fans know my struggle. How hungry I was. That I was not settling, I was not giving up. I was on everybody’s beat. I was ruthless.

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