Nicki Minaj as been hard at work on the full-length follow-up to 2014’s The Pinkprint, and she’s eager to share her most confident work yet after years of jumping personal and professional hurdles.
In a new interview with Roxane Gay — writer of Bad Feminist, Hunger, and other works — Minaj opened up about her next album and where she’s at with it. She detailed her process, saying that she keeps Jay-Z, Foxy Brown, and Lil Wayne in her head when she’s writing her raps (“I feel like I’m a part of all of them”) and that Kanye West paid her a compliment that bowled her over in a formative way (“‘Every girl I hear rap, I can hear Nicki in her rap.’ I didn’t ask him who, but that was such a great compliment. Because sometimes you think you’re the only one that can hear those types of things.”).
When it came to separating her new work from her old hits, she made it clear that writing and recording the album led to a personal breakthrough.
“I know what the album’s about to sound like,” she told Gay. “I know what this album is gonna mean to my fans. This album is everything in my life coming full circle and me being truly, genuinely happy. It feels almost like a celebration … The Pinkprint 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.”
Minaj has worked insanely hard for all that she has, and she told Gay about why her success means so much to her — and what the obstacles had to do with it. “I had so much going against me in the beginning: being black, being a woman, being a female rapper,” she said. “No matter how many times I get on a track with everyone’s favorite MC and hold my own, the culture never seems to want to give me my props as an MC, 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.”