She got a big ego… but with a co-sign from Lil Wayne, wouldn’t you? Nicki Minaj may be a NewBee, but she’s carries herself like a seasoned pro. Don’t let the overt sexuality and cheeky style (pun intended) fool you. Yeah, we’ve seen it before from female hip hop acts (We see you, Kimmy!), but this time it’s for the ladies. No pause necessary.
Honey: You’re definitely one of those artists who had a crazy Internet buzz before being signed. How did you go about getting started in the business and getting that buzz going for yourself?
People pressured me to start a MySpace page. I was anti-Internet, [but] eventually I just said, ‘I’ll do it.’ Fendi saw me and he started covering me on [his DVD series, “The Come Up DVD”]. Lil Wayne saw it and he wanted me to be a part of Young Money Entertainment. I don’t know why I have the Internet buzz. Maybe it has something to do with some of my interviews. We’re trying to take that buzz and gear it towards the music. In a couple of days, my mixtape, Beam Me Up Scotty, is going to be out. That’ll cause the music to catch up with the Internet buzz.
I know some of the promo photos, like the photo you did with the infamous pose from Lil Kim’s debut album, were really popular. Was this a strategy just to shock the world?
I wouldn’t do a pose like that again but I’m happy I did it. If I did it before Kim, then it would just be a raunchy photo. But when you duplicate something that a hip-hop icon has done, it’s saying, ‘I’m here now and I’m going to be somebody.’ We definitely did it to get the attention. I always have something to back it up. I’m not just about a sexy pose. I’m working hard on music and people are going to be shocked when they hear the new album.
So how would you describe your look now?
One of the big pictures we did was Wonder Woman. I do feel like I’m a hip-hop heroine, like I’m straight out of a comic book. We’re going do things that show Nicki Minaj is here to save the day. I can’t really say that I’m only going to run with one look because my whole image is about being every girl. I’m a Harajuku Barbie. I’m a ninja and I’m a boss. They are all so different but they’re still all Nicki Minaj. I just know that we won’t go overtly sexy anymore.
You said there are a lot of female rappers out there. What’s your point of difference?
I’m not a female rapper. I’m just an entertainer. The problem with female rappers is they allow themselves to be boxed in. I’m not allowing the industry to box me in. It’s a big reason why you haven’t seen Nicki Minaj on MTV or BET yet. I’m making my own terms. A lot of record companies are like, ‘Why is she rapping and singing? Is she the bad girl or she the good girl?’ The thing that separates Nicki Minaj from the other girls is that I have to do what I want to do and that’s the only way I feel free. If you ever go to a Nicki Minaj show, you’ll see girls screaming like how they screamed for Cyndi Lauper back in that day. We’re setting trends. This is about a new culture of girls and I’m spearheading that movement. It’s about excitement. It’s about being smart, but being sexy. It’s all those things that girls want do, but sometimes we feel like we have to do one or the other.
How is your working relationship with Young Money considering that you’re such a free-spirited and seemingly headstrong female?
I’ve always had a great relationship with them. I think Wayne knows that I am the type of person who wants to bring something to the table. I want to know what can I do for Lil Wayne. What can I bring to the Young Money movement that’s not being done right now? I’m trying to get out there and make that happen. I think that’s it’s important that females stand up this year. I’m trying to focus on Nicki Minaj, so that I can be an asset rather than a liability.
Are there other females that you look to right now that are also a part of this movement of fearless female entertainers?
Lady Gaga caught my attention. She reminds me of myself. She looks like she doesn’t care what you have to say. Keri Hilson is a part of that movement. As far as people underground like myself, I don’t see anybody.
You just ended the I Am Music tour with Lil Wayne. How was that experience?
It was a learning experience for me. It ignited a fire in me that just made me want to work. I wanted to create music because I saw that as the only thing separating me from these other big artists. It gave crazy motivation like I’ve never had before.
How do you feel about having another female, Shanell aka SNL from “Prom Queen,” on the Young Money roster that’s just as talented as yourself?
I think that it’s dope. It’s not a traditional team, where there’s one girl and all the pressure is on that girl. We are both songwriters. It’s a good look for females in general to show that we can write, we can create, we’re smart, we’re go-getters, we’re stars in our own right.
If you had to put into a few words what you expect out of this year, what would you say?
Riches. Fame. Power. Girl power. Lots of laughing and lots of tutus.
What advice would you give other Honey girl’s?
Stay true to yourself no matter how hard it is. Remember that you’re special, you’re important. Whatever you do it’s OK for you to do it. You don’t need a guy to do it for you. You don’t need someone thinking for you. Definitely stay in college. I’m the biggest supporter of people going to college. It’s all about girl power in 2009. We are taking over the world. I promise.