Nicki Minaj nearly stole the show at the 2012 Grammy Awards when she performed her frenetic Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded track “Roman Holiday.” Rife with religious symbolism, the performance welcomed her alter ego Roman Zolanski to the Grammy stage for the first time. On Monday (February 13), Minaj called into Ryan Seacrest’s radio show to give her take on the red-hot performance.
“Well, [that religious character I walked the carpet with] is a major part of the story and the movie that I’m writing about one of my alter egos; his name is Roman,” she said. “Basically, the religious figure is there because he was called on by Roman’s mom [Martha] to rehabilitate him. I wasn’t going to do the red carpet, so you know I was backstage prepared … my people wanted me to do it. I had this amazing robe made for me by Versace sent from Milan and I said, ‘I have to wear this.’ They were so generous, and I was going to originally wear it in the performance, but then when I got it, it was a little heavy for the performance.
“I had this vision for Roman. I had this vision for him to be sort of exorcised. … People around tell him he’s not good enough because he’s not normal. So his mother is scared and the people around him are afraid. He wanted to show that not only is he amazing, but he’s never going to be exorcised, even when they throw holy water on him, he still rises above.” In fact, when MTV News caught up with Minaj in late 2011, she shared the origins of this particular plotline. “Well, he was there [in Moscow] secretly because [alter ego] Martha wanted him to go there,” she said. “So they put him in this thing with monks and nuns; they were trying to rehabilitate him.”
Minaj told Seacrest that she feels the performance, choreographed by Laurieann Gibson and directed by Hype Williams, was a success. “It’s funny because it was the most comfortable I’ve been in my entire life,” she said. “The Grammys chose ‘Roman Holiday.’ They heard ‘Roman Holiday’ and I could not play them another record after that. I have to stay true to what I’m doing … My fanbase, they understand every single thing. Roman was created two years ago. I’ve been writing the story for a long time and yesterday was his coming-out party. It just was very literal and streamlined if you know who Roman is and if you don’t know the Roman character, you have to digest it.”
While she has no plans to recreate that Grammy performance, she has made it clear several times to MTV News that this April will kick off the era of Roman. In a previous interview with Minaj, she explained that Roman is definitely her favorite alter ego.
“[He’s] bad. That’s why I like Roman,” she said. “I think I started liking Roman more because everybody else starting like Roman, so he became my favorite. People are expecting him to do some real craziness on the next album.”
The over-the-top spectacle was, in part, inspired by her Super Bowl performance with Madonna. “Meeting Madonna changed my life. This performance was it, and this is the first performance I’m proud of in my whole life. Madonna was the first person in history who was able to make me change my wig,” she said of the Queen of Pop’s undeniable influence over her. “When you see her vision, it’s like, ‘Oh, OK. If someone this talented and this rich is still giving it this much [then I should too].’ ”
And, she explained that she cares so much for Madge as an artist that she felt “disappointment” over M.I.A.’s headline-grabbing middle finger salute. “Even though I’m a coo-coo lady too, I would never be able to do it off the strength of Madonna,” she said. “We’re kind of all firecrackers.”