Nicki Minaj throws a dazzling Trinidadian carnival in the new video for “Pound the Alarm,” the latest single from Pink Friday:Roman Reloaded, and her burgeoning fashion empire aims to make everyday looks equally colorful. In the past year, the rapper-singer has collaborated with MAC Viva Glam and OPI nail polish on capsule beauty products that tap her outlandish yet feminine streetwear style, and a batch of new projects await in the near future, including her own fragrance and clothing line. Today also marks the launch of the Adidas Originals 2012 campaign, with Minaj’s track “Masquerade” serving as a theme song. She also appears in the striking promotional spots alongside designer Jeremy Scott and singer Sky Ferreira.
Minaj called from the midst of her Roman Reloaded tour to chat with Rolling Stone about her style projects, her “Pound the Alarm” video and her Olympic pride. She also took the opportunity to escalate her cheeky fashion-mogul rivalry with her mentor, Lil Wayne; Macy’s is scarcely prepared.
What made you want to get involved with Adidas Originals?
Well I am a fan of the Adidas brand and have been for a very long time. I believe they represent what I represent, which is inspiration and fun and working hard as well.
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How does “Masquerade,” the song you wrote, tie into the collection?
“Masquerade,” to me, feels like the Olympics. When Adidas came to me, they mentioned the Olympics. They mentioned maybe having a performance at the Olympics, and I just put my brain into the mindframe of, “What does a champion feel like? What is the inner conversation of a champion?” And I just started by saying “Feel the beat of the drum” and talking about being Number One, all those things that go through your brain sometimes when you’re feeling like you’re at the crossroads between continuing and giving up. The song is about feeling inspired to win and to never give up and I feel like the Adidas campaign, that’s what it’s really about: giving people hope and you know, that’s what I wanted to convey in the song.
Speaking of the Olympics, did you watch the Opening Ceremony? What’d you think?
I didn’t get a chance to see it. I don’t remember where we were; I may have been on the bus. Didn’t get a chance to see it, unfortunately.
Are you interested in the Olympics this year?
Yes, I was up last night watching the women’s gymnastics, which I have always gotten into since I was little. I think I watched that for maybe two hours last night. I watched U.S.A., Russia and China. So I haven’t been able to follow anything up until now but it’s really exciting. To me, it’s never really about the gold or the winnings; I’m just super, super proud of these girls for having so much discipline and for setting a goal and really working towards it. That’s why I watch the Olympics, for a different reason – to me, it’s not about watching for my country or anything like that. I’m watching to support these people who make a decision in life and follow through.
Do you have any top athletic achievements in your own life?
Eh, no. I mean, I played softball when I was little, but that’s the extent. I used to climb trees and stuff back when I was young in Trinidad.
Speaking of Trinidad, I saw the behind-the-scenes video for “Pound the Alarm.” I enjoyed it; it has a lot of vibrant imagery. Does the island’s culture influence your music?
Yeah, it was really great. The scenery was nice, all the people were super warm and I really think that it was the best thing to do for the song “Pound the Alarm” because it kinda just makes everyone feel really free. I didn’t want the video to come across as really contrived and the video comes across as really carefree and just kind of exhilarating. We recreated a Trinidad carnival and we got the masks and all the bands and the confetti and the pink and the fire. We just created a Trinidad carnival and it was a lot of fun.
What’s your favorite part of a Trinidad carnival?
I like to watch the girls dance. That’s always my best part. The girls wear super-duper-cute outfits and they just dance like there’s no tomorrow. That’s usually my favorite part.
You’ve had several style collaborations this year – first MAC Viva Glam, then OPI, now Adidas. Do you have any more fashion projects on the horizon?
Well, I’m putting my fragrance out in September. We’re also working on the clothing line – I’m trying to launch that next year. We have the designs, the designers, all of that stuff. We’re just looking for a place and deciding where we’re gonna go with the brand. We’ve had a couple offers from a lot of big players. I’m really looking forward to it because I feel like my fans are always asking me, “Where’d you get this? Where’d you get that?” and sometimes they can’t afford certain things, so my biggest goal was to make a line that was going to be affordable to my fans and also rich enough in quality that they’ll feel like they’re wearing exactly what I’m wearing. I’m really excited about that.
Can you describe one outfit or give us an idea of what exactly will be in the clothing line?
It’ll be Harajuku Barbie, put it that way. I think it’ll kinda have both those alter egos somewhere in there.
What about the perfume? Let’s talk about that. How’s it going to smell?
I sprayed the perfume for a few of my fans at the meet-and-greet at the tours and they’re like, “It smells like heaven.” [Laughs] They’re like, “It’s so soothing.” It has, like, floral and woodsy undertones. It’s just really, really sweet. It’s really refreshing. I sprayed it for Drake and he was like, “Yeah, I’d like it if my girl smelled like that.” So I’ve been getting a lot of opinions on it. The guys seem to like it and the girls are gonna love it.
Well if Drake likes it, that’s good enough for a lot of girls. Do you have a name for it and know where you’ll be selling it?
[laughs] Yeah! It’ll be in Macy’s. We’ll actually launch there. I don’t want to say the name yet; I’ll probably release that information via Twitter in a couple weeks.
We’ll keep an eye out. Your mentor, Lil Wayne, has his Trukfit clothing line now, which is also expanding to Macy’s. Do you give each other style advice or talk about your fashion lines together?
The other day, me and Wayne were bashing each other. He was telling me that my clothing line better not copy off of his clothing line. And I was like, “Excuse me?” And he was just like bragging about his clothing line is at Macy’s and we were just cracking up laughing. It’s like, I’m so super proud of this man. I feel like there’s nothing he can’t do. Everything he does, he wins at it. His clothing line – my guy friends, you know, are already rocking Trukfit. It’s interesting because things really happen overnight nowadays but, best believe, when my clothing line comes, I’m going to blow him out the park and he’s probably going to be coming asking me for a job. [laughs]
Now we have to put that in Rolling Stone.
[laughs] I got this on tape! The Barbz will be able to see the full, full Nicki Minaj vs. Lil Wayne clothing line clash convo on tape for them to witness. It’s gonna be really, really fun. He’s super-duper supportive and I told him that the next time I go to Macy’s, I’m going to spend like a billion dollars – I don’t care what I have on my credit card or in my pocketbook, I’m gonna buy every last ounce of Trukfit in the store. And he was like, “Yeah, I’m not sending you no Trukfit, I’m not sending it to you for free – you gotta go buy it, you gotta support!” And you know what, Wayne? Fine, I’m gonna support.
I was surprised because I never thought of Wayne having a clothing line but now it makes perfect sense. He’s always had like his own style, and so I know that his line is gonna be super, super successful from the things that I’ve already seen from it. It doesn’t look like anything else out there and I’m really excited for him.
If he’s making you buy Trukfit, he’s going to have to go buy your perfume for his girlfriend. It’s only fair.
He’d better! That’s what I said. He was like, “Why aren’t you wearing Trukfit?” and I was like, “Lil, you’d better wear my clothing line.” He was like, “Isn’t it going to be for girls?” I said it was unisex. He said, “Oh, ok.” So I have him on tape saying he’s going to wear my clothing line as well.
Oh, so you’re designing for men? Or is he just going to make the girly look work for him?
I’m gonna have some stuff. My boys, like the gay boys, are like, “Nicki, please do not exclude us from this clothing line,” so I’m going to make it my business to have stuff that my boys can wear as well. Also, it’s gonna build, you know? We’ll see how it starts but I don’t want to leave my boys out. They’re too precious and they’re always so supportive, so I’m going to do my best to include the boys and the girls on this one.
What is your favorite stage outfit you’ve worn in your career?
You know, for the Grammys I wore the Oscar de la Renta dress and it was the most comfortable dress, the most comfortable stage outfit I’ve ever worn. To me, it’s about being comfortable onstage. If I can be comfortable, then I’m very, very, very happy. More recently, I liked what I wore for the BET Awards, when I was doing “Beez in the Trap” ‘cuz it was sexy and it made me feel really powerful.