Nicki Minaj is larger than life.
But the platinum-selling artist, who has endorsement deals with Pepsi and Adidas, a clothing line set to launch in October at Kmart, and 16 million Twitter followers, still desires things the average woman wants.
The longing for normalcy was a “weird epiphany” she experienced during her Australian tour in 2012.
“I was on a world tour, a big feat for a female rapper. For the first time, I allowed myself to feel proud of where music had gotten me, and I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude,” she explains. “You feel the need to pay it forward, which starts with analyzing yourself with a true desire to grow. I was praying every day.”
The Trinidadian beauty, born Onika Tanya Maraj and raised in Queens, New York, relishes in the fame and fortune she’s acquired and largely credits her millions of devotees for her success.
Minaj even has a personal dialect she exchanges with her fans, or “Barbz,” online.
“I’m very aware that millions of people on Twitter have no idea what we’re talking about. That’s because we kind of have our own language,” she says. “I used to think it was just a Queens language or a New York language or an East Coast language, but now it’s a Barb Nation language. I have South African Barbz, Japanese, German, Saudi Arabian. You can be a Barb wherever you live.”
But her hard-to-conceive persona, including alter ego Harajuku Barbie, outlandish wardrobe and over-the-top wigs momentarily subsided when the “Super Bass” rapper became an “American Idol” judge.
“The perception that people had of me completely changed because there are no cue cards, there’s no script, it wasn’t me performing a song,” she says. “It was, ‘Let’s see your real personality.’ My core is a genuine human being who roots for other people. I didn’t want to blow smoke up their asses. I wanted every contestant to leave with something that they could remember.”
While she’s undoubtedly taken the rap game by storm with her first album, “Pink Friday,” and her second, “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded,” the pressure of acting in her first feature film is undeniable.
“I can’t blow this,” she admits.
However, her movie role is something she appreciates because being a lawyer may very well have been her career path if rapping didn’t pan out.
“I just loved the thought of going into a courtroom with mostly men and defending someone,” Minaj says. “Just being able to persuade people with your words. It seems glamorous in a way. Very inspiring and ballsy.”
The “Beez in the Trap” rapper is no stranger to making bold moves, which may include a future away from the music scene and on the big screen.
“I at least want to do three more albums. If I can do that, I’ll feel complete,” she says. “One day, when I start getting a couple of gray hairs, maybe it will all be only acting. I just never know … I’ve kind of become the poster child for doing the things that no one expects.
Her carefree way of life, confidence and sex appeal resonate deeply with men.
Still, she advises her Barbz, “Don’t chase any man. Put your school first. Men love independent women. You don’t have to be a b—h, but there’s nothing wrong with it at times. And: Men are kids at heart. They want to be nourished and pet like a dog.”
But when she puts the focus on herself, Minaj is very aware that she’s been blessed and works to stay in the present.
“Some people have this life for a year or five or 10 – and a lot of them lose it,” she says. “I didn’t want to become a person who wasn’t enjoying the moment.”
By Zayda Rivera