How do you design a star like Nicki? Kate Lloyd lays out the plans to a hip hop great.
Nicki is to 2015 what the Spice Girls were to 1995: the 32-year-old rapper is out to prove that women can do whatever the hell they want. She’s ready to fight for the top spot in a male-dominated industry. In her words: ‘I do not see myself as a female rapper. I see myself as a rapper.’ Expect ferocity, and maybe a Union Jack mini-dress when she brings her Pinkprint tour to town this week.
Minaj can rap. Like, really rap. She’s so good that even Kanye admits she outclassed him with her verse at the end of ‘Monster’ (‘she kicked my ass, on my own song’, he wailed). Yes, sometimes she’s bubblegum-poptastic (we’re looking at you, ‘Super Bass’), but when she does drop a verse, prepare for comedic lines and clever wordplay with manic execution.
If Nicki’s life was a teen movie, Drake would be her nerdy sidekick. Why else was he willing to be the butt of the joke in her ‘Anaconda’ video? These longtime best friends have collaborated on tracks like ‘Moment 4 Life’ and ‘Only’, but Drizzy’s just the top of the pile. Nicki’s worked with everyone from Jessie J to Jessie Ware, Cam’ron to Nas. Fingers crossed for a whole load of guest appearances at The O2.
When Beyoncé ‘woke up in the kitchen saying how the hell did this shit happen’, critics raved about a new era for women expressing sexuality in pop. But Nicki has always been sexually empowered. She’s demanded men ‘get on their knees’ and ‘give brain like they’re NYU’, and once rapped… well, it’s too rude to to say here. Don’t expect The Pinkprint Tour to be rated U.
She might be all attitude on Twitter, but Minaj raps about things like wanting to see her little brother go to college, and opened her Stockholm show with a video about her family. She has dedicated her tour to manager De’Von Pickett, who was fatally stabbed in February – in her words: ‘I can’t let anything stop us from putting on the show because that would be quitting.’
Nicki might have ditched the wigs and neon lippy, but she doesn’t need to go OTT to hold a crowd’s attention. Recent shows have proved Nicki can switch from blinking Barbie to posho Brit to screeching warrior in a matter of verses. In fact, there are so many sides to her, she could be a one-woman girl-band.
Illustration Bryan Mayes