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Nicki Minaj Addresses ‘X Factor’ Rumors and Selling Sex

Kevin Mazur, WireImage for Casio

Just hours before Nicki Minaj was set to perform with the Roots at the launch for the Casio Tryx digital camera, inside the Best Buy Theater in New York City on Thursday (April 7), the BoomBox was whisked backstage for a one-on-one with the reigning queen of hip-hop. There was a soft warning of, “No Lil’ Kim questions” (the web is on fire with a snippet of Minaj’s ‘Tragedy’ diss track aimed at Kim), but the ‘Pink Friday’ creator didn’t disappoint when it came to answering what was on the agenda.

Tucked away in the bowels of an elaborate dressing room, Minaj was perched on a red velvet couch, rocking that infamous Bride of Frankenstein afro-wig. This was all adorned with a dramatic leathery-ruffled top and glittery leggings that magically hugged her killer curves. The look was topped off in true Minaj-ian fashion, with a Barbie-fied hot pink Casio Tryx dangling from her dainty wrist.

As captivating in person as she is in photos, the calm ‘Your Love’ hit-maker expounded on surviving the boys club of hip-hop, Lady Gaga comparisons, ‘The X Factor’ judge rumors and why her persona is more quirky than sexy.

Nicki Minaj and the Roots, it’s an unusual but good combination.

Obviously I am a fan of the Roots. They are an iconic staple in hip-hop. Just to be a part of something they’re doing, I am honored to do that. When I heard it, I was like, “This is an interesting match up.” It’s dope! I love their vibe, their aura. Two years ago when I did ‘The Cypher’ on BET, Black Thought was in the cypher with Eminem. I remember feeling like a student in the school of hip-hop. Each and every rhyme they delivered was amazing. I felt like how I felt when I was a little girl on the block, looking at how the boys rapped and how I wanted to duplicate what they were doing.

Tell us about this ride of fame you’ve been on. Is it overwhelming or are you right on your path?

I think I’m right on my path. Is it overwhelming sometimes? Of course. Prime example, I’m on tour and I had to fly into New York at three o’clock this morning. I haven’t really gotten any sleep in the last couple days.

Well, you are looking good!

[Laughs] Thank you! I couldn’t ask for anything more right now. It makes perfect sense; I think I’m actually further then a lot of people thought I would be at this time. I’m just thanking God and enjoying every moment of it.

What do you think of that cover line from Billboard, where they pegged you “The Lady Gaga of Hip Hop?”

I don’t know … to each it’s own. Everyone is going to categorize me in their own way. I’m not here to constantly talk about who I am. It is what it is.

How do you override the boys club of hip-hop?

I think of it more like, “I’m an artist, you’re an artist.” It’s not about if you’re a boy or a girl. You have to bring it. You can’t expect to get a pass for being a girl. You can’t expect to have wack-ass rhymes because you’re a girl and for people to say, “That’s cute because you’re cute.” No, it doesn’t work like that anymore. Once I’m done, I don’t think it’ll work like that ever again. When I get on a record with Drake, Kanye or Jay-Z, people are listening to hear the Nicki Minaj part just as much they are listening to hear their punchlines. It’s all about raising your own bar. Like saying, “I’m not going to be OK with not being as good as the boys.” Whether or not I am as good as the boys in anybody else’s mind, I always feel like I’m competing with the boys.

Lyrically, my show, I want to be up there with the greats. I can’t do that if I don’t go harder than them and bust my ass. Right now, that’s how I look at it. On one hand, it doesn’t matter if I’m a girl or not. The other hand, I just need to work harder because I am a girl. Whether or not there are a lot of girls buzzing around right now, it’s not really for me to pick that apart. A lot of girls will see I’m kicking down some doors for us to be at the forefront of hip-hop. For us to make our own rules right and for us to feel like we don’t have to fit into any certain mold.

What’s the latest with doing a movie?

I’m reading some scripts. Obviously my music is always the first thing on my mind. I went to school for acting so that is also a passion of mine, but it has to be the right role. I don’t want to just jump into something because I want to get a chance to be on the big screen. I want to do something that makes sense for my long-term career. I literally have a script right now in my hotel room. When the right role comes along I think I’ll know it. It’ll scream Nicki Minaj. Right now, I haven’t gotten that script. I also need to grow a little bit and find out what I want to truly say to the world and what role I was born to do. I think it’s going to take some mental growth on my part.

And ‘X Factor’ is not happening?

[Dips into British accent and smiles] Umm, I don’t know.

Are there any critiques or criticisms of you that you’ve ever felt like were unfair?

I don’t even study it that much to know whether it’s unfair or not. The only thing I’ve given thought to is when people say that I’m selling sex. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m quirky, more of a weirdo than the sex symbol. That always baffles me. In a way, I subconsciously go further to the left with my fashion and all my other antics because I want to break out of that. That’s really not how I see myself. But it’s not something I lose sleep over. It’s good, I guess, to be sexy, to embrace your sexual side but that doesn’t define me and I don’t want it to define me. I do so much. I write my own lyrics, I put together my own album, I do all these other things as a boss — just like the dudes do — and I want to be respected as that, as an MC.

When you get to heaven what is the DJ playing?

‘Moment 4 Life’ [laughs]!


Watch Nicki Minaj’s ‘Moment 4 Life’
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