Nicki Minaj fiercely covers the 10th anniversary issue of Complex magazine, embellished with vaguely tribal designs and target marks. Shot by Christian Anwander, Nicki rocks some Ralph Lauren, Obesity & Speed, and Patricia Field.
Check out excerpts from the interview and pictures from the photo shoot below:
When you’re constantly exceeding your own expectations, how do you set new goals?
Doing the Super Bowl with Madonna doesn’t really change Nicki Minaj’s personal goals. My goal right now is still to put out Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, sell five million copies eventually, and tour every country in the world. That’s what I’ve been working toward. So while the world is talking about, “Oh my God, I can’t believe Nicki Minaj was at the Super Bowl!” I’m mixing and mastering my music. In my scheme of things it’s way bigger.
You’re on track to hit all your marks in 2012. Grammy solo set? Check. New album and tour? Check, check. Five million in sales? Possibly. What else?
I’m working on my fragrance and my apparel line. They took stuff that I’ve worn, focused on what I like, and then they started doing sketches. They’re pretty amazing. I was like “Oh my God, the kids are going to love this.” It’s not gonna get done overnight, but I know that it’s something they’re going to love.
What’s your off-stage persona?
I’m the biggest homebody. But I’ve been like this. Nothing about me has changed since I got fame. I never liked to go to clubs. I never liked to go out. I don’t know where that public craziness came from. I was always like a comedian to my friends and family, but in a lot of ways I’m shy. I think people read my shyness as being mean. They misinterpret it. The first and only person who ever called me out for being shy was Wayne.
Did he recognize it in you because he could relate to that shyness?
Actually, no. Wayne is the least shy person in the world. He loves to be the center of attention. He eats it for dinner. And that’s why I was so drawn to him. I wanted that confidence. Wayne wants to put on a show for everybody. He enjoys people looking at him.
He would make up raps in front of people. Meanwhile, it took me so long to allow people in the studio because writing was such a personal thing to me. It was revealing everything about myself. How could I let people see that before I fine-tune every word, the delivery, the flow? But with Wayne, he just trusts his first gut.
Like so many women, it sounds like you’re hyper-aware of both your action and the world’s reaction. With all the hundreds of photos you have to take, do you feel more confident with cameras?
I hate cameras. I hate cameras and I hate camera phones. The camera’s my worst enemy and my best friend. It’s the way I convey my emotions to the world without saying a word, so I use it. People always say, “You come alive as soon as the camera’s on!”
Do you rehearse those over-the-top face and body animations?
No, I hate rehearsing. I never rehearse what I’m gonna do in a video. It’s just that I have this love-hate relationship with the camera. I wanna please the camera so bad. The perfectionist in my brain is like, “You have to be on.” I always want to feel like I gave everything my all and never, never, never exhibit laziness.
Calling the shots
In the beginning people thought they knew who I was but they didn’t. They tried to create something. Whenever I’m being me, the people love it. They connect with it. But whenever I find myself in a situation—prime example, during a photo shoot, if a photographer is telling me every little thing to do, I shut down. And you might as well kiss the photo shoot goodbye. I’m an artist in every motherfucking sense of the word. I work well with people who trust my instinct and understand that I am the marketer and promoter of the Nicki Minaj brand. This did not come overnight. This did not happen from a record company. No manager created this.
I always got a kick out of the endless debates over who was managing you. I’ve known you through three sets of managers [Deb Antney, Puffy and James Cruz, and Hip Hop Since 1978] and in every case, it was always clear that…
Little do they know, I manage myself.
Yes. You were always the first and last word.
Right. People assume that I am not the brains behind this operation, and they don’t give me my credit. I could give two fucks about credit. I just want you to leave me the fuck alone. Let me do me. Don’t tell me how to pose; I know how to pose. When I’m recording, I just have to go in and do it, you know? Even my engineer thinks I’m crazy because I’ll hear something different on a track, and he’ll insist, “No, no, nothing was moved.” [But I tell him] “Tony, something was moved.” And later, sure enough, “You were right, there was a two-second delay here.”