In her first article for New York Time Magazine, writer Vanessa Grigoriadis seemed to push things a little too much for Nicki Minaj‘s liking when profiling her earlier this week – and if there’s one thing she won’t stand for, it’s offensive bullshit. The piece discusses Minaj’s upbringing, influences, relationship with her body, her feminist fight and her ascent through both the worlds of hip-hop and pop music to a throne at the very top. However, the part of the interview gaining the mot traction over the internet since its publication has been Minaj’s call out and walk out.
Marketed as a multi-genre artist from the start of her time with Cash Money, Minaj talks about her beginnings as a rapper. She had been singing on low-level rappers’ tracks before asking one if she could write a rap. From there, she would lock herself in her room for hours on end between studying theatre and working as a waitress. “Eventually my mother would come in to check if I was alive.” Since then, Minaj has gone on to disrupt the spaces dominated by men: not only hip-hop, but the world of big contracts with mobile phone providers and alcoholic beverage companies. Nicki Minaj the brand, is built on the rapper’s strength for being candidly and unapologetically herself.
Speaking on the scene that played out at this year’s VMAs, Nicki Minaj explained her frustration with Miley Cyrus and the wider issue of cultural appropriation and the veritable lack of visibility of women of colour in popular culture: “The fact that you feel upset about me speaking on something that affects black women makes me feel like you have some big balls. You’re in videos with black men, and you’re bringing out black women on your stages, but you don’t want to know how black women feel about something that’s so important? Come on, you can’t want the good without the bad. If you want to enjoy our culture and our lifestyle, bond with us, dance with us, have fun with us, twerk with us, rap with us, then you should also want to know what affects us, what is bothering us, what we feel is unfair to us. You shouldn’t not want to know that.”
Like Miley Cyrus, Grigoriadis felt the sting of Minaj’s anger as their interview was cut short and she found herself out of the hotel room where the interview had been set up and standing in the lobby.
Pulling from radio host, Charlamagne Tha God’s discussion of female rappers (“Historically in hip-hop, female rappers have always had to stand next to a male rapper in order to maintain relevance, or keep their spark”), Grigoriadis spoke the place of women in hip-hop briefly with Minaj. “In my relationships, I’ve been told, ‘You don’t have to work that much.’ But I can’t stop working, because it’s bigger than work to me. It’s having a purpose outside any man.”
However, it was when Grigoriadis asked Minaj about the beef between the men currently in her life that things got tense. Having not been content with a graciously diplomatic response to the topic of the Drake-Meek Mill diss tracks (“It doesn’t make me feel good. You don’t ever want to choose sides between people you love. It’s ridiculous. I just want it to be over.”), the writer pushed things further, asking Minaj if she thrives off drama. As the writer recounts, the room went dead silent before Minaj eventually pointed at her and directly called her out on her unintentionally offensive question.
“Women blame women for things that have nothing to do with them. I really want to know why — as a matter of fact, I don’t. Can we move on, do you have anything else to ask…‘To put down a woman for something that men do, as if they’re children and I’m responsible, has nothing to do with you asking stupid questions, because you know that’s not just a stupid question. That’s a premeditated thing you just did…. Do not speak to me like I’m stupid or beneath you in any way…‘I don’t care to speak to you anymore.”
To her credit, Grigoriadis’ isn’t at a loss for words about what happened. “Even though I had no intention of putting her down as a small-minded or silly woman, she was right to call me out. She had the mike and used it to her advantage, hitting the notes that we want stars like her to address right now, particularly those of misogyny and standing up for yourself, even if it involves standing up for yourself against another woman.” Perhaps this paints the best picture of Minaj, as Grigoriadis concludes that in that moment, Minaj was the “boss bitch” she’s always made herself out to be.
You can read the entire profile, The Passion of Nicki Minaj, here.