Nicki Minaj is the cover star of the December issue of Vogue. She’s promoting new music, or rather a return to music after she became a mom. At first, I was like “Minaj is way too problematic to get a Vogue cover,” but as I read through the interview, I understood why Anna Wintour agreed to this. Nicki really talked a lot about almost everything. The only thing she didn’t address is her intimidation campaign against the woman her husband raped when he was a teenager. Nicki married Kenneth Petty in 2019 and gave birth to their son in the fall of 2020. Petty is a felon who has been ordered to serve house arrest a few times during their marriage. And all Vogue would say about the marriage was that Petty is “a high school flame with a checkered past who had grown up a few blocks from her in Queens.” Ah, yes, the checkered past of a convicted rapist. If you can look beyond that, Nicki’s Vogue interview was pretty good. Some highlights:
On Kenneth Petty: “Because I’ve known my husband for so long, there’s an ease we have with each other. We make each other laugh. We’re silly. And we’re always reminiscing about some old story. If it was a guy that I met as Nicki Minaj, I think I’d feel like they liked me because I’m Nicki Minaj, and what if I don’t look like Nicki Minaj every day? And that, combined with pregnancy, would probably have made me crazy.”
She thought motherhood would make her lose interest in music: “I think that deep down inside, I believed that once I had a family, I would just lose the desire to make music. I would always tell people, ‘Watch, when I have a child I’m going to cook every meal for him and bake cookies every day.’ Maybe subconsciously I hoped my focus would just be on being a mother, and I looked forward to that idea. It felt like a relief. But what happens is that you find out you have to work.”
She & Petty fought a lot after she had the baby. “I’m not going to lie, things got testy between us. Because of our history, I think we knew we’d get past it. But there’s no such thing as confidence in parenthood. I kind of wish that someone had told me—although I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to understand it—that there’s a level of anxiety, and you think it’s going to go away, but in fact it gets scarier. So often you think: I don’t know how to do this!”
She thought she would be a famous actress: “I literally told everybody that by the time I turned 19, I would be just as famous as Halle Berry and Jada Pinkett, and no one could tell me any different. So when I went to auditions and didn’t get parts, I was shocked. I would sit by the phone thinking, I know they’re gonna call; everybody’s gonna love me and see how great I am. I didn’t get one callback. But at the same time I was like, Eff this s–t, I need money.”
Body image: “I just looked at a video that I posted on Instagram when I was 25, and I would f–king pay to look like that right now. But today I can say that I’m at peace with who I am and how I look. I have to say this as a Black woman, though. I’ve made certain choices for my son, to not give him sweets and candy and juices, because of illnesses like diabetes that run in our community. I’m not in favor of body positivity if it means unhealthy bodies. That’s bull. It’s not believable, so let’s stop pretending. Recently I had to get a breast reduction, and actually I love it. I used to want a bigger butt, and now I look back and realize how silly that was. So—love your curves, and love your non-curves. There’s nothing wrong with any of it.”
Briefly getting suspended from Twitter for promoting vaccine misinformation: “I’m one of those people who doesn’t go with a crowd. I like to make my own assessment of everything without help from everyone.” While she has spoken out against police abuses of power and in favor of universal health care, she has been reluctant to align herself with a political party. “Every time I talk about politics, people get mad. I’m sorry, but I am not going to be told who I should get on social media and campaign for. There’s a lot we don’t know that’s going on in the government, and I don’t think it changes whether you lean to the left or right.”
She also talks about her father, who was a drug addict, and her own brief problem with a narcotic (she was taking prescription pain medication for cramps). She talked about wanting her fans to stay in school and always wanting to be in control of herself, never getting too drunk or wild. While I knew that she developed the “Nicki Minaj” persona to convince people that she’s a bad bitch, I’m sort of taken aback by the real Nicki/Onika, who is a bundle of insecurities and half-truths about who she really is.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Vogue’s IG.
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