She remains in command of the beat.
October 17, 2017 1:18 PM   Subscribe

Roxane Gay interviewed Nicki Minaj for the NY Times Magazine. "Minaj does not temper her swagger or sexuality. Sometimes, when I am daydreaming, I marvel at the phrases “dick bicycle” and “If you wanna ménage I got a tricycle” from “Side to Side,” which are so damn clever and funny and vulgar but also accurate as hell for a song Grande once described as being “about riding leading to soreness.”
posted by ChuraChura (32 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
What I would have given to be a fly on that wall. Two absolutely badass women.
posted by Grandysaur at 1:32 PM on October 17, 2017 [10 favorites]


I'm only a year older than Nicki Minaj? Oh lord.
posted by Maaik at 1:38 PM on October 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


I don’t know that anyone but her inner circle knows who Nicki Minaj really is.

I think that can probably be said for any celebrity now-a-days.. Highly managed and curated images etc.
posted by k5.user at 1:38 PM on October 17, 2017


NICKI MINAJ AND I HAVE THE SAME BIRTH DATE AND BIRTH YEAR AND I AM VERY EXCITED FOR THIS INTERVIEW.
posted by redsparkler at 2:16 PM on October 17, 2017 [9 favorites]


holy shit she's 35.
posted by rhizome at 3:21 PM on October 17, 2017


"When her eyes are done, Minaj sits on the adjacent couch, arranging her robe to her liking. There is regality in how she sits. That she is wearing a bathrobe is utterly inconsequential. A queen is a queen regardless. A stylist begins presenting her with options for the two events she will attend later that evening — a dinner party and a book launch. She is shown a clingy, see-through dress with a long train, a gorgeously patterned black-and-white leather Balmain gown and a couple of other options. I marvel at the sublime luxury of basically having a human closet."


This is so far removed from my everyday world that I don't even understand the words. What's a "human closet"? What are the basics of having one? How is it that she is sitting on a couch adjacent to her own eyes? Where do you get an inconsequential bathrobe? These are my questions along with a couple of other options.
posted by storybored at 3:30 PM on October 17, 2017 [10 favorites]


I can't tell if you're kidding or not, but... A stylist is basically a 'human closet', in that they deal with your clothes, one would assume that the couch is adjacent to the vanity-type spot where she had her eyes done, and it's inconsequential that she's wearing a bathrobe because she looks regal regardless - something that probably wouldn't describe me in my bathrobe.

Seems like pretty straightforward stuff, especially as far as celebrity profiles go.
posted by sagc at 3:36 PM on October 17, 2017 [36 favorites]


This is so far removed from my everyday world that I don't even understand the words. What's a "human closet"? What are the basics of having one? How is it that she is sitting on a couch adjacent to her own eyes? Where do you get an inconsequential bathrobe? These are my questions along with a couple of other options.

The "human closet" is the assistant who brings clothes to her, rather than Minaj having to come to the closet. The basics are hiring an assistant to manage your wardrobe.

The couch is adjacent to the makeup chair she was sitting in. Not adjacent to her eyes.

The bathrobe is inconsequential to her regality. That is to say, she'd appear regal no matter what she were wearing.
posted by explosion at 4:06 PM on October 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


"Always in control," "never made compromises" are unrealistic PR ideals that bristle against "public image and personas are carefully curated," to say the least. Hagiography is merited from time to time, but it's silly to assert that someone who operates as the figurehead of an entertainment industry regime has never compromised. Artists working with a team of stylists and producers haven't just compromised, wisely, in their careers, they've leaned on others' judgments. This would be a great piece with a little less hagiography and a little more honesty. But I get it, stars need star-worthy treatment to maintain the illusion.

"At this point in her career, Minaj is able to reconcile, somewhat, her struggles." See? That's the real stuff. Struggles read better than the absence of compromise. Even if one can only give an inch.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 5:20 PM on October 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


If the language seems off and weird to anyone else, I saw a similar link here on MetaFilter to an article from GQ and asked similar questions (Why are there price tags for their clothing? Why is this so bombastically praiseworthy?) and it seems like this is a genre of literature in hyper-capitalist hero-worship. I was blessedly ignorant of it until recently somehow. This has evidently been happening for a long time but it's just that now black women are writing the same things about black women. Still just as awful but somewhat novel in that regard.
posted by koavf at 5:27 PM on October 17, 2017 [7 favorites]


Don't worry bout me, and who I fire, I get what I desire, it's my empire, and yes I call the shots, I am the umpire, I sprinkle holy water upon a vampire

So basically yeah I believe what the lady tells me, why shouldn't I?
posted by bleep at 5:36 PM on October 17, 2017 [6 favorites]


This has evidently been happening for a long time but it's just that now black women are writing the same things about black women. Still just as awful but somewhat novel in that regard.

We still live in a world where the existence of a powerful, wealthy, sexually independent black woman is a rarity in of itself. For one to be celebrated in a major national US publication, for the celebration to be written by a famous, highly-respected author and intellectual, and for that author to be a black woman herself, well, I would say "novel" is an adjective that puts it so lightly as to sound condescending.

Some people might hold the opinion that subversion and empowerment come in multiple forms, and thus enjoy this profile on levels even beyond their admiration of the artists themselves.
posted by schroedinger at 6:52 PM on October 17, 2017 [43 favorites]


figurehead of an entertainment industry regime

I'd be interested in a cite, or at least an explanation.

1) Adding Minaj to anything makes that thing better. This is simply a fact.

2) Just to demonstrate that I'm an old, when I was a kid it seemed like a Big Deal when a member of one band joined another band to produce a song. I much prefer my perception of today that artists seem to make music a fair amount with other artists, without it seeming remarkable or "an event".

(One of my favorite things about the video for "Bang Bang" is Jessie J, maybe slightly taller than average for a woman at 5'9, towers over Arianna Grande and Minaj. If the three were men, the contract would have stipulated that Jessie had to wear flats and the others heels lest we all learn exactly how short Grande and Minaj are, which might, god forbid, make us think of them as "less manly" or whatever. It's nice that no one cares...and why should they?)
posted by maxwelton at 6:57 PM on October 17, 2017 [4 favorites]


"Be the Nicki Minaj lyric you wish to see in the world" is an above-average mantra, at least
posted by Caxton1476 at 7:37 PM on October 17, 2017 [20 favorites]


We still live in a world where the existence of a powerful, wealthy, sexually independent black woman is a rarity in of itself.
Truth. Songs like Beyonce's "Formation" and Cardi B's "Bodak Yellow" have become cultural phenomena because they aggressively celebrate black women who live on their own terms and have grown powerful and successful through their own hard work, not as a man's paid trophy.
posted by nicebookrack at 7:38 PM on October 17, 2017 [13 favorites]


I'd recommend reading other works by Roxane Gay. She has a few books, and "Bad Feminist", a collection of essays, is interesting and smart. I am eager to read her latest, "Hunger". She also writes for the New York Times. And I'm sure other places as well. She teaches at Purdue University. Oh, and she's on twitter and takes NO guff from anyone. She also loves Scrabble! I think she is an excellent writer, but I admit I haven't read this piece yet. Still, it is difficult to think of Gay as a hyper-capitalistic hero worshipper.
posted by bluespark25 at 7:46 PM on October 17, 2017 [6 favorites]


Still, it is difficult to think of Gay as a hyper-capitalistic hero worshipper.

She seems, from having read her work and following her on Twitter, to enjoy pop culture as an amusement and also to get what it means, what it says about society and what its historical contexts are. And she can clearly (to me) separate the amusement from the meaning, and sometimes her "take NO guff" Twitter persona does not suffer fools who want to try to tell her something about a thought she's shared on some pop culture tidbit or another and I'm very, very here for that.

I wouldn't say this particular piece is among her most incisive but it's a fun read and it's one of the rare celebrity profiles where the author inserts themself into the piece a bit and I actually wish I were also there with them (which I have always taken to be the point of that sort of framing, the "don't you wish you were here with me, the writer, and this amazing famous person?" approach).
posted by padraigin at 7:58 PM on October 17, 2017 [6 favorites]


So I'm not big into rap -- I think it's an important and fascinating and innovative art form, but when I get in my car it's usually not what I put on, just personal aesthetic preference, but OMFG I love Nicki Minaj. Like, she shouldn't be in my aesthetic wheelhouse, but Nicki Minaj is so good she's in EVERYONE'S wheelhouse.

I adore it when she both performs pop culture and comments on it in the same song (and especially in her videos!). It's smart and layered and subversive and sly and very funny. (I'm another person who unashamedly loves pop culture, but also recognizes the vast cultural-industrial complex that brings it to me and the cultural milieu in which it exists, so I extra adore pop culture commenting on itself.) And that was most of what I was familiar with from her work for a long time.

But then when she was doing media for PinkPrint, which is a much more personal album and has a lot more wistfulness and sadness and vulnerability, I saw her do several songs from the album on various late night shows and so on, and HOLY COW, I was bowled over, I actually cried, it even MORE amazing.

Anyway she is amazing and I love her. (And also her facility with accents is a little uncanny, especially when she deploy it at high speed.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:31 PM on October 17, 2017 [8 favorites]


Minor detour here, but in the wake of this, and the the Black Panther trailer, and just...the moment...

About 20 years ago, a couple of years into working at my upper-midwestern, semi-urban city's EAST SIDE school (god how I miss it), I went to the talent show to maybe catch an act or two by the kids I knew.

And HOLY MOTHER OF GOD did I step a toe into the parallel universe.

The black kids. I had never seen them before. I worked with them every day. But I'd never seen them like this.

The creativity. The deep intelligence. The humor! The straight-up excellence that showed and shamed white mediocrity. The wholly self-owned presence of their individuality that was congruent with an entire history. The disciplined exuberance.

The beauty and force of their example was a lesson I have barely begun to absorb, years later. They were not speaking to me. I am not woke because of their voices, their movement. Still, I think - I hope - I saw a little into how much I had already missed, how much I would always overlook, be deaf to the sounds of.

Nicki Minaj may not be the paragon of this, and I am in no way qualified to speak to that. But her strength and her ownership, even and especially in relation to her persona's reputation, to the pressures of fame!

EAST HIGH kids, at play, moving their minds and bodies.
posted by Caxton1476 at 8:52 PM on October 17, 2017 [4 favorites]


This was a fantastic interview, so happy it was by Roxane Gay and not Taffy Brodesser-Akner!
posted by ellieBOA at 3:28 AM on October 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


I was listening to Bodak Yellow, Anaconda and Formation and reading Lucille Clifton this morning because I needed inspiration. I'm starting my own business and it feels overwhelming and impossible. But "I dream it, I work hard, I grind til I own it." And won't you celebrate with me?

won't you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my one hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

I'm a big fan of Roxane Gay too so this article made my day.
posted by shoesietart at 3:30 AM on October 18, 2017 [9 favorites]


This is not the NYT Magazine, but "T" -- the NYT fashion magazine, which is editorially distinct.
posted by neroli at 4:36 AM on October 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


I love Roxanne Gay but this feels like a retread of the GQ article except with smarter pop-culture references.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:21 AM on October 18, 2017


This is miles better than the GQ article, below from GQ:

So it’s all for shock, it’s all for talk, it’s all for hashtags and memes. Not even a contrived statement—which is fine, it’s just that most people at least pretend there’s something they’re trying to say. And so I’m left to wonder, where is the woman who pronounced in an MTV documentary that she won’t stand for disrespect, that she won’t accept being given pickle juice at a photo shoot? Where is the philosophy and the fire? And there in the DeKalb, where it is so hot I can see sound, I start to wonder if I’m losing it. I look over to ask Nicki, to suggest that maybe I should take a nap, too, and we can let our unconsciouses figure this out—I could be her hype man, but for naps!—except she is out again.
posted by ellieBOA at 10:13 AM on October 18, 2017 [3 favorites]


Gay posted some outtakes that were cut from the published interview. Nothing earth-shattering, but it's interesting to see what wasn't right for the magazine.
posted by gladly at 2:58 PM on October 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


If one musters the courage to admit that one is woefully ignorant of Nicki Minaj's work, where might one best start to remedy that ignorance?
posted by medusa at 4:03 PM on October 18, 2017


First listen to the Kanye West song "Monster" then I would say just listen to her albums.
I'm not a fan of every song on every album but neither am I for any other act.
posted by bleep at 6:20 PM on October 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


"Monster" music video (NSFW) Nicki's verse starts about 3:37. Kanye, Rick Ross, and Jay-Z also on the track, and Nicki's verse just slays them all.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:28 PM on October 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


Of Nicki's other hits, my faves are Super Bass for the snappy wordplay and Pills N Potions as the perfect song for "You hurt me but I forgive you because I am sooooo much better than you in every way," which is immensely satisfying in its condescension.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:42 PM on October 18, 2017


"If one musters the courage to admit that one is woefully ignorant of Nicki Minaj's work, where might one best start to remedy that ignorance?"

If you're coming from a poppier direction, start with Starships and Super Bass (you've probably heard one or the other!). Keep in mind that super-poppy, fake-innocent, sexy, hot-pink persona she uses in those videos (and enjoy her deconstruction of pop tropes while also performing them!), and go watch the ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS Anaconda (riffing on Baby Got Back).

All Things Go was the first song I heard off Pinkprint that made me cry.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:54 PM on October 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


I love a lot of Nicki Minaj's music, especially Pills and Potions. And I love Roxane Gay, finished reading Hunger last week and have also read An Untamed State. So it is especially frustrating that I cannot get through this piece because Minaj will not drop her brother and let justice be served on him. Or, maybe she will, since the only solid thing we know of so far is that Minaj paid for her brother's 100k bail. Anyway, I'm really sorry that this will likely bum people out as it did to me: Nicki Minaj will be star witness in brother’s child rape trial.

:((((( I feel so sad for the child and her younger brother. Please, Nicki, stop defending him.
posted by one teak forest at 12:38 PM on October 23, 2017




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