Nicki Minaj, the preeminent woman in hip-hop, has achieved remarkable success in an industry predominantly dominated by men, amassing a staggering $16 million in earnings this year. In an exclusive interview with bestselling author Roxane Gay for T Magazine’s The Greats issue, Minaj delves into her journey to the summit and the distinctive qualities that have set her apart from her peers.
Reflecting on the nascent stages of her career, which encompassed collaborative efforts with fellow rappers and a string of miscellaneous jobs, Minaj vividly recalls her tenure as a waitress as a pivotal source of inspiration and a platform for honing her songwriting skills.
In the midst of taking patrons' orders, Minaj found an unexpected muse in the details of their attire or the nuances of their conversations. She reveals, "A rap might come to me just by what they’re wearing or what they said or did," illustrating her keen observational prowess. Seizing these moments, she would retreat to the kitchen, transcribing her lyrical revelations onto sheets of paper discreetly stored in her apron or behind her counter. The aftermath would leave the kitchen strewn with her handwritten verses, a testament to her relentless dedication to her craft.
Minaj's journey is emblematic of an artist who has navigated the complex landscape of the music industry with resilience and ingenuity. From her early days harmonizing with fellow artists to her unassuming role as a waitress, she transformed seemingly mundane encounters into lyrical gold. This intimate revelation sheds light on the unyielding determination and creativity that propelled Nicki Minaj to the pinnacle of success in a male-dominated realm.
In the realm of vibrant assertiveness, Nicki Minaj once played the role of an assertive guardian, championing justice on the battleground of ink. Disclosing to Taffy Brodesser-Akner at GQ, the hip-hop sensation recounted a memorable incident from her waitressing days when she pursued a couple who absconded with the pen she provided for signing their receipt.
Her pursuit of righteousness, which led her to a parking lot and involved a defiant gesture toward the omnipresent sky, resulted in her dismissal from Red Lobster. When questioned about the significance of the pen that triggered such consequences, Minaj clarified to the inquirer, stating, “No. It was the principle.” In her worldview, a pen transcended its material form; it became a symbol of principle. Thus concludes the saga of Minaj's lessons in justice, with an unexpected focus on the humble utensil.
Nicki Minaj's journey is not merely a melodic odyssey but a testament to resilience and unconventional sources of inspiration. From lyrical musings sparked by restaurant patrons to her bold stand for justice over a pilfered pen, Minaj's narrative weaves a tapestry of individuality and determination.