Music

Nicki Minaj Didn’t Just Call Out Miley Today; She Also Made Huge Points About Sexism, Racism And The Media

Here are the best quotes from her new interview with New York Times Mag (that weren't "wut's good?").

Following on from some high-profile controversies with Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus and the MTV Video Music Awards, Nicki Minaj’s latest interview with New York Times Magazine was always going to be noteworthy.

The first (somewhat overblown) dispute had embroiled the hip-hop star in some interesting and knotty discussions about feminism, intersectionality and the music industry more generally; and the latter had all started over Cyrus reportedly calling her “impolite” in the same publication. When Minaj confronted the VMA’s host about all this last month, she suggested her quotes had been manipulated and Minaj gave herself a catchphrase that will now follow her until her dying day.

As a result of this, a large section of the interview which went online today covered this exhaustively. Experienced features writer and contributing editor Vanessa Grigoriadis evocatively set the scene between the three pop icons and described the VMAs as the “Thunderdome” in which they met. Then, eager to comment on the issue after her mic had been cut live on stage, Minaj offered a direct address to Cyrus.

“The fact that you feel upset about me speaking on something that affects black women makes me feel like you have some big balls,” she said. “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? 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.”

As an eloquent and forthright explanation of her problems with Cyrus’ apparent cultural appropriation and discourse with people of colour, Minaj’s words are being widely celebrated. Gawker praised her for getting the final word and labelled her comments “pointed and specific without getting unfairly personal or malicious”. Many others were just excited about her “slamming” or “burning” Cyrus again (unnecessarily aggressive language that Minaj has condemned as racially charged in the past).

But in the back and forth of all this, much of the rest of the interview has been pretty glossed over. It turns out Minaj has great insight on much more than the lives and gossip of Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift.

Here are a few of her thoughts:

On Feminism And Family

Though Minaj claims she was “never political or preachy”, she remembers slowly gaining her voice through broader discussions and pep talks and now has a strong stance she’s not afraid to express to anyone who’ll listen:

“We got so many girls right now having children and don’t even know the first thing to say to a child, but you’re having a child because ‘I want to keep this dude,’ or it just happened. 

“Why are we never in control? Why are we stuck with a baby? Why are we always stuck on the welfare line? Why are we always stuck having to beg, borrow and steal to provide for our children? Why do we think it’s something wrong for waiting to have a baby, waiting until you’re 35 or 36 to have children? Technology has changed — you can wait! Have something to offer them.’”

On Body Image And Race

Speaking about her characteristic confidence and body positivism, Minaj explains she wasn’t always so self-assured. As a kid she felt much more self-conscious and has been intimidated by others for a long time. After marveling at the standards for photo-editing and ruthless social media strategy, she spoke more broadly about the issue while considering the influence of race:

“Back in the day, in hip-hop, the thick girl was glorified. Now the rappers are dating skinny white women. So it’s almost like, ‘Wait a minute, who’s going to tell the thick black girls that they’re sexy and fly, too?’”

On Career And Relationships

In short, no man should ever get in her way:

“Since I was 15, I came out of one relationship and went into another relationship … 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.’’

On Women’s Supposed Love Of “Drama”

The most interesting aspect of the interview in fact came right towards the end. When Grigoriadis asked Minaj about her response to the conflicts between Drake, Meek Mill, Lil Wayne and Birdman — men who’ve all been influential in her life and career in various ways — she wasn’t interested at all.

“They’re grown-ass men,” she said. “It’s between them.”

Then, when inadvisably asked “is there a part of you that thrives on drama”, Minaj called Grigoriadis “disrespectful”. The interviewer tried to apologise, but it was too late. This was clearly something the star had dealt with before:

“What do the four men you just named have to do with me thriving off drama? Why would you even say that? That’s so peculiar. Four grown-ass men are having issues between themselves, and you’re asking me do I thrive off drama?

“That’s the typical thing that women do. What did you putting me down right there do for you? Women blame women for things that have nothing to do with them. I really want to know why…

“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.”

You can read the full interview here or catch up on Nicki’s slightly abridged Twitter recap here:

Feature image via New York Times Magazine.