Nicki Minaj is one of—if not the—most powerful people in music right now. Today, The New York Times Magazine released their annual culture issue, and quite deservedly Minaj has found herself on the cover. This shouldn't be a surprise considering anytime Minaj speaks, the pulse of the culture listens. However the article itself—written by Vanessa Grigoriadis, a writer who in the past has delivered fine work on artists such as Justin Bieber and subjects like the early online media world—is, uh, questionable, to say the least.
Grigoriadis spends most of the article wrestling with Minaj's role in controlling her own image, running into a brick wall when she fishes for biographical details or tries to force a narrative on Nicki that she doesn't want to address. Early on, she asks Minaj about her influence from Lady Gaga, to which Minaj responds "with a look of such intense disapproval my hair curled: 'I don't even want to discuss that. That's so old to me.'" But then Grigoriadis follows up this observation by comparing her to Lady Gaga: "Like Lady Gaga, who starred in plays while attending the Upper East Side’s Convent of the Sacred Heart, Minaj has drama-school chops."
Moreover, much of the language throughout the piece views the ideas of gender and sexuality as foreign ideas, approaching them as alien concepts and frequently using the phrase "buttocks." One assumes that this has more to do with the The New York Times style than Grigoriadis, so it might be time for the folks at the copy desk to make some adjustments for the year 2015.
Anyway, the real kicker comes at the end of the article when Minaj, as promised, dunks on Grigoriadis for the questionable phrasing of her question about the beef between Meek Mill (Minaj's boyfriend) and Drake (Minaj's longtime friend and labelmate). It's the first time Minaj addresses that beef, and the current issues at her label, Cash Money. To Grigoriadis's credit though, she admits she kind of fucked up. Here's the exchange, in full:
‘‘Is there a part of you that thrives on drama, or is it no, just pain and unpleasantness—’’
The room went quiet, but only for an instant.
‘‘That’s disrespectful,’’ Minaj said, drawing herself up in the chair. ‘‘Why would a grown-ass woman thrive off drama?’’
As soon as I said the words, I wished I could dissolve them on my tongue. In pop-culture idiom, ‘‘drama’’ is the province of Real Housewives with nothing better to do than stick their noses where they don’t belong. I was more interested in a different kind of drama — the kind worthy of an HBO series, in which your labelmate is releasing endless dis tracks against your boyfriend and your mentor is suing your label president for a king’s ransom. But the phrase I used was offensive, and even as I tried to apologize, I only made matters worse
‘‘What do the four men you just named have to do with me thriving off drama?’’ she asked. ‘‘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?’’
She pointed my way, her extended arm all I could see other than the diamonds glinting in her ears. This wasn’t over yet. ‘‘That’s the typical thing that women do. What did you putting me down right there do for you?’’ she asked. ‘‘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?’’ she continued. ‘‘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.’’ She called me ‘‘rude’’ and ‘‘a troublemaker,’’ said ‘‘Do not speak to me like I’m stupid or beneath you in any way’’ and, at last, declared, ‘‘I don’t care to speak to you anymore.’’
Written by: Eric Sundermann