By Hayden Wright
The latest issue of The New York Times‘ T Magazine features a cover story about Nicki Minaj. For the piece, Minaj sat down with Bad Feminist author Roxanne Gay to discuss her career and the challenges of being a woman in hip-hop.
During the conversation, the “Anaconda” MC also broke down what it means to be a “great” rapper.
“Do you sound intelligent?” she said. “Does your flow switch up? Are you in command of the beat? I listen for things like that.”
Nicki cited Foxy Brown, JAY-Z and Lil Wayne as her biggest influences: “Those are the three I keep in my head when I’m writing because they’ve influenced me so much,” she said. “I feel like I’m a part of all of them.”
Nicki credited her “ability to withstand what would break the normal girl” with keeping her at the top of the game. She added that she has needed to prove herself with each new release.
“I had so much going against me in the beginning: being black, being a woman, being a female rapper,” she said. “No matter how many times I get on a track with everyone’s favorite M.C. and hold my own, the culture never seems to want to give me my props as an M.C., as a lyricist, as a writer. I got to prove myself a hundred times, whereas the guys that came in around the same time as I did, they were given the titles so much quicker without anybody second-guessing.”
Minaj says the fight for respect can get tiring, but at the end of the day, it’s worth it.
“I believe in my gift wholeheartedly,” she said. “Sometimes I wake up and say, ‘I don’t know if I can do this anymore,’ you know? I’ve had those times. I’ve had those years where I’m just like, ‘Am I good enough?'”
“I kind of love that I’ve had to go through so many hurdles to get where I am,” she continued. “Because I feel like I deserve it.”