Known for her unabashed sex appeal, lyrical dexterity, and unquestionable domination of the hip-hop charts, Nicki Minaj is also on a personal journey.
Like many other women in the entertainment world, Minaj has had to contend with the prying eyes of the public and rumors about her romantic dealings. Safarees and Meek Mills aside, the "Chun Li" rapper reveals that she has always been someone's girlfriend since the age of 16 up until just recently.
Going from relationship to relationship might sound convenient on the surface, but underneath, not taking that time to examine who you are outside of said relationships will eventually take its toll. Minaj, 35, says that being single has forced her growth more than at any other point in her life of cyclical serial monogamy.
The power she has recently gained by being single showed her that not only could she DO for herself, but she can BE by herself, too.
In her July cover story for ELLE, the femcee said:
"I went through a moment where I got to know myself again, and then I went through a moment where I got to know myself as the rapper again. And then I locked [myself] in the studio and I didn't want to leave. Spiritually, I've experienced more growth in the last six months of my life, of my career, than I have in the last eight years."
"It's the first time in my life I've ever been single."
Despite her confident persona, Minaj admits that there was a period of time where she began second-guessing herself and her decisions. The Pinkprint rapper reveals that something clicked when she finally tapped into the power of her newly found singledom. Learning how to live solely for herself allowed her to recognize her true strength.
"I remember feeling like I could do anything at one time in my life, and somewhere along the line, I just started second guessing myself, for whatever reason. As soon as I realized that I could actually live and breathe, and eat and sleep, and walk and talk without having a boyfriend, something clicked in me. Becoming single was one of the things that made me feel strong and powerful."
In a lot of ways, relationships inherently come with a lot of comfort and security: whether it's financially, emotionally, or simply safety reasons, having a man can have its perks.
Depending on a man for these things, however, can end up being a mistake that may come at the cost of hampering your own growth as an individual. Even someone like Nicki Minaj had to be reminded that not needing a man is the epitome of being in control.
"The fact that I am a young woman who doesn't need a man for money. I don't need a man for a job. I've never had to f*ck for beats. I've never had to f*ck for a record deal. I don't have those pressures. I get up when I want, shop when I want."
While it might be hard to believe, Minaj is also coming to terms with her responsibility as a role model. There is an uncomfortable conversation isn't being had in regards to the modern day world of sex workers. Social media has created a new marketplace—for lack of better words— for certain types of behaviors, and according to Nicki, not only does she feel bad that some of these women don't seem to know their worth, but she also feels she may have contributed to it, as well.
"Maybe I was naïve, but I didn't realize how many girls were modern-day prostitutes. Whether you're a stripper, or whether you're an Instagram girl—these girls are so beautiful and they have so much to offer. But I started finding out that you give them a couple thousand dollars, and you can have sex with them. I was like, Yikes. It's just sad that they don't know their worth. It makes me sad as a woman. And it makes me sad that maybe I've contributed to that in some way."
When asked whether or not she is feeling this burden more now than ever before, she says:
"I've always felt like it. But in a lot of ways, I don't know if I'm doing the same thing they're doing, because I'm selling sex appeal. So I can't look down on these girls. I may not be having sex with people, but I'm still selling sex appeal."
And while selling sex and selling sex appeal are not the same thing, little girls are still looking to her as a role model and someone they want to emulate. There is no denying that Minaj sells sex, but she plans to be more revealing about who she really is on this next album.
The raptress plans to let girls know that it's "okay to keep your legs closed" and that it's better to be a bougie bitch instead.
"But I just don't know if girls who look up to me think that when I'm posting a sexy picture. I'm actually the antithesis of all of that. I'm more of, like, the snobby girl, like the 'Uh, what' type of girl. And I want girls to be like that. I'd rather you be called snobby or a bitch or conceited—I'd rather you be called that than easy, and a ho, and a slut."
Her fourth studio album, Queen, is set to drop on August 10. Will you be checking for a new tone and direction from this project or do you want the same old Nicki?
To read more of the cover story and to check out her exclusive photo shoot with Karl Lagerfeld, head over to ELLE.