Years ago, Lil Wayne noticed a young Nicki Minaj on Dirty Money's "The Come Up" street DVD series, and five years later, Minaj and Weezy have built an empire alongside Birdman, Drake, and the rest of the YMCMB crew. The two have collaborated on a handful of recent tracks—from Minaj's "Only" with Drake and Chris Brown, to the Rich Gang "Tapout" single, and even got pretty steamy in the video for "High School." But at the end of the day, even Wayne—Minaj's mentor in the game—admits, he's in awe of what Minaj has accomplished, and what she plans to do on her forthcoming album, The Pinkprint, which drops next month. 

We spoke to Lil Wayne over e-mail for Minaj's December 2014/January 2015 Complex Cover Story about how much she's grown over the last year or two, what he's looking forward to on The Pinkprint, and his thoughts on the "Anaconda" video.

Interview by Lauren Nostro (@LAURENcynthia)

What are you most excited to see from Nicki on The Pinkprint?
Her going back to her roots. Bar for bar straight lyrical content. Honestly, don’t know what to expect because she can be unpredictable at times when she gets in the studio.

In your eyes, how has she grown as an artist since her last album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, The Re-Up?
She’s grown a lot. The last album was showing her versatility—how she can make a straight hood/club banger and at the same time, still be dominant in the pop industry. Now that she has tested the waters all she’s doing now is going back to where she enjoyed best.

Since you've heard some of the new album, what were you most impressed by, so far?
Honestly, I haven’t heard much. I don’t really go into the studio while she recording. From what I’ve heard I’m impressed on her metaphors. It’s like she’s painting pictures on some of these records.

Describe your reaction to the "Anaconda" video in a few words.
I don’t have a few words. I got a few letters… “OMG.”

What's your favorite Nicki verse of all time?
Damn a verse though?!! Right now I’m gonna have to say the verses from "Lookin Ass Nigga" went in. I say this cause that shit she said was based on some true life stories. Like if you listen to what she’s saying you can actually point out a few people that you feel like she was talking about.

Finally, what makes you most proud of Nicki, as an artist, and someone you've known for years now?
How she has evolved as an artist. She got the right team and people around her. From Laurie, SB, Kidus, Joy, Ei, and more each bringing different talents is instrumental. She has built herself as an artist furthermore as a brand! Her being a female and being able to do a five-year run is unheard of in this sport—baleedat!

Read our Nicki Minaj December 2014/January 2014 Cover Story and check out a behind the scenes video below: