8 Takeaways From Nicki Minaj's Interview With Joe Budden

Nicki Minaj and Joe Budden sat down for an in-depth interview where they discussed her legacy, her pregnancy, the longevity of women in rap, and more.

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Nicki Minaj and Joe Budden sat down for an in-depth discussion on Wednesday, covering everything from her impact on women rappers, to how Black women are portrayed in the media, her legacy, her pregnancy, and much more.

After the release of Queen in 2018 and the rerelease of her mixtape Beam Me Up Scotty—which included the new track “Seeing Green” with Drake and Lil Wayne—to streaming platforms last year, she went slightly dormant, but came back in full force this year with the arrival of her two Lil Baby-supported songs “Bussin” and “Do We Have a Problem?”

Minaj also talked about expanding her business ventures to include a management company, where she’ll start by managing herself first before picking up other artists. She’s also working on a record company, a movie that sees her taking on a “bigger role” than ever before, and is pursuing projects and deals in makeup, clothes, sneakers, and hair.

Below, we’ve rounded up a few key takeaways from their conversation.

Time Stamp: 2:20

“Social media was just beginning when I started so I was a lot of people’s guinea pig,” she told Budden. “I was one of the first people to be shitted on on the internet, on social media like non-fucking stop. Every day I would go on and there was some new story, made-up story, or bad picture. It wasn’t acceptable to have surgery at all or anything. At that time, I had never had surgery. I had ass shots,” she said, describing how she would go to a “random” person’s house to get them done.

“I was in Atlanta at the time and… I kept on being around [Lil] Wayne and them. At that time Wayne, he talking about big booties. Wayne would have a new chick in the studio every session so it was always a new big booty there. They were his muses.

“But I just was around them all the time and I was like the little sister with Wayne and Mack [Maine]. … All I would hear them talking about is big butts and I didn’t feel complete or good enough—good as those girls because I’m like, ‘Oh my god, this is what you’re supposed to look like in the rap culture,’ and I don’t look like that.”

When Budden asked her if anyone would comment on her body, she said, “I think they said stuff sometimes jokingly. But to a young girl or up-and-coming rapper … when it’s from someone like Lil Wayne it matters. So even if they’re joking they don’t know that the person … is not finding it funny.” She explained that they likely didn’t know she wasn’t confident about her body at the time. “They’re just joking. They didn’t mean any harm. But it wasn’t a joke to me.”

Time Stamps: 7:22, 54:42

Early on in the interview, Budden noted that there’s a women rapper “starter kit” that women conform to at the beginning of their careers. Minaj suggested that women follow it because of “their perception of a female rapper.”

“They think, ‘This is what I have to look like,” she continued. “I remember I would never see any female rapper wearing pink hair. Pink hair became a part of that starter kit. Every female rapper will put on a pink wig at some point, and I remember that was just the Nicki Minaj thing. That’s why when I said, ‘Pink wig thick ass,’ that’s an iconic Nicki Minaj line because that’s what she wears. Now it’s everybody: pink wig, thick ass, right?”

Budden asked if she holds herself accountable for creating the blueprint for the starter kit, to which she responded, “Yes. … I was one of the first people saying, ‘Oh I’m not these people’s parents.’ But now I get it—I look at it from a different perspective now. Superstars inadvertently become role models no matter what. … If they like your music, they’re listening to it over and over and over—it’s programming. And they might try some of those things they hear you talk about.”

Later, she circled back on her comments about her pink hair in relation to how she and other Black women artists are portrayed in the media, and specifically on magazine covers.

“You would think the biggest female rapper of all time who has set so many trends would have been on the cover of American Vogue but she hasn’t. … When Billie Eilish comes out and she sets a trend with her green hair, she’s immediately put on American Vogue. But when a Black female rapper who has been setting the trend for 10 years does it, no one says anything. A big part of the reason why we’re not represented is because—what I think we’re doing now, I think we’re all speaking up for each other. So I think now, we’ve all made it so, ‘No, people have to pay attention to what they’re doing, how they’re treating Black artists and Black people, and there has to be representation.’

“I remember I would do magazine covers and they would always ask me not to wear pink hair. But I would see Katy Perry on a cover with pink hair and I would see Lady Gaga on the cover with pink hair. I came in the game wearing pink hair and Chinese bangs but whenever it was time to be represented on certain covers or in fashion, it was, ‘No, no we need you stripped down. No, no, down, down, down.’ But I’ve been a trendsetter.”

Time Stamp: 16:30

Minaj discussed her legacy with Budden and how she envisions longevity for her in the music industry. “The female rappers before me, I would always say they should have retired as moguls. And I would say, ‘Why isn’t there a female version of Jay-Z, who at that time, even when I was coming in, we could see that he was on mogul status,” she said. “So I was like, ‘I’m gonna be that person, I’m gonna do that. Even what I’ve done, I haven’t done what I want to do, what I need to do, what I will do yet.”

Time Stamp: 23:42

Minaj commented on the release of her 2018 album, Queen, and that, looking back, she thinks she shouldn’t have released the project when she did.

“There was a lot of bullshit going on and I don’t think that it was presented correctly. … And I don’t think mentally, I was in the right place even with what I did afterward. Once that body of work was out, I don’t think I even presented myself correctly in terms of what I was saying and how I was saying it …  I don’t even think I should have put out an album at that time. I don’t think I was ready to put the album out.”

She then explained how the MTV VMAs were coming up around that time and how her labelmate was also gearing up to release music, so she wanted to make sure they both had their own week, and be on time for the VMAs. “That’s stupid. You never base your art around an award show. Your art is your art—all that stuff can wait. Because when the art is great, all that stuff comes. You don’t need to chase it, you don’t need to figure that out. It figures itself out.”

Time Stamp: 29:21

Minaj said she experienced writer’s block during her pregnancy—something she’s shared before. “I came out of writer’s block with ‘Seeing Green,’” she said. “How that happened was I texted Drake one time and I was like, ‘The label wants to put out Beam Me Up Scotty, and I was like, I can’t put out a mixtape and not give them something new.’ I was like, ‘Yo, what’s hot out right now that you think I should jump on?’ And instead of him telling me, he texted me back and said, ‘Jump on this.’

“I listened to the song and I’m so out of it. I was like, ‘Oh, this is out already? Y’all put this out?’ because him and Wayne was already on it. And he was like, ‘No.’ I’m like, ‘Oh my god.’ So I kept on trying to write to it, I couldn’t think of anything. I mean everything I was saying was just so stupid and bad. Nobody knows what type of pressure that was. I sent Drake like six different verses.”

Time Stamp: 30:53

When Budden pointed out that Minaj loves to place herself among the greats—Drake, Lil Wayne, Lil Baby—and noted that she not only released one Lil Baby song but two, she said she has to “have a sparring partner.”

“I need that pressure,” she continued. “I fell in love with who spit the hottest rap. … That’s just how I always been. So I gravitated to Foxy Brown ‘cause I felt she used to spit like a dude. … Even ‘til this day, I think her precision and the way she pronounces everything and her clarity is just unmatched and that’s what I wanted to be like. … I was thinking about Biggie and Jay-Z and these types of people who had the better verse. … That’s always what intrigued me. I think at one point, people tried to bully me out of that mindset so that the bar could be lower for women.”

Time Stamp: 50:54

Back in 2019, Minaj partnered with Fendi on a capsule collection, which came about after she name-dropped the brand on the Queen album cut “Chun-Li,” with the line, “Fendi prints on.” She says her pieces sold out upon their release, which, around the time, prompted her to reach out to Kanye West out of “respect”—and because he had made major headway in the fashion realm.

“All the stuff flew off the shelves. I told Kanye about that. I was like, ‘Hey, look, I’m about to do something and I just wanted to make sure I spoke to you first,’ because I have so much respect for him. He was like, ‘Well if I did something with you, I think my wife…probably wouldn’t love that idea because I should be giving that to my wife instead. If I was doing like a female version of Yeezys or whatever, it probably should go to my wife.’ I understood.”

Time Stamps: 44:15, 1:12:50

Last year, Lil’ Kim said she wanted to face off with Minaj in a Verzuz battle. In February, Minaj touched on the subject, telling Houston’s 97.9 The Box that there are a couple of women she would go up against.

“I do think there might be a female or two that, um, that could…well, they were talking to me about it. And look, if it’s gonna be a fun, like...then you never know. That’s all I’ll say about that,” she said.

Budden revisited the idea of Minaj doing a Verzuz, saying her comment had him “guessing.” He continued, “I already know one of those people would and should be—my guess would be Kim. The other one, I had no idea.” He mused about it being Missy Elliott or Lauryn Hill, and ruled out Foxy Brown.

“I haven’t said anyone’s name,” Minaj replied. “I’m not saying anybody’s name. … I approach those things as a rap fan, not as Nicki Minaj. Just as a rap fan. … It’s just about if somebody can play their joints and have people reminisce and go crazy.”

Elsewhere, Minaj brought up Kim again, in the context of her Vogue comments. “The same way I feel I should have already been on the cover of American Vogue, so should Lil’ Kim, if we being all the way a thousand.”

Nicki Minaj says she and Lil Kim both should have had American Vogue covers already pic.twitter.com/7IzNdZplE0

— Glock Topickz (@Glock_Topickz) March 9, 2022

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