Onika Maraj…aka Nicki Minaj speaks out regarding her debut album with YRB Magazine:
“I was so afraid to put out an album for fear of failure,” she later admits, stretched across a dressing room couch in a yellow Harajuku Lovers tee and flowing sweatpants. “I wanted to put my album out on Valentine’s Day of 2011. And my label was like, are you really crazy?”
“I’m going to talk about my family and a little bit of dysfunction – or I should say, lots of dysfunction. And I’m just going to talk about me and self-searching and why I made the choices [I did],” she says, differentiating between her aliases and Onika Tonya Maraj – her birth name. “Onika is not Nicki is not Roman. People will never be able to figure me out. I can tell you my whole life story from beginning to end, and then tomorrow, I’ll be just a different person.”
Her identity is as shape-shifting as her rainbow collection of wigs, but her history is written in stone. Growing up in Queens, New York, a young Onika attended the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (of which Fame was based), slinging her first rhyme to impress her next-door neighbor, Jennifer. “I started saying it to everybody,” she says with a giggle. “I thought that they were laughing with me, but they were really laughing at me.” “These girls aren’t mad at me. They’re mad at themselves,” she states, shooting down questions on why she never took Kim’s bait. “[It’s] jealousy, insecurity and being broke. When you haven’t capitalized and you see I’m about to capitalize on this thing like it’s never been done before, then you’re mad at yourself.”
Nicki gets the last laugh. Plotting an international Pink Friday tour for 2011, the baddest chick in the building is climbing the charts with her singles “Right Thru Me” and the will.i.am-assisted “Check It Out.” Wayne will rejoin the Young Money fam upon his release from prison. All eyes are on the year’s highest achieving female rapper, whose debut album could position her as one of the year’s most successful musicians.
“I know that Pink Friday is a classic album. I have never been this proud of anything in my life,” she says. “I just think that it’s such a dynamic body of work. I’m no longer afraid to drop it. Now, I know it’s time.”