Let’s be real: All you bitches wanna look like me
Wanna be in demand, get booked like me
Wanna run up in the lab and cook like me
Honestly? As flawless as Nicki Minaj looks on the cover of July’s Elle magazine, we think she’s answered her own lyrical question. The megastar rapper, returning from a four-year hiatus with her new album, Queen (due out Aug. 10), looks positively regal in Versace on the cover, photographed by legendary fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld.
“I wanted to cry,” Minaj said of being shot by Lagerfeld, who is the creative director of famed French fashion house Chanel. “All I do is wear Chanel.” The rapper, who rocked floor-length extensions during the shoot styled by hair maven Kim Kimble, said that she and Lagerfeld bonded during the shoot, which took place in April in Paris and features several photos of the two posing together.
He made himself so available to me. I thought he was going to be a snob, but in fact, he was so personable, looking me in my eyes and asking me, ‘Do you like this? ... I was like, Oh my God, I couldn’t … it felt like a dream.
Minaj, who faced several cries of cultural appropriation with her recent single, “Chun Li,” also demurely dished on Meek Mill and Cardi B and why, on her new album, she has veered away from perpetuating the “trap” sound that has become ubiquitous with hip-hop:
I feel like true icons shift music, uplift music, switch music, have the balls to take a chance. ... The things that people do come so easy to me. I could do it in my sleep. But I’m such a perfectionist that when something is too easy to me, I actually feel guilty. It would’ve been so easy to listen to all the trap music out there right now and say, “Let me just copy this,” but I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself.”
Minaj, who poses on her new album cover wearing only elaborate, Egyptian-inspired jewelry, also talks about her sexually charged persona, telling Elle, “I love being sexy; I’m never gonna stop being an exhibitionist.” But ironically, she also expresses regret about how it may influence her female followers. She refers to strippers and Instagram girls as “modern-day prostitutes” after hearing rumors that some may dabble in sex work:
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. ... 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.
Ever controversial, sometimes contradictory and often a study in contrasts, Minaj is, more than anything, a boss. (We’re reserving judgment on that self-designated “queen” status until we hear her new album; “I really think it’s going to be the best album of the year,” she said.) She expresses as much to Elle, saying that her newfound independence has been the key to tapping into her power as a woman:
Becoming single was one of the things that made me feel strong and powerful. 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 fuck for beats. I’ve never had to fuck for a record deal. I don’t have those pressures. I get up when I want, shop when I want.
The Glow Up tip: Nicki Minaj’s Queen is due out Aug. 10.