Nicki Minaj wants everyone to know that she's a rapper first and eye candy second. The Lil Wayne protégé, known for her enthusiastic expressions when she rhymes, said her vocal tics and scrunched-up faces are meant to convey her lyrical pedigree.
She doesn't care if people think it's not cute.
"I don't want people to think I'm up there trying to be cute," the Queens-born rapper told The Fader magazine in an upcoming cover story. "I'm trying to entertain, and entertaining is more than exuding sex appeal."
The lone femcee in the Young Money crew is featured as a split cover with Yeasayer; the issue hits newsstands nationwide March 2.
Currently, Nicki Minaj is featured in a number of high-profile cameos on tracks by Robin Thicke, Ludacris and Mariah Carey.
She told MTV News earlier this month that working with Carey was unbelievable. "That one, I didn't believe until I was physically in the studio that I was doing something with Mariah," she said. "I didn't even tell anyone I shot a video with Mariah, because I didn't even believe. In the back of my mind, I felt like, 'This video is not gonna come out. There's no way I'm gonna do a video with Mariah Carey before I even put out my album.' Then, when it came out, I think it was the #1 video on YouTube in one day, something crazy like that. She's an icon, I've loved her since I was little, like, 'Vision of Love,' 'Someday.' I was one of those little girls in the mirror singing her songs with my mother."
Like Carey, Nicki Minaj has a devoted following; she calls her fans "Barbies." The following, the faces and her outfits are all part of the upstart's artistic persona, which was stoked during her time as a theater student in high school. She's honed the presentation on mixtapes like Beam Me up Scottie and the recently released We Are Young Money compilation. She said her act is even closer to her real-life personality than ever before.
"Anybody that knows me knows that I have a very, very bipolar personality, so one minute I'm excited and the next minute I'm crying and the next minute I'm cussing and yelling and the next minute I'm singing Enya," she explained to The Fader. "And the point is, my rap style now reflects my true personality."