YMCMB president Mack Maine said it best during an appearance on "RapFix Live" when he explained that Nicki Minaj has surpassed "artist" to become a "brand," and for the past couple of years, part of that brand has included the "Barb" look, all dolled up in wild wigs and bright pink lipstick. Recently, though, Minaj has seriously toned down her look and she tells MTV News that it's part of a new chapter.
Fans really got to see Nicki Minaj strip away the makeup and cotton candy hair color when she appeared on the cover of ELLE magazine's April issue flaunting a natural look, and she says the transformation began a few months ago.
"Towards the end of last year I just wanted to have a more natural look, and that's what I was explaining to my team," Nicki revealed during her "MTV First: Nicki Minaj" sit down. "I knew that I was about to start doing covers of magazines and I wanted a more relatable look. I knew that I was about to launch a clothing line and I want women to know that I'm just a regular woman and I'm not some weirded-out character all the time."
After putting in a little more work — or, a little less work, depending on how you look at it — to tone things down, Nicki was pleasantly pleased with the results. "I made that conscious effort to tone it down and to try new things," she continued. "And when I started seeing what my hair looked like, I just fell in love. I was just like, 'oh my gosh where has this been all my life?' Because even my fans went crazy, I feel like the whole world went crazy. It felt like I took off this mask — it didn't feel like that to me — but to the world it's almost like, 'oh now we see the real her.' It was weird."
The "real" Nicki Minaj that fans saw in ELLE magazine and on recent episodes of "American Idol" simply stripped away the neon colors, and that made a world of difference. "I think people were under the assumption that I was wearing a lot of makeup because I was wearing pink blush and pink lips," she explained. "In the ELLE shoot we definitely did hardly any makeup, but when people see me on 'Idol' now for instance, I'm not wearing less makeup, I'm just wearing nude colors."
Are you feeling Nicki Minaj's new toned-down look?