There was a time when Nicki Minaj was defined as much by her image as by her bars — by her many alter-egos, her outlandish costumes and hairstyles, and her tendency to break into a British accent (or, on occasion, into tongues).
But that's all over now.
Wearing a classic black number courtesy of Alexander McQueen on Monday, the Cash Money MC told MTV News that she's getting back to her roots — both literally and figuratively.
"I went so far to the other side that there's only one place to go from there," Minaj told us while promoting "The Other Woman." "You can either continue doing costumes or you can just say, 'Hey guess what? This will shock them even more. Doing nothing will shock them even more.'"
The first sign of her transformation came at the start of 2013. After parting ways with her longtime hairstylist Terrence Davidson — the man behind that leopard-print wig in "Fly" and her candy-colored beehive bun — Nicki covered Elle in a more natural look — her face nearly bare of makeup and her natural hair color peeking through the platinum blonde.
Fast-forward one year, and she showed up to the MTV Movie Awards in another black McQueen dress — undoubtedly a deliberate departure from this.
It's all an effort, Nicki says, of "coming full circle," and the transformation isn't just a physical one. Her third studio album, currently titled The Pink Print, finds Nicki returning to her rap roots, as showcased on aggressive lead singles like "Lookin' Ass N---a" and "Chi-Raq." In the two years since "Starships" topped the charts — Hot 97's Peter Rosenberg subsequently called it "wack" — something changed.
"The tracks on [my next album] are back to my hip-hop roots. And I don't think it's something that I'm necessarily trying to do. As soon as I started working on my new album, that's just the songs that I've been writing," she said, adding that not every track on the album is like "Lookin' Ass" and "Chi-Raq."
In fact, she teased that she'll have a track out next week that is "nothing like" them. "I'm just gonna do what my heart tells me to do."
So, does that mean we might hear something along the lines of "Starships" or the equally pop-friendly "Super Bass"?
In her words: "Hell no."