Nicki Minaj: After the MTV special, is it really her time?
Pink hair, loud costumes and Queens-tipped swagger with a statement necklace -- chances are you've heard something about Nicki Minaj.
The rapper, hailed by Rolling Stone as the return of the female emcee, received the MTV documentary treatment Sunday with a revealing look inside her hype machine and the tremendous pressure on Minaj to succeed.
Shepherded by Lil Wayne and his Young Money label, Minaj has excellent pedigree, about a million guest appearances on tracks with the likes of Kanye West and Drake, and personal style that's earned her comparisons to Lady Gaga.
But the Ministry isn't here to mince words about her music. Does she have what it takes to become a superstar?
Cranberries and almonds: Minaj isn't short on demands. As revealed by the special, her recording studio must maintain a tropical temperature and be fully stocked with bottled water and a spread of cranberries and almonds. And if you have the nerve to book her for a photo shoot, make sure you've got a clothing budget over $50 and a decent snack tray. "If I settled for the pickle juice ... I'd be drinking pickle juice right now," Minaj said of a particular shoot that offered only flimsy deli snacks. She walked out.
The alter-ego: When Beyonce's Sasha Fierce was born, a new diva milestone was laid. Minaj comes equipped with "Roman," not merely an alter-ego but a male one "born out of rage" that her haters have conjured. And he's no joke. On the track "Roman's Revenge," Minaj and Eminem have lyrical anger fits that show off her skills and, frankly, inspire fear.
But what I really want to do is act: While Minaj is hell-bent on dominating the rap game, and specifically on becoming the first female rap mogul, she maintains that acting is her first love. "I don't want to be a rapper-turned-actress," she says. She's technically correct -- Minaj studied at New York City's LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. But simply laying the foundation that she's an actor first paves the road for cross-over.
Feminist manifesto: Like any good female iconoclast, Minaj is sick of double standards and will be her own woman at all costs. Who exactly might be challenging those ideals is unclear, but that doesn't matter -- with a nebulous enemy, whether it's the male-dominated rap landscape or unrealistic image expectations of women in pop culture, Minaj establishes herself as champion over oppression. The same tactics were deployed years back by Christina Aguilera, whose "Stripped" album was a turning point in her career and a catapult to artistic integrity over her teen pop rivals (caution, Nicki, that doesn't always pan out).
Album sales will be the industry indicator to her staying power, but Nicki's got the magic. We'll keep our eyes on her act.