In a recent Billboard Magazine interview, Nicki Minaj held forth on the perception that she is not intelligent.
“Once I did [American] Idol, a lot of people would come up to me and say, ‘Oh, you’re smarter than I thought,’ " she recalls. "What does that mean? Was I making weird faces [that made you think] I was stupid?"
Minaj figures if people knew how hard she worked they might realize how smart she is, not just sexy.
"People don't know how heavily involved I am in my own career," she says. "I'm on 15 to 25 conference calls every few days strategizing with my team. I think a lot of artists sit back and have it done for them. Sometimes as women in the industry -- if you're sexy or like doing sexy things -- some people subconsciously negate your brain. They think you're stupid."
Minaj takes all those conference calls because she is a serious artist with serious artistic dreams and ambitions. The roots of these dreams go all the way back to her childhood.
"I was just a little kid in Southside Jamaica, Queens, hoping one day I would have my own perfume," she says. "And now I have three."
It’s important to know where you stand in a group of peers. This year has been characterized as lackluster for hip-hop in general. Courtney Love said earlier this year that hip-hop is in the same bloated place creatively that mainstream rock was in the 80s before Nirvana swept in.
“I don’t mean to give you an incendiary quote,” Love told The Guardian, “but there’s gotta be a correction in the market."
Minaj sees herself as the cure for that.
"I'm not mad at where hip-hop's at," she says. "It's in a more playful place. It's corny when rappers feel like they've made it and they don't have to prove themselves anymore. You should always be competing. You should always be trying to show that you're the best. My album is going to be important to hip-hop."
Others are not as kind to Minaj as she is to herself.
Rock staple Slash recently said, “If I was casting [a movie with] Nicki Minaj… she’d be the first girl murdered.”
Aretha Franklin recently spoke to the Wall Street Journal. She was responding to a list of today’s crop of divas that included Adele and Alicia Keys. She reacted to Nicki Minaj’s name with, “Nicki Minaj…..I'm gonna pass on that one!"