Nicki Minaj is a undisputed cultural force. For the cover story of T, the New York Times' magazine, we were treated to a beautifully written profile of the MC by Roxane Gay. Gay, like us, marvels at Minaj's command of a room or an entourage or a conversation. The confidence to project that command something Nicki has hard to earn over the course of her entire career.
She speaks directly to this, when asked about her instincts. "I believe in my gift wholeheartedly." That has kept her going, when nagging self-doubt creeps into Minaj's mind. "Sometimes I wake up and say, ‘I don’t know if I can do this anymore,’ you know? I’ve had those times. I’ve had those years where I’m just like, ‘Am I good enough?," she says, echoing all of our own fears. There's something comforting in knowing that even Nicki Minaj worries about being good enough, because it makes us feel like our worries are okay, too.
Minaj explains she gets her strength from having worked, as she describes it, "a hundred times" harder. "I kind of love that I’ve had to go through so many hurdles to get where I am because I feel like I deserve it. I had so much going against me in the beginning: being black, being a woman, being a female rapper. No matter how many times I get on a track with everyone’s favorite M.C. and hold my own, the culture never seems to want to give me my props as an M.C., as a lyricist, as a writer. I got to prove myself a hundred times, whereas the guys that came in around the same time as I did, they were given the titles so much quicker without anybody second-guessing."
We could re-read that paragraph over and over. It's the kind of text that you print out and tape to the walls of your desk. Gay writes that "neither [Nicki's] work nor her success are accidental," and it's easy to see why: she commands all in her domain, and that even includes the difficulty of being a woman in a male-dominated industry. She entered the room and slayed, as she does.