Last night MTV aired the documentary Nicki Minaj: My Time Again centering around her recent VMA performances and new album. I’ve been listening to the Pinkprint non-stop just like what I did with the Beyonce album when it dropped in 2013 so imagine my delight when I heard there would be a TV special (apparently this is part two of a trilogy, YASSS).
There are several occasions of Onika crying, tearing up, and about to cry on television—it is incredibly refreshing to see the tough queen of rap not worried about being seen as vulnerable. Candidly yet without any privacy-compromising details, she discusses the end of her recent long term relationship, abortion, and wanting to be a mother eventually.
The segment shows both personal and professional sides of Onika, presenting her as a hardworking perfectionist who keeps challenging herself while being extremely appreciative of her supporters and coworkers. During her VMA performance rehearsals, she definitely was not afraid to give out constructive criticisms for others or admit her own slights. During a break, she surprises the dancers by showing them the finished Anaconda music video for the first time, and it is obvious from the excited shrills how happily proud everyone is of the end result. Then she rallies everyone back to rehearse once again with enthusiasm.
When she finally has time to visit her childhood friends in Southside Jamaica, Queens to recharge from her hectic schedule, she gives us a tour of where she grew up. She pointed out the streets where she used to see drug dealers and crack vials, and stands in front of the land where her father burned down her family’s house. Nicki pays her regular visit to her favorite local nail salon and draws a crowd of schoolchildren outside. She is touched by their love for her, and hopes that she serves as an example of being able to make it out of this rough neighborhood. After shouting at the screaming crowd that she loves them, she signs a little girl’s piece of lined paper “Be good in school” and tells the kids repeatedly to stay in school from inside her chauffeured car.
In the studio sharing her new album with fellow rappers D bigz and Brinx Billions, they joke around with her giddily, but when Nicki discusses how she doesn’t just want to be a “female rapper,” they support her statement: “She came up with the dudes and surpassed every other dude, and is now able to stand next to the people that she looked up to…She’s one of the best rappers.”
I highly recommend watching the 60-minute special (Link to full video here. Really 41 minutes without commercials) but I also went ahead and typed out some of her own words verbatim below. You’re welcome.
“I wanted to make a sexy record that was fun. I wanted it to be super singalong…It was geared towards being proud of your body. It empowers women. There are lots of thick girls who tell me, ‘Thank you.’”
On her recent low point in life
“…Sometimes when things are difficult, we try not to see them, but I’m learning how to face reality.”
On the emotional aspect of her new album
“I didn’t know when I set out to make this album that it would entail an emotional roller coaster in my own real life…It’s just that I write my life.”
“I didn’t want to make an album that was just being fake-happy: I wanted to deal with it, and leave it, and move on, and be real-happy.”
“Brokenness leads to such beautiful art sometimes, and I think I was really really broken writing this. The brokenness is okay as long as it inspires people.”
“Imma put my album out…for girls that want to have some truth and who see my heart in it. I just want people to see that it’s heartfelt.”
On how the entertainment industry influences people
“No one could prepare for this business, and until you’re in it, you really can’t wrap your brain around it. You feel like this business change people you really love. It’s scary. They start worshipping material things and forgetting about just good old fashioned love and trust…I guess that’s why a lot of the songs are way more introspective. I’m at a place now where I am stepping out of myself and looking at myself more.
“I don’t know if the secret of life is to find love, but I do think one of the secrets of lie is to embody love. ‘Cause I feel like when you truly love others, the universe just gives it back to you…I want to be the best Onika she can be. Forget trying to change everybody else. It’s just like: love, self-search, and let people do them.”
“I’m willing to figure it out now. I’m no longer putting career over whom I love because it’s not worth it…One of the things I am working on is to be able to still enjoy my life even in the moments of a lot of professional stress.”
Where she wants to be in four years
“…To have a child, but I would have to be married first…In terms of music, I would like to have at least five albums done, so that my sixth album I can come back and speak from a mother’s perspective.”
As a fan, I adore the many moments where Nicki simply cannot hide her excitement about her achievements: she dances around the studio and sings to her own songs, compliments her sound engineer, and she trills and laughs and makes all the loud animated sounds that are often showcased in her songs. At one point she raises a half-eaten donut into the air and exclaims in her signature deadpan comedic style: “This donut will make me happy…Heaven-sent.”
As a woman, I love how after all these years of being behind the guarded walls of alternating flamboyant humor and stoic nonchalance, she is coming around to sharing her feelings, proving that being open and empathetic require true strengths.
Lastly, I just want to point out that Nicki MInaj prominently rocks a t-shirt that says “BITCH IS THE NEW BLACK” for a good portion of this TV segment, which reminded me of this classic Tina Fey SNL Weekend Update. Bitches sure get stuff done.