Nicki Minaj Has More Words For Miley Cyrus & Kicks NY Times Interviewer To The Curb
On one hand, this new New York Times Magazine profile of Nicki Minaj — written by Vanessa Grigoriadis, a veteran journalist with a long history of profiling female pop stars — is fantastic. Minaj is an engaging character, a woman with strong opinions who rarely holds back, unless she really doesn’t feel it’s worth her time, and so the piece has its share of gems. On the other hand, the interview is also a frustrating one, as Grigoriadis doesn’t seem as interested in her subject as she does the “drama” surrounding her — specifically between pal Drake and fiance Meek Mill, as well as Minaj’s own tiffs with Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus. And it’s that word, “drama,” that eventually frustrates Minaj to the point that she kicks Grigoriadis out of her hotel room, ending their interview.
But first! Let’s pluck one of those aforementioned gems from the wreckage, shall we? In what seems like the biggest missed opportunity, Minaj was asked about her “feud” with Miley Cyrus, which began when Cyrus, also speaking to the Times, criticized Minaj for being “angry” about “Anaconda” not being nominated for Video of the Year at the VMAs. Minaj, as you’ll recall, spoke out post-snub, specifically about how the music industry routinely ignores women of color in order to celebrate thin, white women (like Taylor Swift, who also came for Nicki, got smacked down and later apologized). This all culminated in an all-too-real LIVE confrontation on stage at the VMAs, with Minaj locking eyes with Cyrus and asking her, “Miley, what’s good?” Addressing Cyrus, Minaj explained to Grigoriadis:
‘‘The fact that you feel upset about me speaking on something that affects black women makes me feel like you have some big balls. You’re in videos with black men, and you’re bringing out black women on your stages, but you don’t want to know how black women feel about something that’s so important? Come on, you can’t want the good without the bad. If you want to enjoy our culture and our lifestyle, bond with us, dance with us, have fun with us, twerk with us, rap with us, then you should also want to know what affects us, what is bothering us, what we feel is unfair to us. You shouldn’t not want to know that.’’
So! Here is where Grigoriadis missed a valuable opportunity to talk to Minaj about those issues! Those issues that Miley Cyrus was not interested in, but Minaj clearly is! Those issues that, if you’re a person who is actually interested in Nicki Minaj, you should WANT to know about. And yet Grigoriadis doesn’t pursue the subject further, moving on to discuss Minaj’s fondness for spandex, spending the next six paragraphs assessing her looks and physical presentation. Sigh.
Another missed opportunity comes in the last graf of that section. Grigoriadis writes that Minaj “turns serious again” and then says, “Back in the day, in hip-hop, the thick girl was glorified. Now the rappers are dating skinny white women. So it’s almost like, ‘Wait a minute, who’s going to tell the thick black girls that they’re sexy and fly, too?'” Instead of engaging with her futher on the subject, Grigoriadis again moves on, this time to asking her about how Lady Gaga influenced her look. Minaj is not amused, staring at Grigoriadis in such a way that “my hair curled,” telling her, “I don’t even want to discuss that. That’s so old to me.”
The profile goes on to touch upon some meatier territory, like Minaj’s childhood, her relationship with her dad and her early days in hip-hop. There’s some awkwardness over Minaj’s refusal to confirm or deny certain details of those years, and then Grigoriadis is back to asking about recent headlines – namely, boyfriend/fiance Meek Mill’s embarrassing beef with Minaj’s longtime pal, Drake. Nicki is over it:
‘‘They’re men, grown-ass men,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s between them.’’ How does it make you feel, I ask? ‘‘I hate it,’’ she said. ‘‘It doesn’t make me feel good. You don’t ever want to choose sides between people you love. It’s ridiculous. I just want it to be over.’’
Grigoriadis, unfortunately, is not quite done, and begins to ask, ‘‘Is there a part of you that thrives on drama, or is it no, just pain and unpleasantness—’’ before Nicki cuts her off. The reporter instantly regret going there, spending a paragraph trying to explain to readers what she realllllly meant by drama (HBO series drama! Not, like, “Real Housewives” style drama! She swears!). But it’s too late for Nicki at least:
‘‘That’s disrespectful,’’ Minaj said, drawing herself up in the chair. ‘‘Why would a grown-ass woman thrive off drama?’’
‘‘What do the four men you just named have to do with me thriving off drama?’’ she asked. ‘‘Why would you even say that? That’s so peculiar. Four grown-ass men are having issues between themselves, and you’re asking me do I thrive off drama?’’
She pointed my way, her extended arm all I could see other than the diamonds glinting in her ears. This wasn’t over yet. ‘‘That’s the typical thing that women do. What did you putting me down right there do for you?’’ she asked. ‘‘Women blame women for things that have nothing to do with them. I really want to know why — as a matter of fact, I don’t. Can we move on, do you have anything else to ask?’’ she continued. ‘‘To put down a woman for something that men do, as if they’re children and I’m responsible, has nothing to do with you asking stupid questions, because you know that’s not just a stupid question. That’s a premeditated thing you just did.’’ She called me ‘‘rude’’ and ‘‘a troublemaker,’’ said ‘‘Do not speak to me like I’m stupid or beneath you in any way’’ and, at last, declared, ‘‘I don’t care to speak to you anymore.’’
With that, Grigoriadis was sent down to the lobby, and her piece ends with a paragraph-long mea culpa, acknowledging that Minaj was right to be upset. But honestly, my read on the situation is that this final moment was really just the straw that broke the camel’s back; that Minaj realized that “drama” was really all Grigoriadis was interested in, and it shows in what the writer chose to highlight in her questions and her final piece. Minaj may have gotten the last word, but it’s seriously unfortunate that Grigoriadis wasted so many of hers.