By Hayden Wright
Nicki Minaj is one of 20 artists covering XXL for the magazine’s 20th-anniversary issue and the rapper sat down for a lengthy interview with the publication.
She discussed her “super unique” role in hip-hop culture, and took credit for “reintroducing the female rapper to pop culture.” Female rappers have always helped innovate the genre, she says, but her combination of music and commercial acumen helped revitalize hip-hop for women in the game. Besides her talent and catalog, Minaj says she pioneered new business opportunities for female rappers.
“My role in hip-hop has been super unique because when my first album came out, there had been so much time where there wasn’t a female rap album out that went platinum,” she said. “There wasn’t a big female rap presence right before I got in. So, my role was really reintroducing the female rapper to pop culture.”
The trick was synergizing her unique sound and image with powerful commercial brands.
“I aligned myself with a lot of brands, and I was able to show that a female rapper was able to sell products,” she said. “I don’t think [female rappers] got that much credit. I think female rappers have always been dope and influential, but I think I sort of came in at a time where big business was paying attention, so I was able to capitalize off of a lot of deals and business ventures.”
One of Minaj’s achievements, she says, is showing companies a new way to present female rappers for maximum commercial appeal—especially when it comes to high fashion.
“It’s no surprise that brands want to align themselves with hip-hop artists because we have reach and we have so much influence,” she said. “Rappers help sales of clothes, rappers influence sales of everything, everything we wear, you know, from the top designers. I know even with Chanel, the actual people who work in Chanel told my stylists that they went there to pull bags for me one time, [they were like] ‘Whatever Nicki posts on her Instagram sells out.'”