Nicki Minaj Covers XXL, Talks Her Impact & Role in Hip-Hop

Nicki Minaj for XXL
via XXL

While fans await a new Nicki Minaj album, the rap superstar reflects on her journey in hip-hop thus far for the 20th anniversary cover of XXL.

In her cover spread, Nicki rocks a dominatrix-inspired outfit consisting of black latex and a plastic-style overcoat, while in the accompanying interview, she talks about her role in hip-hop.

“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,” Nicki explains.

“There wasn’t a big female rap presence right before I got in. So, my role was reintroducing the female rapper to pop culture,” she continued. “I aligned myself with a lot of brands and I was able to show that a female rapper can sell products. Whether it was the makeup, the lipsticks, whether it was the nail polish, headphones or anything like that. It just said, ‘You know what? We were overlooking female rappers for a long time.’ I don’t think we 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.”

Elsewhere, Nicki talks about her major collaborations early on, from Eminem to Kanye West to Jay-Z. “I had so many big names on that first album,” she said. “I don’t think that’s ever been done before on a female rap album. For everybody—humongous artists—to sort of cosign them, and give them that stamp of approval. I remember every time I wrote a verse to ‘Roman’s Revenge’ and sent it to Eminem, he would send a new verse back. It was competitive. It was fun. I think all the big, male artists also treated me with a sense of respect as an MC. They took me serious. If they were on a track with me, they knew they had to come hard. So, I’m really, super proud of bringing that to the game as a female rapper.”

In addition to speaking to her own accomplishments, Nicki praises legendary rappers before her that influenced her career and music — including Lil Wayne, JAY-Z, Foxy Brown, Eminem, Nas, Lauryn Hill, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh, Salt-N-Pepa, The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, Eazy-E, and Ice Cube.

Nicki is currently working on her fourth album, which will follow-up 2014’s The Pinkprint.