A couple of days later, Wayne summoned her to his house for dinner. They sat at an enormous table in an enormous room and made small talk while Nicki picked at her food. She was careful not to be too peppy, she says. “I thought if at the end of the night he doesn’t like any of my verses, I’m going to be very, very pissed off.”
Once their plates had been cleared, Nicki stood up and delivered her first verse. “He loves this, by the way,” Nicki says with a laugh. “He loves torturing people. He loves being the boss.”
So she stood up and delivered her first verse, then the second. “‘Okay I get it, let me think, I guess it’s my turn/Maybe it’s time to put this pussy on your sideburns,’” she sings. “And as soon as I said that he smiled because I was talking to him. Wayne has those infamous sideburns, and I knew that would make him laugh. Then, when I got to the last line ‘And I just be coming off the top— asbestos’ he looked to the side. And then looked to the other side. And he looked up to the ceiling and he smiled because he got it. And he was like ‘Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.’ So I did the third one but he wasn’t impressed, and at the end I was like, ‘So I can record it? I can lay it down?’”
Wayne said yes, and Nicki, elated, booked it to the studio. She likes to record verses dozens and dozens of times before she’s happy with them— “sometimes the tone is just wrong”— and she wanted to make sure she’d have enough tries before Wayne got there. Because once Wayne shows up, it’s his call. If he says it’s done, it’s done. Thankfully, by the time he got there, she’d recorded something she could live with.
“Congratulations,” Wayne said. “You made the single.”
“I like playing dress up...When I do my voices and faces,
I don’t think about anything. My mind stops.”
NICKI MINAJ IS in a bathrobe reapplying her M.A.C Pink Nouveau lipstick. It’s the same color she wears in the “Massive Attack” video and it’s easy to see why she wears it. The color bounces off her complexion and her blindingly white teeth in a way that’s hard to pull off, but looks killer if you can.
We’re at the spa on the second floor of the hotel. She just had a little rubdown, but Nicki doesn’t like spas, and massages kind of stress her out. “I had to tell her three times to stop hurting me,” she says to the mirror. “She was nice though, but my back feels the same.”
Nicki excuses herself to change and reemerges looking refreshed and relaxed. Over margaritas, Nicki grows ponderous. “What is my thing?” she says to no one in particular. James Cruz is here, and so is her publicist. Across the table is Safaree, a tall, very handsome guy who wears many hats in the Nicki Minaj universe. He’s her hypeman, her bestie, her assistant and he was rumored to be her boyfriend. His presence seems to relax her.
She hates shopping. She hates the spa,” says Cruz. And we already know the girl doesn’t like going out.
“She had a Lamborghini arrive on a flatbed for her and she didn’t care,” says Safaree, referring to the white bullet she whipped around in at BET’s Spring Bling in Miami.
What is her thing? It’s a funny question for someone whose thing seems so specific and well defined already. “I like playing dress up,” she says. “When I do my voices and faces, I don’t think about anything. My mind stops.” It’s that feeling she got at her LaGuardia Arts audition. That feeling she gets when she’s with her fans. That feeling she gets when she’s onstage.
She also gets it from singing. “Safaree always says to me the reason I don’t like anything I do is because you don’t like rap,” she says. “I’m like, ‘I love rap.’ And he’s like, ‘When you hear a beat, you sing first.’ It’s the oddest thing.”
The girl guesting on everyone’s singles and bouncing around onstage in bizarre outfits is only a small part of the real Nicki. It’s what got everyone’s attention, but is it just marketing? “There’s a hell of a lot we haven’t seen,” says Ludacris, “but it’s almost like she’s planned it. She’s only given the world but so much of herself and she’s going to strategically give the world as much as she wants to at a time.” Maybe. Or maybe she’s making it up as she goes along, seeing what works and then running with it.
For now, Nicki’s got work to do. It’s almost 8 p.m. and the hotel bar is starting to fill up, which means it’s a good time for her to get out of there. Besides, Christina Aguilera is waiting for a verse, and Nicki knows an opportunity when she sees one. She lingers a little, waiting for her car and her bags. She thinks she might have left her shoes in the room. But when the moment strikes her, she’s out of there. She’s not about to keep a big star waiting.V