While she may be promoting her forthcoming studio album “Pink Friday 2,” Nicki Minaj is on the cover of Vogue in cream — a delicately draped Valentino couture gown, that is.
Minaj has previously been featured on the covers of the Arabian and Japanese editions of Vogue (in 2018 and 2019, respectively), but the December issue of US Vogue marks her stateside debut. It’s a moment that also marks a milestone: after nearly 15 years of dominance in the rap industry, the performer sat down with Vogue to discuss her new album, the pressures of fame and the challenges and joys of raising her 3-year-old son, who she publicly refers to as “Papa Bear.” (Minaj hasn’t otherwise officially revealed her son’s birth name.)
“There’s a freeness that you have around you when you’re at your best, when you’re doing your thing at your peak,” Minaj told the magazine. “But once you start knowing that you’re being judged, there’s no longer that free spirit. People who excel at something make it look easy, but they also deal with a lot of fear of letting people down and letting themselves down. Once you make it, it’s like anything you say can be used against you.”
(Case in point: Minaj spoke briefly about the controversy that ensued in 2021 following a tweet she shared seemingly skeptical of Covid-19 vaccines’ efficacy. “I’m one of those people who doesn’t go with a crowd,” she said, adding, “I like to make my own assessment.”)
It’s also with this perspective — grown out of long being in the public eye, but still wary of it — that Minaj addressed being seen as an emblem of “body positivity” for other women of color with curves, yet not always feeling so positive herself.
“I just looked at a video that I posted on Instagram when I was 25, and I would f**king pay to look like that right now,” Minaj admitted. “But today I can say that I’m at peace with who I am and how I look.”
The rapper also disclosed that she had recently undergone breast reduction surgery, and told Vogue of her new physique that, “actually I love it.”
“I used to want a bigger butt, and now I look back and realize how silly that was,” she said. “Love your curves, and love your non-curves. There’s nothing wrong with any of it.”
“When you look around and try to keep yourself in a grateful frame of mind… the things that you can be thankful for seem to start adding up,” Minaj explained continued. “That’s the thing that’s changed in me. It’s not that I’ve taken these amazing steps. It’s just about finally being happy with who you are as opposed to where you are.”
For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com