Rapper Nicki Minaj, 23, is quite a character. The first lady of Young Money calls herself the Harajuku Barbie. Why? “I’m just a lunatic,” Nicki said. “Sometimes I fly away on my broom and I come up with weird things to call myself.” Still, the debate over the meaning of “Harajuku Barbie” continues online in message boards. It’s also the title of one of Nicki’s popular mixtapes that have made her an underground star.
Despite her quirky style, Nicki has sex appeal that oozes from her tight outfits (a requisite for the first lady of any rap crew). But don’t let her long lashes and bulging bust fool you; Nicki can rap. Quick, clever and unique, she can hold her own. That’s why Lil’ Wayne signed her.
“[Wayne] saw me on a DVD and he loved me. He called up, he wanted to meet me and marry me and take me across the world or something,” she joked. Instead, they made rap songs, and three mixtapes later they’re family. “He was just starting Young Money and he didn’t have a female yet, so he hollered and we made it happen.”
Nicki’s team said there was a battle among labels to sign her after she ripped the stage at last summer’s Wanted Tour featuring Wayne and Young Jeezy. She said she chose Young Money/Universal because Wayne allows her to make her kind of music, which she describes as “playful meets outlandish.”
Of course, there probably weren’t many labels offering a deal as lucrative as the one she has. Nicki holds the rights to her publishing, touring, sponsorship and merchandising. Her debut album should be ready by spring, but her single “I Get Crazy” is already getting radio spins.
Meanwhile this trained actress, singer and dancer plans to live up to her first lady title: “It means that there’s a standard of excellence that’s already been set by Wayne, and we won’t take less than excellent.”
Although Nicki has yet to release a solo single, she’s been getting a lot of feature spots on tracks for different artists like Mariah Carey.
—Sabrina M. Parker