In a short span of less than two years, Nicki Minaj has had eight Billboard Top 20 hits, sold out concerts, and collaborated with Eminem, Britney Spears, and Madonna — but that's not enough. The eccentric rapper-singer says she wants to turn her success into a full-fledged brand, just like her male counterparts. "I never thought about music as just being the end-all, be-all," she tells Allure. "I always looked at it like a business, something that I could create an empire out of…. I had a little conversation with Jay-Z at the Victoria's Secret fashion show. He said, 'Congratulations on all your success.' And I was like, 'Yeah, I'm coming for you. I'm coming for your spot, Mr. Mogul.'"
Minaj, 29, already has a leg up on Jay-Z — she has a wide-ranging fan base, which includes young children. Case in point: her biggest little fans Sophia Grace Brownlee and her cousin Rosie, who wowed the world with their now-viral video of them performing her hit, "Super Bass." The two have gone on to become regulars on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and have even interviewed celebs on the red carpet at the Grammys for the program. Of her underage fans, Minaj explains, "I think as far as the younger demo is concerned, I play dress-up. I also can put on a very cartoonish voice. So sometimes children may not know what I'm saying, but they like the sound of it, and they think I sound like some weird character."
The wild outfits, cartoon-like hair and makeup, and alter egos have all been a part of Minaj since she was a young girl growing up in Queens, New York. The Trinidad and Tobago native has said she adapted the different personas in order to distract herself from a chaotic household (her father abused drugs and once tried to kill her mother by setting their apartment on fire). Minaj recalls one of her earliest creations, "I had done something I thought was really, really, really cute, and I showed my neighbor. She was like, 'Why'd you do that to your hair?' And I never forget what I said: 'I'm someone new in this hair.'"
As for her crazy outfits, don't expect to see Minaj breaking a sweat in order to squeeze into the figure-hugging getups she has made famous. Though she says she's naturally petite — except for her, ahem, backside — she does struggle to keep the extra pounds off without the help of exercise. "I hate working out," Minaj tells Allure. "I can't stand being on a treadmill. That mentally irks me. When I need to lose a few, I just cut out sugar and starch."
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