“Discovered by Lil Wayne on a street DVD, Nicki Minaj enjoyed an early buzz that, while strong, hinged on a common archetype: a female rapper who wasn’t hard to look at. But after a year in which the 26-year-old Queens native, born Onika Tanya Maraj, contributed sexually explicit and surprisingly self-aware verses for a slew of Young Money bangers (“Bedrock,” “Up All Night,” and “Roger That”) and became the go-to gal for Usher (“Lil Freak”), Robin Thicke (“Shakin’ It 4 Daddy”), Ludacris (“My Chick Bad”), and Mariah Carey (“Up Out My Face”), she transcended hood-ornament status to be one of the hottest rappers in the game, period.”
Full photos from the shoot after the jump.
Click here to read Nicki’s full interview with Complex
Interview by Toshitaka Kondo
Photography by Lauren Dukoff
Styling by Kelly McCabe