BY ROB HASKELL / PHOTOGRAPHY BY NORMAN JEAN ROY / STYLED BY MAX ORTEGA
On an evening in late August, just as Donald Trump is getting booked on 13 felony charges at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, a sherbet sunset in the western sky casts Santa Monica Boulevard in a Nicki Minaj–pink blush. But Minaj has no time on this day for politics, nor for the soft summer tints gathering outside the windowless sound booth of a Los Angeles recording studio. She is under pressure to hand over a mastered version of “Last Time I Saw You,” a teaser release from her upcoming fifth studio album, and she is nitpicking.
The verses sounded a bit muffled to her ear, so the team sent the track to a mixer, who brightened up the whole thing. But now it’s ping-y and “radio-ish,” she feels, and she swears she hears an ever-so-slight buzz underneath the beat, though no one else is picking up on it. A scholar of her genre and a rigorous wordsmith, she is also a painstaking listener of her own music; she combs through her recordings, rewrites verses, changes up her tone, adds drums, subtracts them. (There were 27 versions of “Anaconda,” her 2014 hit, before she blessed the single.) She presses her engineers to punch up certain words and ensure that every syllable of her raps is clear and comprehensible. Nicki Minaj wants to be understood. “I’m a bit…particular,” she concedes. “Sometimes things that the best engineer in the world wouldn’t hear, I hear. And you know what? I am always right.”Continue reading Nicki Covers US Vogue: “The Art of Being Nicki Minaj”