With any new Nicki Minaj interview comes plenty of fodder for laughs, and her latest Billboard cover story doesn’t skimp on them: She watches so much Discovery Investigation, Meek Mill thinks she’s plotting to murder him; she and Meek get their relationship advice from Bey and Hov; and Meek is planning a three-ring proposal. But she can also get really real about deeper subjects if you approach her the right way, as Miley Cyrus had to learn the hard way. Nicki spent the summer enlightening her fans on the death of Sandra Bland and got candid about Eric Garner to Rolling Stone last year. Now, in her Billboard interview, she’s weighing in on Election 2016, the end of Obama’s presidency, modern slavery, and why she recited Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.”
On her favorite moment from Obama’s presidency:
I do want to speak about something specific, which just melted my heart. I thought it was so important when he went to prisons and spoke to people who got 20 and 30 and 40 and 50 years for drugs. There are women who are raped, people who are killed and [offenders] don’t even serve 20 years. I was blown away, watching the footage of him speaking to the prisoners. They never felt like anyone in the White House cared about them. I loved that he made them people again. Because we all make mistakes. I think about how many men may have made a mistake to feed their families and then had to pay for it forever.
On the war on drugs:
What it has become is not a war on drugs. It has become slavery. Or something crazier. When I see how many people are in jail, I feel like, “Wait a minute. Our government is aware of these statistics and thinks it’s OK?” The sentences are inhumane. I love the president for trying to be a voice for people who no other person has ever tried to be a voice for.
On Hillary Clinton:
I support her as a woman. Am I convinced that she should be the next president? I still want to be open-minded about everyone. Obviously, I identify with her struggles as a woman. I identify with the fact that when she’s in that room and there are nothing but men there – there’s sometimes something in her that must feel intimidated. But I think that she uses that and turns it into a strength. Because that’s what I’ve always done. And so I love her for sticking it out. She has gone through horrifying things, even within her marriage. She has been brave and weathered the storm. And continued being a boss. That’s something that every woman should feel inspired by, no matter if you’re voting for her or not.
On Sandra Bland:
I did research on the Sandra Bland case. That’s why it hit me so hard. I remember speaking to other women at the time. This could have been me. I’m a sassy woman. I may have given a little bit of attitude to a police officer. I could have never come home.
On Donald Trump:
Laughs.] There are points he has made that may not have been so horrible if his approach wasn’t so childish. But in terms of entertainment – I think he’s hilarious. I wish they could just film him running for president. That’s the ultimate reality show. [The interview was conducted prior to Trump’s December 7 comments about halting immigration by Muslims into the United States.]
On reciting Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise”:
It was the most spot-on poem that Nicki Minaj could have ever read. And it’s funny; it ended up proving a point. Because I remember going online after and lots of people said such beautiful things. But there was one lady, an older black woman, who said, “She shouldn’t be reading that poem.” And she discussed how I dressed. I love that she said that, because she doesn’t even realize the poem is discussing sexiness, owning your sex appeal. “Does my sexiness upset you?/Does it come as a surprise/That I dance like I’ve got diamonds/At the meeting of my thighs?” And this woman, she was discussing her PhDs, all this education she had – but she couldn’t put two and two together about the theme of the poem. My entire career has been that poem in a nutshell.