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Nicki Minaj Explains Her Schizophrenic Rap Personas, And Working With Eminem, Kanye, And Jay-Z

The New Now

Nicki Minaj's "Pink Friday" is one of most anticipated debut albums from a hip-hop artist.

This past October, our Chart Watch blog noted that Nicki had seven credits on Nielsen/SoundScan's running tally of the 200 best-selling songs so far in 2010. The list included her solo offering "Your Love" as well as collaborations with Ludacris, Lil Wayne, Trey Songz, Usher, Sean Kingston, and Jay Sean.

Nicki's schizophrenic lyrical style is a huge part of her appeal. The Trinidad-born, Queens New York-bred rapper whose birth name is Onika Tanya Maraj literally changes personalities during the course of a rap verse.

"I do have a few personalities," Nicki admitted when she recently visited the Yahoo! Music offices for an interview. "When people started making a big deal out of it, I started making names for these people."


In the video interview, Nicki goes into character, introducing her hip-hop personas: Nicki Minaj, the Barbie-inspired MC, and the animated, Busta Rhymes-styled Roman Zolanski.

"I can't control it, but it's kinda scary, but it's fun," Nicki said.

Roman Zolanki dominates "Pink Friday"'s "Roman Revenge," her duet with Eminem. Though Nicki does not refer to Lil' Kim by name in the diss track, it is widely believed to be about the veteran female rapper who has been attacking Nicki in the press, claiming that the Young Money newcomer has copied her style.

Nicki said she and Eminem recorded the song one verse at a time and relied on technology to complete the project.

"I reached out to Em, of course, because he's a legend," Nicki said. "I sent him the first verse of 'Roman's Revenge' and he sent it back with his verse." She described working with the Slim Shady rapper as a career highlight.

But Nicki added that the best accomplishment of her career thus far is securing a position on the Kanye West "Monster" track with Jay-Z and Rick Ross. She was initially unaware that Jay-Z was going to be on the song.

"I was just psyched to be on a record with Kanye," Nicki said. "I'm thinking, 'Oh my God, I'm on a song with me, Kanye and Rick Ross.'"

An excited Nicki told everyone about the record but was shocked when Kanye said there would be an addition to the song. "One day Kanye calls me and he's like, 'Oh, I'm waiting for Jay-Z to send me his verse.' I'm like, 'What?'' I never thought that would happen," she said.

"Then I heard Jay's verse, and I was just like, 'Oh my God. I'm on a verse with someone I idolize, and the verse is incredible.' I'm a fan of those guys."

The respect is mutual. The guys are all fans of Nicki.

In a recent interview with New York's Hot 97, Kanye said Nicki had the potential to be the be the Number 2 rapper of all time, only second to Eminem.

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