Family Affair: "Who's That Girl?"

Jonah Weiner of Slate wants to know: Who is Nicki Minaj?

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Who is the first lady of Young Money? Jonah Weiner of Slate explores. Here's an excerpt:

In several songs, rapper Nicki Minaj describes herself as a proud bisexual—she has a special weakness, we learn, for ample-bottomed girls. In others, she is defiantly straight: insisting that she prefers men, dropping "no homo" disclaimers to drive the point home. In "Brrraaattt," she plays a thug, firing semiautomatic weapons at her rivals. In "Cuchi Shop," she plays a madam in charge of a stable of prostitutes. In interviews, she announces herself as a would-be role model for young girls. She says she's from Queens, N.Y., but in several songs she slips into accents that suggest she's from England or perhaps the San Fernando Valley. On one song, a 2008 mix-tape track called "Autobiography," she seemed to imply that her father had killed her mother—an interpretation that has circulated on message boards, although she has since mentioned her perfectly alive mom in interviews. At the song's start, she identifies herself as Nicki Maraj, pronounced mirage. It's tempting to read into the moniker some acknowledgment that, with this MC, things aren't always what they seem. Except it turns out that Maraj is the surname she was born with. Or is it? Who are we talking about again?

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Sept. 19 2014 8:34 AM