One of the most annoying and frustrating types of interviews is the celebrity who's seemingly difficult on purpose. In a story for GQ's November issue, under the headline "Nicki Minaj: Cheeky Genius," the interviewer, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, struggles to pull information from Nicki, who seems to be performing some form of mind control.
Minaj's ass-centric "Anaconda" artwork, song and video were all clearly full of shock value and deeper meanings. But Brodesser-Akner, who spoke to Nicki during Fashion Week, ran into a wall trying to get her to break all that down. The article first points out that Nicki, a busy woman, fell asleep four times during the interview, though it was apparently never "actual REM sleep."
When Nicki's talking, she downplays the cultural significance of "Anaconda," saying it's "just a song" and "just a normal video." HAHA. Throughout the piece, it's hard to tell if she's just trolling the interviewer by playing coy or if she really doesn't feel like talking about "Anaconda," or all of those things.
"She"—Nicki's character in the video—"is just talking about two guys that she dated in the past and what they're good at and what they bought her and what they said to her. It's just cheeky, like a funny story." Cheeky. She has to be messing with me.
But Nicki shakes her head: "All it says is, 'My anaconda don't.'" Why are we talking about asses? she seems to be saying. Sure, there is a direct, not inferred, reference in her lyrics to "salad tossing"—which, to be clear, is the act of being anally probed by someone else's tongue. But this is a song about reptiles. Don't be such an intellectual!
Nicki may not have intentionally created "Anaconda" with all these complex ideas on race and gender in mind—people can overthink an artist's intentions, and sometimes a video is just artistic expression. But a generous amount of fans and critics pulled deeper meaning from it, so ignoring its significance seems disingenuous, and it's not like Nicki hasn't addressed "Anaconda" in detail before. Here, she said her message is that "it's okay to be curvy and have a couple extra pounds on you."
You can't pretend that there isn't some extreme sexual commentary going on in the video, right? A steamy women's-only jungle mecca, aerobic slithering, drumming on a dancer's ass. There, in the video, Nicki is twerking and crawling across the floor to poor, hapless Drake, sitting in a puddle of his own anticipatory blue balls. She slaps him before he can touch her, and that has to mean something.
"I knew that I wanted a gym theme." Shrug. "And that's that." That's that, guys. That's that.
Nicki doesn't seem pressed to talk about the song or the video at all, so it's unfortunate that most of the piece revolves around it. Like any artist on her level, she'd rather control the conversation and she's not in the mood for an intellectual dissection of "Anaconda." Eventually, she relents somewhat:
"At first I'm being sexual with the banana, and then it's like, 'Ha-ha, no.'" I ask if she's referring to how the Drake scene immediately follows the kitchen scene. "Yeah, that was important for us to show in the kitchen scene, because it's always about the female taking back the power, and if you want to be flirty and funny that's fine, but always keeping the power and the control in everything."
Maybe she had been messing with me all along.
Or maybe she was simply telling me that it is not her job to explain herself. I had been warned before the interview that I shouldn't ask about her ass, that she finds it degrading, and I had chalked up her reticence to that.
So there you have it.
Image via Mark Seliger/GQ.