Q&A: Nicki Minaj On New Music And ‘American Idol’

Nicki Minaj, who has had much success on the pop charts with songs like “Starships” and “Super Bass,” says the rerelease of her sophomore album will be nostalgic for her early fans.

Photo: AP Photo
Nokia Lumia 900 smartphone release, Times Square, New York City

“The feel of the rerelease is kind of like my first sound, like the mixtapes,” she said of Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded – The Re-Up, out Tuesday.

The rerelease comes seven months after Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. That album features pop, dance, R&B, reggae and rap sounds. It’s a far stretch from when Minaj kicked off her career as a sexed-up street rapper, signed by Lil Wayne in 2009 after she released three buzzed-about mixtapes. Her official debut, Pink Friday, is near double platinum and was nominated for a Grammy Award.

But the 29-year-old says she’s “back to basics” on her eight-track “Re-Up,” which features Lil Wayne, Tyga and some of Minaj’s proteges.

“It sounds probably more hood in some ways, for a lack of a better word,” she said.

Her pop fans won’t be disappointed, though: There’s also the Dr. Luke-produced, dance-flavored “Va Va Voom.”

In a recent telephone interview, Minaj talked about her new music, artists she is mentoring and working (kind of) with Mariah Carey on “American Idol.”

Photo: AP Photo
Hackney Weekend 2012, Hackney Marshes, London, UK

The Associated Press: What’s the energy like on the rerelease?

I studied a lot of the production side of this particular rerelease. It was just important that the beats sounded a certain way. … I was really able to step up the writing on it as well.

This album features some of your signed artists, Parker and Thomas Brinx. How’s it feel to pay it forward?

It’s exciting because I think that I’m finally in a position to open doors for other people and it’s a great feeling because I feel like they’re so, so talented. Parker, he’s actually from London and he’s a writer, producer, singer … and I’m going to be putting out music with him at the top of the year. … Brinx was someone that I knew for a long time. I was rapping with him before I even got a deal and his skills have always been so exceptional. … So I always felt like if I got an opportunity I would bring him along and now I have that opportunity.

You let cameras follow you for a three-part reality special on E! What was that like?

It’s been fun because I think that my fans are getting a real kick out of it. I’m happy I did it. … I don’t really have an opinion on it. It was just a decision for me to show more of myself and I never really know how people are going to react to it, so I’ve started stepping back and away, and getting away from just overthinking it.

Were you hesitant about doing it?

Of course I was hesitant. I’m a very private person. I definitely thought about it a lot and then I went for it.

What are your favorite albums of the year?

Minaj: I really have been enjoying all of the hip-hop albums that came out because I feel like hip-hop artists have been taking their careers into their own hands and I just want to give a salute to everyone because it’s not easy. … The music has been sort of changing and adding new sounds to the game and introducing new people to the game, so I would just give a big nod to hip-hop for 2012.

Is working as a judge on “American Idol” what you thought it would be like?

No. … They’re very long days and that’s the biggest thing I didn’t really expect. … I’m used to being able to handle my business at any time, and when it’s ‘American Idol,’ sometimes we’re in one place for eight hours judging people and I can’t go to my BlackBerry every five minutes like I’m used to. So that kind of slows my business down and that is something that I never could have foreseen. But, as a whole, I love the experience that I’m getting.

Photo: Mark J. Terrill/Invision/AP
MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles.

How are you and Mariah Carey, another new judge on “Idol,” getting along?