TIME Music

Nicki Minaj: What It’s Like When Beyoncé and I Are in the Studio Together

Recording artist Nicki Minaj performs onstage during the 2014 American Music Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 23, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.
Michael Tran—Getty Images Recording artist Nicki Minaj performs onstage during the 2014 American Music Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 23, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.

"I knew girls were going to be posting pictures on Instagram saying '#feelingmyself,'" the rapper says. "I told Beyoncé that"

Nicki Minaj’s collaboration with Beyoncé on a remix of “Flawless” was one of the most electrifying musical moments of 2014. So when Minaj was recording her third album, The Pinkprint, Beyoncé was happy to return the favor by guesting on Minaj’s song “Feeling Myself” — lending that distinctive Yoncé swagger to Minaj’s ode to self-celebration of all kinds. (Good luck finding a better put-down than this one, courtesy of Minaj: “Bitches ain’t got punchlines or flow / I have both, and an empire, also.”)

In a new interview with TIME, on stands Feb. 6, Minaj opens up about the challenges of building her business, body image pressures in the music industry and the abortion she had as a teenager. But she also has a lot to say about her work with Bey.

“When I did ‘Flawless,’ she said that she would do something for The Pinkprint,” Minaj says. “I was ecstatic. She had ‘Feeling Myself’ — she wanted to know how I felt about it. I said, ‘I love it.’ I knew girls were going to be posting pictures on Instagram saying ‘#feelingmyself.’ I told Beyoncé that. I was like, ‘You already know what’s going to happen.'”

But both performers wanted to recreate the magic. “There was pressure,” Minaj says. “‘Flawless’ impacted so hard. But people seemed to love ‘Feeling Myself,’ too. I was excited that we got another one. With ‘Flawless,’ it makes girls feel good about themselves. You could say, ‘I’m feeling myself’ or ‘I’m flawless.’ It’s something every girl wants to say.”

Since the two never made a video for the “Flawless” remix, the song seems primed for a video treatment, but Minaj says there’s nothing in the works yet. “We never talked about it,” Minaj says. “‘Flawless Remix’ went No. 1 on urban radio without a video. Which is crazy! It wasn’t even on iTunes. So I don’t know that we need to do a video. But I would — of course — love to do one.”

As for their process together in the studio, Minaj found the experience very educational. “I always feel like I learn so much when I work with her. I don’t normally work with people like me. I’m always the one feeling like I’m a lunatic.” Minaj laughs. “Like I’m over-thinking everything. But she’s very, very hands-on. So whenever I work with her, I feel maybe I’m not so bad after all.”

For more with Minaj, pick up the new issue of TIME, on stands Feb. 6.

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