Rap icons Nicki Minaj and Stormzy both have big things in the works: Minaj has promised a fifth album out soon, and Stormzy has his third album, ‘This Is What I Mean’, dropping November 25th. Both musicians are legendary figures in the industry, transforming the landscape of hip-hop while also evolving their personal voices. Samuel Ellis Scheinman cast them for i-D Magazine no. 370, The Royalty Issue.
Minaj and Stormzy spoke to JT of City Girls and Rick Rubin of Def Jam Records, respectively, for their i-D Winter 2022 cover stories. Luis Alberto Rodriguez photographed Minaj, and David Sims photographed Stormzy.
Minaj and JT discussed the trajectory of Minaj’s career, and all the success she’s had despite the double standards she’s had to navigate for over a decade. “There’s always been a lack of representation for Black women: as soon as you start becoming famous, you owe it to the entire culture to say things that other Black women can repeat to make themselves feel great… Once you see the look on people’s faces when they’re singing your lyrics back to you, and the confidence and happiness they’re having, it makes you want to always empower girls to feel, ‘Yo, I don’t need a guy for anything,’” says Minaj.
For his cover story, Stormzy gave Rubin a preview of his new album, which is much more raw and vulnerable than his earlier music. “Real artistic freedom is about not considering the audience… It’s not about defying what everyone thinks about you; it’s about being totally true to yourself.” says Stormzy, “[This album] reflects the man I am and the man I’ve become, where I’m at in my life. It’s a reflection of growth.”