This is potentially the most literal cover Nicki Minaj has ever posed for. She’s f*cking herself!?
In a post about the cover, entitled “Minaj À Trois: Break the Internet,” Drew Elliott, the creative director of Paper magazine, describes it as an “innovative” representation of the complexity of who Nicki is.
“We have seen different versions of Nicki, from high fashion to seductive to in-your-face and eye-catching all at the same time,” Elliott wrote. “But we had never seen all of these together—and now we have the chance, thanks to our cover shoot with the rap star and Ellen von Unwerth.”
At first glance, the cover symbolizes Nicki at her finest. The cover’s aesthetic, its overt sex appeal, and her body, sprinkled with diamonds and coated in Pink Friday pastel, is an intentional parody of Nicki’s complexity. But if there’s anything that we know for sure about the Queen of Queens, is that this is precisely what she wants us to see. She owns her career, representation, and body. From Roman Polanski to Harajuku Barbie, the fun in her public persona is in her superpower ability to shapeshift.
I’m not certain that cover is worthy of the “break the internet” designation, but it has provoked discussion.
This discussion isn’t meant to take away from the radical work that occurs every time a Black woman claims ownership of her body, her sexuality, and her fame. Nicki has likely inspired millions of women to take back their power in whatever way that means to them. There’s even more power in the fact that the last cover to “break the internet” was none other than a white woman, Kim Kardashian, taking on the pose and silhouette of a Black woman. So what is the actual intent behind this particular cover and its timing?
This is Nicki’s first cover since she graced Marie Claire in November 2016, where she took on a more buttoned up and refined persona. And her recent headlines have been controversial: Critics questioned if she would offer a nod or nah to hip hop’s newcomer Cardi B. They questioned her support of her brother, Jelani Miraj, who stood trial for raping a minor.
Is the cover meant to bring attention back to the queen’s court and away from the drama?
We know Nicki and Paper want to break the internet, but the gag is, the internet is seemingly undecided. To be honest, so are we—but we’ll definitely be waiting for the cover story to drop Wednesday afternoon.