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Nicki Minaj Called Me (Part 2/3)
The shower was quick and painless. Only when I went back to my room there wasn’t the closet catalog to choose from: just the tight jeans and tight black t-shirt already sprawled out on the bed. Already selected by Nicki.
Later on, I walked past the constant cameras. The clothes tight and stylish. Just like how Nicki wanted them. I heard Tom Petty’s “Christmas (All Over Again)” coming from that dancefloor. Nicki’s Christmas playlist a twenty-four hour affair. The club open all night… Only Club Staff wasn’t. Down the hall I saw its door still closed. The lights off inside. Its Nicki soundtrack silent. Her wax sisters no longer partying since Ash and I left.
Ready for the Queen, I journeyed through the labyrinthe. The Christmas maze, the lights. The mairjuana tree. The long hallways and glowing gold records.
I only made one beer detour. One stop amongst the many roadside bars. After downing three bottles of Dos Equis, I felt more relaxed. More comfortable for Nicki and I’s forthcoming conversation.
I saw the open doorway leading to the studio. Leading me to Nicki Minaj. I glanced down at the tight jeans that would surely get her salivating. Took a deep breath. My soul with some hesitation before I went straight inside.
There was the intimate space. The soundproof walls. The live room where Mrs. Majesty made the magic happen. A Trinidad decor was evident in the various colorful trinkets from Nicki’s many travels. The elephant figurines, the kaleidoscopic paintings of various women of color. And of course, there were the notebooks. Dozens and dozens of them scattered about like toys in Nicki’s personal playland. Well, the non-sex toys, that is…
Each open notebook was covered in the rapper’s pretty scrawl. Lyrics both clever and insane. A beautiful madness punctured the pages. Judging by the sheer amount of binders, when Nicki got on a roll, she was a frenetic force. Unstoppable in her drive and creativity.
On the control room table was a bottle of wine. Two glasses already poured. And there sat the Queen on her pink swivel chair. The studio her throne. Her bitch.
Her fingernails were now red claws. A match to the fiery red wig. The make-up vivid but professional. Along with thin wire-rimmed glasses, her beige pants suit was somehow scholarly and bland even with such beauty lying beneath it. Sitting there with a pen in hand and notebook in lap, Nicki looked to be in academic mode. All business inside the studio.
Nicki flashed me a warm smile. “Mmm, those look nice…”
Flattered, I glanced down at the preppy attire. The type of clothes late-twenty-somethings flaunted when they played high schoolers on T.V. And they were a perfect fit too. “Yeah, thanks.”
The two of us looked on at each other. Nothing weird. Just mutual respect… or attraction. The Ronettes’ “Sleigh Ride” the only sound through the silence.
Nicki relaxed in her seat. “Hey, shut the door!”
Following orders, I closed it behind me. Gone was The Ronettes’ harmonies. That was curtains for Nicki’s Christmas playlist here in the soundproof studio.
Using the notebook, Nicki motioned toward the other swivel chair. “Have a seat, Rhonnie. Let’s get down to business, shall we.”
I sat down and rolled the chair closer. Nicki now loomed up over me. Her huge ass undoubtedly helped in the height advantage. Then again, her aura had power, and it always kept the Queen in control.
Nicki waved around the room. “Bringing back any memories?”
“Oh yeah. The interview…” An awkward chuckle escaped my lips.
Behind confident eyes, Nicki watched me. Her claws kept tapping the notebook in a repetitive rhythm. “You know, I’m sorry things didn’t work out.”
Through her weak smile, I sensed Nicki’s sincerity. This personality wasn’t manic or aggressive. Not yet at least. “Naw, you’re fine,” I said. “We, uh… we had fun.”
Nicki laughed. “Definitely!” Then she lunged forward, getting closer to me. “But I really wanted a book. I wanted my story to be told, Rhonnie.”
Struggling under her female gaze, I hesitated. “And it still can… I’d love to give it another try.”
“Ooh, I’d love that….” Nicki leaned back. “You know, I really love your writing, Rhonnie. I think you’d do amazing things covering the life and times of Onika Maraj.”
Now I was flying high. A horrible actor, I did my best to play it cool. “Well, I’m glad somebody thinks so...”
“Oh, we do! Trust me. You’ve got the talent, baby.”
“I appreciate it.”
Nicki pointed her blood-red finger right at me. “You write movies too, right?” I laughed. “Whoa, shit, look at you!”
“I know my shit…”
“But yeah, I started out with the screenplays. I’ve always been a movie person-”
“So what happened?”
Pausing for a second, I took note of Nicki’s focused gaze. She was interested, alright… “These filmmakers, man. They’re all broke and do a shitty job.”
“Ah…” Nicki took a quick sip of wine.
“It’s a long story. I just… I don’t have an agent, they don’t read shit unless you know somebody. And I’m broke as fuck so I can’t film anything…” Here I was rambling. Rhonnie The Jaded Writer making his grand return. Angry. Talking with my hands. “But that’s why I started the NoSleeps. I actually wrote a couple of novels before that, but I’m just trying to build an audience now.”
“Well, you got me hooked!”.
Even I had to smile. “I’m glad. I just got tired of getting fucked by Hollywood.”
Nicki struggled to suppress a smirk. “Well, hey, at least it was fun when I fucked you.”
Damn, she was clever. I grinned. “Yeah. My best Hollywood experience for sure!” I ran a hand through my swoop. “And Hell, at least you paid me!”
Getting comfortable, Nicki readjusted on her throne. Her tone stayed consistent and precise. Her T.V. journalist performance pretty impressive. “But about the biography, would you be willing to do something else for me?”
“Yeah, uh. What do you mean?”
“Look, Rhonnie, the Barbz loved the story.”.
I smirked. “I guess it has a cult following going.”
Nicki just kept her eyes on me. There was no unwavering smile to offset the seriousness. She meant business. All as her relentless claws kept tapping the notebook... “I did the research. My album sales, the downloads, everything went up after you posted that NoSleep.” In a mic drop moment, Nicki’s hand collapsed on to the binder. “And now I want more!”
“Whoa…” I struggled to say through the excitement. “So you want like a whole series?”
The shit-eating grin never left my face. Already my mind was racing with ideas. I turned away, disoriented by my life-long dream.
“I’ll pay you as well,” Nicki continued. “You can even go back to Albany, Georgia.” With seductive poise, Nicki leaned in a little closer. “Or Hell, you and Ash can come here.”
I faced Nicki. “So did people really like the story that much?”
“Oh, Hell yeah!”
“Did any of them… believe it?”
Nicki revealed a sly smile. “Some.”
Enjoying the spotlight, I folded my arms. “So fucking crazy… Honestly, I just wanted to tell the truth about what happened… I wasn’t trying to write creepy fan fic or erotic shit. I was just wanting to portray you as accurately as possible, Nicki. I mean Hell, I thought that’d be my only shot at the biography!”
Nicki’s female gaze was starting to appear. “Not at all.”
Still rambling, I threw my hands up. “And then some people found it hot. They seemed more aroused than anything-”
“Why wouldn’t they?”
I gave her an amused look… realizing she was kinda right.
“Pegging’s hot,” Nicki continued. “And it ain’t like those rumors about me fucking men in the ass weren’t around before your story.”
I revealed a smirk. “Yeah...”
Rivaling my own elation, Nicki rolled her chair in closer toward me. “I just want you to do one thing.”
“Make it even sexier! Get fucking crazy with it!”
“What… You’re joking, right?”
Nicki pointed at her stone cold glare. “Do I look like I’m fucking joking, Rhonnie!” She gave me a light punch on the arm. And damn, it still hurt… “Just do what I say! Write about all the sex. About how hot I am.” For emphasis, she squeezed her own breasts. “These titties, this ass, the pegging.” Nicki pointed at me. ”Squeezing a guy’s ass or making him strip down, the fucking hot shit, Rhonnie! I need more of that!”
The speech left me in stunned silence. There was a lot to unpack. Amongst the shock and intrigue, there was also disappointment...
Nicki shook my shoulder. “Just do more of that! That’s what we need.”
I pulled away from her. “But why...”
I pointed between us. “I just told you, I didn’t intend to just make you out to be some fucking bimbo, Nicki! I wanted to humanize you. That was the whole point!”
With a subtle smile on her face, Nicki just watched me.
“Like yeah, I told the truth,” I went on. “I wrote about the crazy sex but that wasn’t the point! I wanted to show the world the real you. I wanted them to see Onika Maraj. This was a biography.”
In a twisted taunt, Nicki caressed my face. “Oh, that’s so cute, Rhonnie.”
I knocked her hand away. “No, I mean it!”
Her smile was swiped clean. Nicki now literally got in my face. “And that’s fan-fucking-tastic!”
Scared, I cowered back into my seat. Nicki hadn’t even yelled... she didn’t need to.
“Look, baby, what you’re saying is true,” continued Nicki. She laid a hand in my lap. Dangerously close to awakening my penis... “And I appreciate it, Rhonnie. I’m glad you captured the real me.”
“I tried,” I said. I stole a look down at her hand. “Are you sure Zoo’s cool with this?”
Nicki’s grip got tighter. “Yes, Zoo’s fine, Rhonnie!”
“I’m just saying…”
Like a starved animal, Nicki pulled my chair closer toward her. “You got my vibe well, but that’s not what got me famous, Rhonnie! I wish it was but it wasn’t.”
“What are you talking about? You’re talented as fuck and that’s another reason I-”
“And so are you!” Nicki interrupted. “And that’s my whole point!” Gentle, Nicki’s claws ran along my cheeks… “I was like you once, Rhonnie. I had the talent. The drive, the dedication.”
Rivetered, I watched her every move. Her every emotion.
Nicki sat back in her seat. “But none of that mattered. I got nowhere in my career... I was broke…” She flashed a weary smile. “Those Barbie dreams were far away back then.”
“I understand,” I said.
“Being a female rapper…” Nicki shrugged her shoulders. “You just have to play the game.”
“Sex, the male gaze.” I waved toward her body. “All that shit just to have your voice heard.”
Nicki nodded. But the bitterness didn’t manifest itself in tears or weakness. Just hardened toughness. “I had to play the freak. For every ‘Regret In Your Tears,’ I have to do three or four whackass sex songs.”
Showing support amidst the Queen’s self-reflection, I grinned. “Like ‘Anaconda’?”
Nicki laughed. “What! You don’t like-”
“God, I hate that song!”
Nicki grabbed my arm. “But you see my point, right!”
“I do. Definitely.”
Ruminating on the famed career, Nicki ran her hands along the notebook. Struggled to maintain eye contact. Obviously relieved for the deeper conversation… if uncomfortable. “That’s why I have to do all this shit. To do what I really want I have to shake my ass or flaunt my titties! It’s frustrating, man. To have to write some of these lyrics and keep being the freaky bitch for everyone… I mean for once I’d like to have Channing Tatum or someone give me a lapdance in a music video but that’d scare the ‘straight’ guys watching… I can’t objectify men for the serious money.” She looked right at me. A vague glimmer of defeat in her power. “Just myself.”
The words, the realities left me in a sad silence. I had even more empathy for Onika now. Especially after hearing this requiem for Nicki’s initial rap idealism.
“So you see,” Nicki said. “The sex sells, Rhonnie. That’s all that matters.” She pointed a red claw at me. “And that’s why we need more of it in the stories.”
“But we don’t!” I replied. “You don’t have to do-”
“Listen, if you’re wanting to do this full time, Rhonnie, you gotta compromise!” Nicki yelled in a voice driven by years of rage. Years of industry suppression.
I waved toward the studio. “But look, you have the money! You’ve already played their stupid fucking game!”
Nicki stared at me. The glasses hid any tears or melancholy. Then again, Nicki always hid it well. She had the perfect poise. The confidence necessary for a black woman to climb her way to the top of the entertainment food chain.
“We can just write the truth,” I continued. “You can write the songs you want to write. You don’t have to satisfy this fucking thirst from others who just watch you for the sex. You don’t have to make money off that shit anymore! You can be the great artist you are! The one you were born to be!”
Right before me, Nicki’s creative mind went into contemplation. “At this point, I’ve got no choice,” she said. “I need the money just like anyone else, Rhonnie.”
Snapping into scary Nicki, she lunged toward me. A fiery fervor consumed her. The red wig and fingernails made her a rap Goddess straight from Hell.
I got quiet real quick.
“Don’t you understand! I’ve got no choice, Rhonnie!” Nicki shouted. “I’m thirty-seven years old! There’s not much time for a woman in this industry to be the best, man!”
“I know,” I said in a low voice. “I’m sorry...”
More calm, Nicki leaned back. “I’m just glad I can talk about pegging now,” she admitted. “Hell, that’s some progress for female empowerment for you.”
“True… But I just think there’s nothing to lose by focusing more on your artistic vision. You don’t have to keep exploiting yourself-”
“Maybe I want to,” Nicki interrupted.
With seductive slowness, Nicki creeped in closer. “Sometimes I like the attention.” She let out a confident cackle. “The thought of all those guys and girls finding me hot… I don’t know.” She bit her lip with erotic emphasis. “It turns me on.”
I grinned. “I’m not arguing with-”
Giving in to her natural theatrics, Nicki collapsed back on the chair. Now channeling her inner Bob Dylan. Her inner eccentric rock star. Letting all those quirks and tics whisk her away. “I mean yeah, it’s frustrating not to get to do my deeper songs all the time. To embrace being the artist I know I am... That’s what I really want, don’t get me wrong.” Holding my gaze hostage, she shrugged her shoulders. “But sometimes it’s sexy to play the star. To be all hot and beautiful... I like it sometimes...” She flashed that beaming smile. “And it gives me money. Power. Certainly helped me get you here.”
Nicki’s hands veered under the notebook. Stacking them on top of one another, she created a literal handmade dick. “It lets me do whatever I want to you, Rhonnie…” Moaning and grunting, Nicki pretended to peg me right then and there. Her thrusts always so aggressive. Even when she was only pretending to fuck me hard…
I couldn’t turn away. Nor couldn’t help but be aroused… Trying not to give in to the steamy sight, I sifted in my seat. Battled my rising bulge. “But still, there’s no way to ignore the money?” I asked. “Do the music that best captures you.”
Ignoring me, Nicki kept on with the imaginary fucking. Her grunts got louder. The Queen clearly nearing her orgasm…
Still I tried to steer us back on track. I moved in toward her. “Just make your own album about you and all these hot guys or you and your relationships,” I continued, my voice louder in an attempt to overpower Nicki’s carnal cries. “Instead of having to exploit your body so much, you can do more songs you care about!”
Cackling, Nicki sat up straight. She clapped her hands together.
“What?” I said.
“You’re funny. God… you’re always funny, Rhonnie.”
I revealed an amused smile. “Well, thanks...”
“I mean it!” Nicki pushed her dangling red hair back. “Oh shit.”
In the cold room, I hesitated. Struggling to stay serious and heartfelt amidst Nicki’s lingering laughter. “I don’t mean to sound like I’m judging you, Nicki because I’m not.” I felt her stare settle in on me. “You make a lot more than me and still can make great music… I just think you’re better than that.”
“And so are you,” Nicki said in a sharp reply.
Confused, I felt unease surge through me. My goofy smile couldn’t play it off either. “What do you mean?”
Armed with a wide grin, Nicki slowly crept closer toward me. “I told you this last time.” The two of us were now just inches apart. “I know allll about you, Rhonnie.”
Anxiety joined my unease. I now trembled...
“You like the attention too,” Nicki said. “I know you do!”
“So what are you trying to say?”
“I’m just proving my point.” Mrs. Majesty shrugged her shoulders. Her smirk slicing into me. “Sex sells.” She rested a hand on my knee. “You should know that as well as anyone.”
Warm sensations erupted inside me. I felt body heat. As if our emotional therapy session had morphed into a Skinemax porno...
“You’re the one that’s always posting on Reddit,” Nicki teased. “Letting all those horny desperate girls and guys ogle you like that. Jerking off to you... You fucking love it, don’t you?”
She had me. “Yeah,” I admitted.
Nicki now felt along my chest. “Your dick and ass pictures on ladyboners and gaybros. I know you do it, Rhonnie. I know alll about you remember...”
The room finally got hotter…
“Let’s go through those accounts, shall we,” Nicki pressed further. “Ronaldlongdick.”
I smiled at Nicki. “Yeah, that’s me.”
“That one was obvious...”
Nicki’s claws ran wild across my body. Fueled by her desire. Not that I was complaining…
“Bubblebutt4days,” Nicki continued. She let out a soft chuckle. “And rhonnie141414. Hmm, that’s sure discreet.”
“Yeah, that was when I was twenty-four, man...”
“But that’s the thing.” Nicki’s grip settled in on my thighs. “You know that account you deleted. Ronaldlongdick.”
Nicki got closer. The two of us now noses apart. “How many followers did it end up with?”
Not wanting to answer, I turned away.
“Come on now,” Nicki taunted. “You know how many, bitch.”
I gave her a defeated smirk. Knowing full well what she was about to say… And how she’d proven this harsh reality: sex sells.
“Thirteen hundred followers, Rhonnie!” Nicki shouted.
The inevitable set in. I nodded along with her. Overpowered by the Queen once more. “I know...”
Nicki purred with delight. “And compare that to your writing, huh? The rhonnie14 sub?” She nudged my chin. “How many?”
“Eight hundred and-”
“Five!” Nicki said with me. Her triumphant laugh blared.
Cornered by Nicki, I shrugged. “Well… you got me...”
“So think about this, Rhonnie. You’re more famous for that dick.” With excited delight, Nicki slid her hands on to my booty. “And that ass than your horror stories...”
“Thanks, Nicki,” I deadpanned. “I appreciate the support!”
Nicki chuckled as she squeezed tighter to my ass. “All I’m saying’s you gotta do what you gotta do to get famous, boo. To make real money.” She ran her hands along my abs. “And now that you’ve been working out, I can go ahead and tell you, you’d make bank flaunting all this on-line. Those down low brothas and thirstyass sistas would be all up on you.”
“Stop it!” I joked. “I can’t handle this many compliments.”
“Bitch, please!” Nicki gave me a shove before sitting back in her seat. “You love that shit and you know it! You know you do!”
“Naw, you’re right... You’re totally right.”
“All I’m saying’s they appreciate your body more than the Goddamn stories! The shit you bust your ass to write, but they’d rather see that big dick and booty than anything else! You gotta profit off that, babe!”
I smirked. “So what are you saying? That I become a male stripper or something?”
Nicki snorted with laughter. “Hell, maybe! But just think about these stories for instance. You mix sex with storytelling like I did with the raps, and you got something that’ll sell, Rhonnie!”
Goddamn, she made sense… I nodded in agreement. “I see.”
“Like this next one, just go crazy with it! You know the Barbz will eat it up. Me pegging this Zac Efron-looking writer and his fineass all over the place!”
“Man, you’re really on this Efron kick lately...”
Nicki readjusted her glasses. “Bieber too. Because y’all fine and kinda look alike. Kinda built alike.”
Genuinely flattered, I probably blushed. “Thanks.”
“But people are fucking dumb. That’s the shit you gotta do to get fans, boo!”
“Naw, you’re totally right...”
Nicki straightened the notebook. “Like write about Ashley pegging you, you showing your dick to dudes on-line. That’ll sell like crazy. More views, more readers. Exploit it!”
“I guess I’ll start now then. With these new stories and all, the series.”
Like a supportive coach, Nicki pointed toward me, hyping me up. “Exactly! You got this!”
Already the wheels were turning. The crazy scenarios I could write about the Minaj mansion.
“You and Ashley can always come back here too,” I heard Nicki say. “I’ll give y’all another vacation...”
I smiled at Nicki. “I bet you would.”
She opened the binder. “Hey, y’all sexy. And I got you dressing in those clothes I like.”
I felt on the shirt’s fine fabric. “Yeah, from like 2008.”
“But trust me, Ash’s ready…”
“I bet she’s tearing that ass up every night too...”
Playful, I gave Nicki a weirded out look.
Laughing, she flipped through a few pages. “You know I’m crazy as Hell.”
“No doubt…” And then I saw the joint tucked away toward the back of the binder... Pristine California grass. A pink lighter laying right beside it. Holy shit…
“But for real, I wanna help,” Nicki said. She picked up the j. “You need someone dominant guiding you. Like with you and Ashley.”
Nicki held the pot out toward me. “You think you can handle it?”
“Shit…” I stood up. “If I can handle what you did to me last time, I can take anything.”
With a Devilish laugh, Nicki flicked the lighter. The flame showcased a wild glint in her eyes. Further revealed the ferocious soul under that red wig...
It turns out I couldn’t handle it. The next few hours were a blur. A gonzo production directed by wine and the strongest pot I ever smoked. Shit got weird. Nicki and I’s conversations ranged from 90s horror movies to heteroflexibility (don’t ask). Our high happiness interspersed with hysteria. Maybe there was a kiss. More groping. I honestly can’t remember...
Hours later, I awoke from the Christmas cannabis. All to the tune of Maroon 5’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).” Adam Levine’s piercing falsetto a ringing church bell to my haze.
Shivering, I folded my arms. “Fuck…” I muttered. First, I was glad to be wearing the same MySpace-era wardrobe. To actually be in a fucking bed, much less my bedroom… Until I saw who was laying beside me: Nicki herself. She was out cold. Another bottle of wine clasped in her hands like a teddy bear. A Santa Claus hat blended into her wig. Now I realized I had a Santa hat draped over my swoop... But, at least we were both dressed and lying on the covers. Neither of us could get MeToo’d now.
Staying quiet, I snuck out of bed. I slipped around in my socks. My clumsy footsteps drowned out by Maroon 5’s holiday cheese.
I looked toward the open doorway. Out toward where the Christmas concert continued… from Nicki’s personal nightclub.
Glasses slid down my nose. Confused, I took them off… They were the purple Buddy Holly ones. The same pair Nicki gave me last time. I put them back on and looked over at the bed… Toward the resting Queen. Had she taken my contacts out for me? The gesture was odd… but still kinda sweet.
The holiday playlist changed to Judy Garland’s “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” A pretty melody and even prettier voice. But one that should soothe Nicki to sleep for the time being...
Battling the migraine, I entered the hallway. Curiosity compelled me. Not to mention snacks, man.
I turned and looked down the hall. Toward the fateful Club Staff. Sextopia City. Now there was a light on inside the room… Even a faint chatter I could hear over this Christmas classic.
I took another step toward it. Now I heard multiple, muffled voices. It couldn’t have been the wax figures… Certainly, not Nicki herself. Sure, her range was supreme but not even she could hit those deeper male tones.
Uneasy, I looked on at the closed door. The room taunting me, tempting me. But it was too late for this shit… And I knew once I snuck in there, Club Staff would be hard to leave.
I proceeded through the rest of the mansion. Every clock read three A.M. The munchies made me stop once for those amazing cookies. And to my relief, there was no weed in them...
The barrage of standard Christmas crooners scored my journey. Stuck in the cold and surrounded by the decorations, I could even feel the holiday spirit.
I decided to dodge the nightclub. All the fucking bars. Through windows, I saw those powerful security lights bring daylight to the dead of night. Everything was illuminated. The pillars, the colors. All those fucking cameras. Nicki’s palace a fusion of government compound and wacky art exhibit.
I strayed into corridors unknown. Into yet another long hallway on the first floor. Fuck it, I was already lost in the Minaj maze. Then I saw a pair of wide-open double doors. The clinical lab lighting inside drew me in.
I stepped into the wide, vast space. The garage was fucking freezing... and there were quite a few cars in here. Quite a few crammed shelves and boxes. Only something was off… There was no style. Not a damn thing was pink.
Intrigued, I walked on through. Emulating a cheap detective. Dean Martin’s “Let It Snow!” echoed all around me… only the Christmas cheer was long gone by now. Replaced instead by rising unease.
The cars weren’t necessarily hideous. Just average. Used cars with lots of mileage. None of them any newer than 2016 models. Perfect for a blue-collar neighborhood or modest suburbia. But nothing befitting Nicki Minaj’s mansion.
The boxes and shelves offered more of the same mediocrity. Wrinkled clothes. Bland casual wear comprising of tee-shirts, jeans, and dresses. Nothing Nicki would touch much less showcase. Then there was the shitty jewelry. Obvious fake gold and silver. Yard sale fashion.
Scoffing, I glanced around the garage. Were all these items from the Queen’s pre-Minaj days? Mementos from her beloved past? Or was it just shit she planned on donating?
My handsome reflection caught my eye. I got a good glimpse of the perfect-fitting clothes.
A stained mirror leaned up against a set of rejected high school lockers. All of them with padlocks.
I stepped toward them. Tried yanking on those unwavering locker doors… I leaned in closer, peering through their metal’s holes. Clearly, shit was piled up inside. Hidden away. But why?
The mystery further unnerved me. My fear returned.
Then I heard a louder song: Burl Ives’ “Holly Jolly Christmas” blared through this mausoleum of a garage. The bells and chimes engulfed me. Trembling in the cold air, I looked toward the very back.
A window showcased Nicki’s sprawling backyard. Not to mention the different smaller buildings occupying the green acres. One larger shed caught my eye.... After all, who else would have a two story efficiency unit?
Much less one with two tall security guards stationed at the front door. Under the bright security lights, I saw the building’s windows were all boarded up. Spastic cameras hovering over it.
“What the fuck…” I said. Battling the nerves, I stepped closer to see another shed had the same set-up of guards and cameras. What exactly was going on...
All the while, no one saw me spying. The Queen’s guards remained silent and still. A 24/7 shield.
I felt a large pendulum bump into my ass… Then felt a pair of thirsty hands grab each cheek. Startled, I whirled around.
“Hey, boo!” rang that hypnotic voice.
There Nicki stood right behind me. Now dressed in casual booty shorts and a red tank top., she was barefoot and missing a wig. Her natural beauty a nice contrast to the trash treasure trove surrounding us. Her smile as enthusiastic as ever.
And of course, there was the strap. From her crotch, Nicki’s pink dildo danged down like a snake… A real anaconda brushing against my ass.
I staggered back out of fear… and maybe some excitement. “Whoa…”
Nicki cackled. “Did I scare you!”
Singing along, Nicki swung the dildo to the tune of Burl Ives. To the beat of the “ding…. dong…. ding...” harmonies.
I stared on at her third leg. Intimidated by the size… yet hypnotized by Nicki’s passion. Her magnetism. “Really, Nicki,” I quipped.
Chuckling, Nicki ran a hand along my arm. “What? I wanted to surprise you!”
“With the fucking pinkosaurus?”
“Yeah, why not.” She leaned in closer. “You’re the one sneaking out...”
I stole one look out the window. Out toward the guards. The strange buildings. “I just couldn’t sleep,” I told the Queen.
Nicki squeezed my wrist in a death grip of passion. “I can fix that.”
Flashing a smile, I broke away from her spell. “Naw, I need to go lay down. I can’t keep up with you!”
“Maybe tomorrow then?” Nicki teased.
“Maybe!” I then walked through the valley of Christmas music. Right into Burl Ives’ joyous vocals. The entire time I felt Nicki’s hungry eyes watch me. Staring me down hard… Her smile driven by nothing but desire. I forced myself not to turn. The temptation too much… but my tired state helped me persevere against the gorgeous rapper.
“You better be glad I don’t get a shake weight on that ass!” I heard Nicki shout with sadistic glee.
I Got Hired To Write Nicki Minaj's Biography (Part 1/2)
So imagine my surprise when I was asked to write a biography. No, not for Stephen King or Edgar Allan Poe. But an authorized biography for the one and only Nicki Minaj. Yeah, I was shocked too when I first read that mysterious e-mail. It fucking screamed scam. To think a NoSleep author with failed indie screenplays and a middling fanbase would ever get the chance to write the bio for the biggest female rapper of this decade?
The offer even said I'd be given full credit... not to mention insane pay. And all I had to do was just give the L.A. phone number a call...
To my surprise, a familiar female voice answered. The unmistakable charismatic and playful tone I'd heard on hit radio since 2010. My college celebrity crush: Nicki. And she sounded overjoyed to be talking to me! Her contagious laughter sweeter than John and Paul's harmonies.
Nicki told me she loved my stories. She even referenced deep cuts like I Went From Being A Hard-Working Mother To Being Accused Of Murder and My Office Crush Attacked Me. She praised the scares, the twists, prose, even the Goddamn similes. And most of all, she was impressed by the diversity of my casts.
For once, I felt like someone got me. And that someone was Nicki Minaj of all people. And she didn't stop there either. The authorized biography meant I'd get the chance to spend time with the artist herself. A one-way ticket to Beverly Hills she was paying for! Free room and board at the Queen's castle of a mansion.
"I've been wanting to meet you so bad!" she said. "You're an awesome writer, Rhonnie."
"Well, thank you," I replied, my heartbeat running away...
But I had to tell her the truth: I'd never written anything outside the horror genre. Nothing non-fiction.... much less an anticipated biography like this. The task kinda scared me.
"No, you got this!" Nicki yelled. "I know you can write, Rhonnie. You're the one to tell my story. Just you!"
Again, she had my heartbeat running away...
"I don't need the damn biographers or journalists or whatever," Nicki went on, her excitement enunciating each and every syllable. "I need you. I need a real writeeerr..."
The sweet purr sold me.
"And I think together, we can really make something happen," the superstar continued. "Like something classic!"
"I'd be honored," I said with a beaming smile.
"Just bring your ass here," Nicki went on. "I'll cover everything."
Here I was standing alone in my girlfriend Ashley's apartment. On my day off from stocking sodas. Just finding out Nicki Minaj had been my cheerleader all along...
"Thank you!" I said to her. "This is gonna be so amazing. My girlfriend loves you! Ashley's gonna lose her shit when she gets to meet you!"
"Well, I can't wait to meet her!" Nicki replied. "You know I'm always here for my fans."
"I'd love to meet Ashley. Can I call her Ash?"
"Holy shit, that's what she prefers!"
Nicki unleashed a Roman laugh. "Oh my God, I knew it! And yeah, we'll all meet when the book's done."
Slight disappointment sunk into me. "When it's done?"
"Yeah. We can't have no distractions, Rhonnie. We gotta sacrifice. We have to focus."
Hesitant, I leaned against the kitchen counter. "So I'm really going by myself? You're cool with that?"
"Of course!" Nicki said. "I ain't trying to creep you out, you're the horror writer!"
I couldn't help but smile.
"Look, my man ain't gonna be there either," Nicki continued. "It's just gonna be us geniuses. That's how I like to work."
Nicki had a point. I just wasn't sure how Ash was gonna respond...
"Well, Ashley really would love to meet you," I said. "Her mom's from Trinidad."
"Oh, really?" Nicki said, her voice taking on a scholarly tone. "You like us Trini girls then?"
I laughed. "Well, yeah."
"Well, tell Ash I'll make it up to her. Homegirl's got her when we finish the book."
The conversation flowed as well as Nicki's best verses. We chatted like old friends. Two artistic souls forming a bond. Nicki herself even went ahead and e-mailed more information. Even a fucking plane ticket.
Of course, my cynical dark passenger kept me from being too overjoyed. What if someone hired an amazing voice impersonator or created a script based off Nicki sound bites? I couldn't be sure... but Goddamn, this seemed way too elaborate for the scams I was familiar with.
And deep down, I wanted this to be true. My future of being a full-time, professional writer looked set. Nicki Minaj had rescued me from obscurity. And in turn, she likely paved the way for Ash and I's inevitable marriage.
Once Ashley got home, I shared the insane news. She was happy. Ecstatic. Like a tween ready to meet her favorite pop singer, she broke down in excited screams.
"Oh my God, Nicki called you!" Ashley yelled. She gave me a ferocious bear hug. "See! I told you you'd be famous!" Her hands ran wild over me. "You're such a great writer, babe!" Then Ashley's kiss hit. The most passionate kiss we'd had in months... at this rate, sex was gonna be amazing tonight...
"Well, she liked the stories at least," I said.
"Shit, that's so crazy! I'm so proud of you, babe!" Like Nicki, Ashley too had Trinidad heritage. She had the smooth dark brown skin, the piercing eyes. Perfect teeth. And a nice figure considering she was all natural. Her flexible black hair could be amazing in a bun, straightened, or just left alone in its wavy perfection. But most of all Ash had personality to spare. A kind soul full of fiery life and strength.
On the other hand, I was a weird, skinny guy. Not tall at all. Messy straight brown hair and big green eyes. Even at 27, I still told I looked like a high schooler. Never in a complimentary way either. I always though my awkward good looks and goofy smile made it easy for people to walk all over me... Thank God, I had Ash to look out for us.
To my surprise, Ashley wasn't even upset about not being able to go with me.
"Oh, I trust Nicki!" she said behind a radiant smile. "If she says she'll get me there, she will." Ash gave my nose a playful tap. "I proud of you!" she said, using her goofy child's voice. "Just get that book done, babe. Do it for me." She squeezed my hand. "Make Nicki proud too."
Now I had both my crushes to please. With Ash's help, I did as much research as I could on Onika Maraj. Both from info on-line and from my self-proclaimed "Nicki Minaj expert" girlfriend. There was the superstar's roots: Nicki born in Trinidad, raised in Queens. Favorite color obviously pink. A female rapper with both sex appeal and ferocious flow. And also an underrated artist of many styles and personas.
Only familiar with her hits, I was surprised by Nicki's versatility. Even her emotional ballads like "Bed" and "I Lied" showcased a strong range often overshadowed by her tenacious theatrics. She's a singular talent. And so much more than the oversexualized cliche she's often portrayed as. I figured racism and Nicki's own aggressive raps lent a hand in keeping her from garnering too much mainstream acclaim.
Still playing the Nicki Minaj professor, Ashley educated me further on Minaj's life story. Nicki's gradual shift from tomboy to the Queen. I got a summary of Nicki's working-class beginnings, her hectic relationship with her parents, the messy romances through the years, and philanthropy work often overlooked by the media. Ultimately, I narrowed my focus on what this biography should be. Not lip service to Nicki's chart-toppers, the sexual dominance over her men, the amazing body... no, I wanted to do an exploration into the real Nicki Minaj. The side of her ignored by all the exploitation and critics. The beating heart beneath her music.
On Thursday afternoon, Ashley gave me a kiss at the airport. And then I was off to Beverly Hills.
The plane ride was lonely without her. But once I stepped foot in LAX, the excitement hit me. The fucking airport was loud and packed. An army of wannabe movie stars and musicians marched all around me. I wasn't in Stanwyck, Georgia anymore.
But there was no warm welcome party. Not the parade of chaos I expected upon meeting Nicki. Instead, a tall man in a psychedelic shirt and tight purple pants greeted me. Too chill to be a chauffeur or gofer. He held up a piece of paper with my name scribbled on it.
"What's happening, man?" he said to me in a Caribbean accent.
Even behind his thick red sunglasses, I could tell he was a friendly dude. A dark-skinned Trinidadian named Kellan. Muscular and in his late-20s, Kellan had the carefree charisma of a cool college kid. Rather than enduring any awkwardness, we bonded immediately.
To my relief, he showed me all the info on his phone. Nicki's directions for what she wanted him to do. Then together, we rode off in Kellan's silver SUV.
The L.A. weather was perfect. But of course, the traffic wasn't. The ten-mile trip took us a solid hour. All while Kellan kept his radio on the Top 40 station.
"So are you like related to Nicki?" I asked.
"Naw, man," Kellan chuckled. Calm and collected, he navigated the streets of L.A. like a pro. "We're just friends." He faced me. "We're from Trinidad, you know how that goes! We all get along."
I chuckled. "I saw that when I went with my girlfriend."
Soon, we traveled through a valley of gaudy mansions. Beverly Hills's finest. And the further we drove through this flawless neighborhood, the more spacious the yards became. The more isolated the mansions got.
We pulled up the long driveway. And sure enough, this star had a star home base. A three-story brick mansion. Nicki's pristine yard featured more intriguing artwork and statues than a meticulous museum.
The tall-iron pike gates slammed shut behind us. Surveillance cameras were everywhere, but none of the security took away the welcoming aura.
Kellan parked next to a pink Lamborghini. Awestruck, I stepped out, my bag in one hand, a folder of notes in the other. The Minaj Mansion was old yet regal. God knows what history this Hollywood palace had...
Regardless of the classy vibe, you could tell the house had character. The psychedelic pillars certainly showed off the Nicki touch. The mansion her own personal playland.
"Hi!" a cheerful voice called out.
Laughing, Kellan rubbed my shoulder. "Here we are, my man," he said.
My excitement only intensified. Especially once Kellan led me closer and closer to the front door. Closer to that exuberant voice.
There Nicki was standing on the porch. A cross between creative lunatic and Disney princess, the Queen wore a flowing green dress and layers of exotic jewelry. Messy pink hair and a lack of make-up a nice grungy addition to her elegant outfit.
"You made it!" she said through that tough accent.
Before I could even reply, Nicki gave me a warm hug.
"It's nice to meet you," I managed to say through the anxiety.
More radiant than a Golden Age movie star, Nicki confronted me. The smile of perfect teeth somehow soothed my nerves.
"Well, Hell, it's nice to meet you too!" Nicki responded. She motioned toward me. "Look at you. Rhonnie Fordham in my house! Right here on my porch!"
Needless to say, the inside of the house was nice as well. There were the framed albums and gold records. Minaj memorabilia in addition to collectibles from all her favorite musicians like Foxy Brown and Missy Elliott. I couldn't stop gazing at the many Trinidadian arts and crafts. Honestly, the entire house's interior design wouldn't have been out of place in one of Nicki's more inventive music videos. Everything was just so... vibrant. Aggressive and artistic. Just like Nicki.
Together, the three of us cruised through the spacious kitchen and living room. The long hallways. Even the home recording studio.
"I know Ashley can't wait to see all this," I said.
Nicki flashed me a smile. "Aww, she'll be here soon enough, babe." She leaned in close. "Once we finish our book."
Nicki led us toward the back of the house. "I mean Kenneth ain't even here!" she said. "So hey we all gonna be on our own. We're gonna focus."
"That's your boyfriend, right?" I asked.
"Yes. I told him to get his ass in New York." Her voice shifted toward manic Nicki. Her ensuing hand gestures straight out of an audition tape for the most deranged actress ever. "Just let me focus!"
The three of us walked into a narrow hallway. An antique chandelier hung over the marble floor. And through the maze of African-American paintings, I saw only three doors. Close to us were two doors standing side-by-side, the last one all the way at the other end of the hall.
One of the two doors was wide open, and I could see a workout room inside. There was all sorts of gym equipment and treadmills. Even a large flatscreen.
I followed Nicki to the guest room next to it. Colorful walls greeted me. Windows provided a nice view of Nicki's spacious yard. And the room's decorations were a cinematic dreamscape. Marlon Brando and James Dean posters, a wooden bookshelf showcasing a vinyl record player and dozens of horror movie books. Nicki really did like her horror...
Nicki latched her playful eyes on to me. "It's all yours, Rhonnie."
"I really appreciate it," I said. Enamored by the room, I got ready to toss my bag on to the comfy bed.
Nicki snatched my wrist in a tight grip. "Oh no, you ain't dressing like that."
Grinning, I watched her hand my bag over to an amused Kellan. "What do you mean?"
Like a stylist, Nicki motioned toward my current outfit. The purple tee and sloppy khakis. "Naw, you cute, but you ain't dressing like that here, boo."
"I'm a writer, what do you expect?" I remarked.
"Yeah, you're damn sure a writer, but I ain't having my biographer dress like some hipster without a cause."
"Too accurate, man..." I joked.
Chuckling, Kellan took my bag out into the hallway.
Nicki pulled me in closer. "We gonna get you newer clothes, Rhonnie. Some fresh shit!" She opened a closet.
A treasure chest of clothes stared back at us. The walk-in closet was chock-full of nice shirts, khakis, bathrobes, jeans, etc. All of them tailor-made to fit me.
"Wow..." was all I could say.
"What? You like it?" Nicki asked.
"Yeah." I shifted my gaze toward her twinkling face. A movie star glow beamed all around her. "You just reminded me of Ashley then."
"Oh shit, she dresses you too?"
I grinned. "When I actually listen."
Playful, Nicki took a calm step toward me. "Hmm, sounds like you should listen to her more."
At Nicki's insistence, I changed into a better outfit. Tight-fitting khakis and a red tee. She said I looked even better... I couldn't help but think I looked like a cast-off from one of her videos. Then again, the clothes were Nicki's vision so I needed to appease her.
From there, Nicki showed me my workout room. Besides the equipment, a long mirror dominated a wall. Not to mention several coolers and Keurigs were scattered about.
"You're gonna stay in shape in my house!" Nicki said, overexcited. "You're gonna be looking good on my watch, Rhonnie."
"I'll do my best," I replied. I looked over at our reflections. I gotta say, Mrs. Majesty had dressed me up pretty well... She looked like she was even checking me out...
The Queen cackled. "My castle, my rules! Remember that, boo!"
I followed her out toward the hallway. Helped by the giant mirror, I really got a strong view of Nicki's pure physicality. Her beauty. At only 5'2, Nicki felt stronger. She just looked more powerful. Hell, even taller...
Outside of leading lady looks, Nicki had the poise of a star athlete. A model's face with a fighter's ferocity. And while 36 wasn't old by any stretch of the imagination, she looked preserved at a permanent peak. Flawless, smooth brown skin. And a contagious energy. A sharp nose to match a rebellious spirit. Her eyes so big and vibrant. Of course, there was the bodacious booty, not to mention the bouncing boobs. But to me, Nicki's allure ran deeper than the superficial. Besides a pretty celebrity, she was also a mad scientist in rap. An eccentric, creative mind like myself. And ultimately, regardless of the stage name and surgeries, she was still Onika Maraj.
Loud music startled me. Jumping, I turned and looked down the hall.
"Super Bass" blared from behind that last door. The consistent chorus of "Boom, badoom, boom, boom..." like a rap air raid.
Nicki grabbed my arm, giving me another scare. "You alright?"
Grinning, I faced her. "Yeah." I stole another glance back at the door. "Like who all lives down there?"
Nicki gave the room a dismissive wave. "That's where the staff goes."
"Oh. Your staff?"
"I let most of them go home. That's probably just Martha and Cookie messing around this week."
Nicki snorted with laughter. "She's the cook!" She leaned in closer toward me. "I only wanted a few of us here, you know. No distractions from the staff."
"Super Bass" continued swirling around us. A steady soundtrack. Grinning, I looked back at the staff room. "Well, they might distract us with your own damn music."
"Naw, they ain't!" Nicki grabbed a hold of my hand. "Come on, I'll show you where we'll be working."
So out of all the home bars and gardens of pink flowers in this mansion, Nicki's sanctuary was the studio. The site for our writing sessions.
The studio was small but too cozy to be claustrophobic. Nicki's notebooks of many lyrics ran wild across a desk. In the corner, several home bars offered alcohol and coffee. Fuel for what I figured were the Queen's many late-night sessions. But there were no T.V.s, books, or magazines. No distractions as Nicki would say.
And there, we talked as friends and co-writers. Just Nicki and I along with an occasional guest appearance from the drunk Kellan. The conversation was fluid. Like a fireside chat in Nicki's own studio. I wasn't talking to the bombastic or psychotic personalities from all her different songs. I was talking to the real Nicki.
Midnight drew closer. And as the beer and wine increased, so did our banter. There was no awkwardness between us. Our chemistry sizzled.
"So Ashley was okay with you coming out here?" Nicki asked in a sly tone.
Smirking, I watched her take another sip of the red wine. "Yeah, well, she's a big fan."
Nicki purred with glee. "So she ain't gonna get jealous..."
"She's your biggest fan."
"Hmm..." Nicki leaned in closer. "That might be you pretty soon."
An hour later, I was back in the guest room. Wearing my oversized glasses and one of the green bathrobes Nicki had given me, I talked on the phone with Ash. Here I was less than twelve hours after leaving Stanwyck, and I was already homesick for my love. Even in this fucking comfortable bathrobe.
"How is it?" Ashley asked, her voice full of fangirl excitement. "Does she really have a pink garden?"
"Yeah," I replied. My eyes strayed toward my laptop. I could hear all the unwritten stories beckoning me...
Eager to concentrate on Ashley, I pressed the phone closer to my ear. "It's nice and all. Nicki's cool as fuck."
Ash laughed. "I knew she'd be! It's Nicki, babe!"
"Yeah, I know." Solemn emotions made me go silent. "I just miss you."
"Aww," Ashley said.
"I'm serious, babe," I said. "One fucking night and I already feel lost without you..." Melancholy creeping in, I stole a glance toward the windows. Out at the dark yard. The pretty artwork. And the harsh security gate. "I just miss you. I need you out here, I know you'll love it."
"I know I will too!" Ashley replied. "Like holy shit, I can't wait to see you and hang out with Nicki Minaj!"
Our conversation went even better than Nicki and I's. I told Ash I loved her and she'd be here soon. Then we'd really have ourselves a Beverly Hills vacation. With Ash's hero to boot.
Later on, I worked on a new story. My nocturnal session took me to around two in the morning.
Music erupted through the quiet night. Nicki's verse on "Rake It Up" ambushed me.
"What the fuck..." I muttered. Annoyed, I crawled out of bed. The peaceful solitude had turned into an obnoxious nightclub.
I stepped out into the hallway. Squinting behind my glasses, I could tell the music was coming from the room down the hall. The staff spot. And there in the darkness, I saw moving multi-colored lights glowing beneath the door. Maybe Kellan had joined Cookie and Martha...
But even over the ferocious beat, I heard something else... Uneasy, I turned and looked off toward the living room. I heard literal rapping. Not music or lyrics... just a rhythmic, repetitive tapping noise...
With cautious steps, I entered the living room. The sizzling fireplace provided comfortable warmth and a comfortable glow. The staff's music muffled off in the distance.
Thee was Nicki sitting on the couch. A pink bathrobe draped all across her silk pajamas. Behind her own oversized glasses, Nicki's eyes stayed glued to a huge pink laptop. Her fingers a storm of movement.
"Whoa..." I said with a smile.
Nicki looked up real quick. A warm grin crossed her face. "Sorry. I was writing."
"So was I." I looked over and saw Judge Judy playing on the T.V. "I didn't know you had my hours."
The Queen let out a raspy laugh. "I know you like staying up late too."
I motioned toward the hallway. "Apparently, the whole house does."
"That's because we nocturnal..." Nicki teased.
I couldn't help but keep smiling. Nicki was too charming. "Well, we got that in common."
Nicki went back to typing. Her quick hits like a mechanical chorus. "We've actually got a lot in common, Rhonnie."
The compliment made my heart leap.
"We're just two deranged artists fighting the world," Nicki went on.
I took a step closer toward her. "Man, that's poetic."
"See." Nicki finally came to a stopping point and faced me. "We both take this serous. These are our passions, Rhonnie." Still in scholar mode, she set the laptop down. Her voice fast and excited... just like mine got. "We stay up late doing this because we live and breathe to write, Rhonnie. We need to create! Hell, I even stay off my social media while I work!"
I chuckled. "I try."
Nicki stood up and approached me. She had the movement of a movie star with the eccentric tics of a college professor. "I mean my point is we spend most of our free time writing, Rhonnie. We aren't different even when I'm a rapper and you're a horror writer."
I nodded. "Naw, you're right. And people need to see that with you." Fueled by the booze and incoming ideas, I motioned toward her. "They need to see how dedicated you are! How passionate you are about your music!"
Even at three A.M., our impromptu interview had begun. Armed by more drinks, Nicki and I sat on a couch and connected. We got into her background. A chaotic childhood driven by a drug-addicted father and a dearly devoted mother. All those siblings Nicki loved dearly. Particularly her younger brother Caiah.
Our fireside chat carried on for an hour. Nicki was adamant Kellan was just a friend. Even when I questioned where her boyfriend Kenneth was...
"Well, where's your girlfriend, Rhonnie?" Nicki hurled back in a mock angry tone.
"Fair point," I responded.
Like a sharp spotlight, Nicki kept the starlet gaze on me. "This is about us, remember?" She glanced toward the hallway. "Kellan is just a friend. Just company while you and I work together, Rhonnie." She flashed a smile at me. "Then we'll have playtime."
We finally went to bed before sunrise. I awoke around 9:30 to find a note resting on the nightstand. Nicki's pretty handwriting had already laid out a schedule for me before the next interview.
Amused, I went ahead and did all the chores she asked. I wore the tight-fitting workout clothes she'd laid out for me. Flattering male yoga pants from what I saw in the gym mirror... I did my half-ass exercises for thirty minutes. Showered. And then wore the exact name-brand outfit she wrote down: tight jeans and a pink Polo.
I stepped out into the hallway when a sudden slam echoed toward me. Alert, I looked over and saw the closed staff room door. At least, no music was playing this early... Club Cookie hopefully wouldn't re-open till nightfall.
Lunch was already laid out in the kitchen. A real home-cooked platter of steaks and steamed vegetables. Even chocolate cheesecake. Shit, this was the life... I guess Cookie could cook after all.
"You like it?" a beaming voice asked.
Grinning, I turned to see Nicki standing in the kitchen doorway. She wore an obnoxious purple gown. A golden headdress adorned her wavy hair. What she had on was a glowing example of VMA weirdness. You know, the kind of shit only Nicki could pull off. "Yeah, this is amazing."
Nicki walked up to me. "Well, I know you worked out pretty hard."
"That's the most I've done in awhile..."
Confident, Nicki squeezed my arm. "Aww, I know how y'all writers are." Her voice was deeper than usual. Raspier and sultry like Lauren Bacall's. "But you can still stay in shape." Her enamored eyes looked me up and down. "You can still look so... nice."
After having a few drinks with Kellan, Nicki and I retreated to the studio. Into Nicki's personal fortress. And there we talked. My tape recorder and notepad in my hands, my focus solely on the Queen.
Together, we delved further into Nicki's past. Or at least what parts of it she wanted to share. To my surprise, she hated the stage name...
"It just had to be interpreted sexually," she ranted in that raspy accent. "I mean yeah, I don't mind it now, but why couldn't Nicki Maraj or Nicki The Ninja or something just suffice? I have to compromise with this shit just to get my music out there! And that's how it's always been, Rhonnie. The male gaze, we all gotta appease it!"
I nodded. "Naw, I see your point."
"Maybe I'd like to sexualize men more. I don't know rap about a fine boy and his fine ass, but people get all uptight about that shit." Nicki was in jaded overdrive. Her angry mannerisms veered out-of-control. "It's gotta be black girl big titties this, shaking this fat ass that!"
This was the side of Nicki I hadn't seen in person yet. She'd unleashed her inner angry rapper. "Well, tell me more about your parents," I said.
Nicki gave me an uneasy look. "What do you mean?"
"I mean like y'all's relationship. I know who they are-"
"What's there to say," Nicki interrupted. The purple dress couldn't disguise her discomfort. "I still love them."
"I know that." Struggling to strike the balance between supportive friend and brave biographer, I leaned in closer. My composure calm and chill. "But your mom and dad had a pretty rough relationship, right?"
"Look, dad was always shot out, alright." Her bold deep accent began crumbling... "He was always getting mad, yelling at her. Yelling at us..."
Keeping my distance, I stayed silent and respectful. I just listened.
"He tried to kill her one time," Nicki said. Her trembling hand brushed her hair to the side. "The son-of-a-bitch tried setting her on fire."
"I'm sorry," I said.
"No. Don't be. You didn't do anything." Nicki leaned back in her seat. No smile or playfulness, just a forced cool demeanor. "But they're both better now." Reflective, she gazed over at the desk. At her archive of lyrics. "I just try to come in here every day, you know. Just escape into the music."
Silence lingered for a few seconds. Until I pressed further. "So your mom did stay with him?" I asked, my voice steady.
Nicki gave me a dismissive wave. "Look, let's touch on that later." She forced a wide smile. "Let's get back to the MySpace days, man."
But I had to push forward. Even if I was shit at feigning toughness. "But Nicki, this stuff with your parents. We have to talk about it. You can't just redact the past, you know."
Fighting back, Nicki gave me a skeptical look. "But I'm not? What are you talking about?"
"I get it, you're wanting to move on," I continued. "But the point of these talks, the point of this book. It's to show your personal side. The Onika Maraj side, alright."
Quiet, Nicki's piercing eyes stayed on me.
"Just like with your music, I know songs like 'I Lied' or 'Chun-Li' captured those raw emotions," I said. "I want this biography to be like that! Not just mindless sex and pop music. But the soul-bearing. Your feelings."
Nicki's gaze held me hostage. Tense silence suffocated the studio.
"Like I said," Nicki struggled to begin. "We'll talk about it later."
My "tough interviewer" routine evaporated to stuttering and floundering. You know, the common issues with introverted writers... "I don't know, Nicki," I said. "I think talking about your family, your relationship with Caiah, all of that will be important to understanding you. Seeing this personal side."
"Personal?" Nicki yelled with ferocity.
Like a warning gunshot, Nicki's rising voice put me in my place. I shut the fuck up.
"Look, I know what you're saying, Rhonnie," Nicki continued, barely restraining her temper. "But don't try and twist this. I care about my family. I do, I love them."
"I know," I said. "I wasn't doubting that."
Lost in her memories, Nicki leaned back. More relaxed but just as troubled by the past. "When you’re working so much, you’re busy and you’re successful, no matter what, something suffers, you know." Her gaze shifted back toward all those notebooks. Her demented laboratory of a studio. "I guess you could say it's what happened to me and mom. To me and my whole family really."
Sympathetic, I dialed back my approach. "But you do talk to them still?" I asked in a calm tone.
"Oh, of course." Nicki's wistful face looked at me. "We're doing better now..." She hesitated.
I could tell this wasn't confident Nicki on stage or rapping in the studio. She was struggling.
"But there's some things I can't ever get back," Nicki said. "The touring and the studio kept me from those memories. Caiah's graduation, all the Birthdays. Christmas, Thanksgiving. Those are things I'll never get back." Her tormented stare struck harder than her most powerful verses.
"Fame eats it all away, Rhonnie."
From there, the conversation hit a light-hearted intermission. We made our way to Nicki's nicer memories. Nicki was quite the reader growing up. She described stories and books as an escape from the loneliness. How she would even pretend all these fictional characters were a part of her family. Of course, imagine how I felt when the Queen said my horror stories were her latest escape!
But Nicki's true love was obvious: acting. Just the way she reminisced about wanting to be a movie star radiated off her with child-like wonder. I could tell she was an aspiring actress trapped with a rapper's talent. Of course, Nicki had the theater training. The looks, the personality, the drive... the affinity for costume shops.
"Be the next Pam Grier," I encouraged her. "You've got that fire to you."
Nicki grinned. "You should write a role for me then."
After the interview, I took a long shower. Put on my big glasses. Even drunk, I wrote a little before calling Ash at midnight. She was encouraging as always. The motivational speaker to my dark mind.
"I can't wait to see you there," she said.
"Yeah, whenever we finish the interviews," I replied. "I don't know. Might be another month..."
"Naw, it'll be quicker than that!" Ash said with what I knew was an excited smile.
Over the phone, I kissed her good night. Then I was back at it on the laptop. Back in my own studio. One sentence into my Nicki notes before a catchy beat stopped me.
Club Staff was back. The cool chorus of "Bed" drifted into my room like mist. And Nicki's frenetic verse hit me like a hurricane.
Cracking a smile, I stumbled toward the hallway. And sure enough there were the colorful moving lights glowing under the club's door.
Fuck it. I was too tired to care. I wrote what I could then went to bed.
When I awoke and put on my glasses, my vision was crystal clear. Too clear.
Stunned, I snatched my glasses off. Yeah, they were large Buddy Holly glasses... but not the cheap Dahmer ones I had. The ones Ash hated. Instead, what I had was style. Purple frames. Clean, slick lenses. In other words, fucking expensiveass glasses. I looked all around me but didn't see my contacts case anywhere. Nor my Dahmers.
"You like the upgrade?" I heard Nicki tease.
I saw her enter the room. She wore glasses even bigger than mine. Her hair fixed up in a messy bun. Dressed in sloppy nerd attire, Nicki still managed to pull off the baggy jeans and bland red blouse. Somehow, her goofy charisma made the outfit look natural rather than tacky.
"I'm gone be like Ashley and keep improving you," she said.
"Naw, I appreciate it," I responded. "Ash would approve."
"Mm, they're sexy too!" Nicki's voice erupted in a fangirl tone.
Awkwardness sinking through me, I looked back at the nightstand. "But where'd my contacts go..."
Nicki glided toward me. Her walk all poise and pizzazz. "You don't need that shit anymore, Rhonnie."
I confronted her enchanting eyes. Her warm touch squeezed my shoulder.
"You look so nice with the glasses," Nicki added. Chuckling, she traced a pink painted fingernail over my frames. "Man, you got those looks and the smarts like me."
A goofy smile crossed my face. Maybe I blushed... "Well, thanks."
My morning ritual commenced. A light workout in those form-fitting clothes. The long shower. Nicki had already laid out a tie-die shirt and purple pants in the guest room. She even left a few beers.
Then us well-dressed nerds made our way into the recording studio. Nicki and I ready for the next interview. I kept going back to her geeky childhood. How timid Onika was growing up. A girl suppressed by both alienation and her own volatile family. There were the many phases and personalities Nicki's creativity conjured up to deal with the isolation. Not to mention the acting, poetry, storytelling. And ultimately, the rapping.
"That was all I had," Nicki said. "The writing kept me going through everything. It kept me strong."
I offered a warm smile. "I understand."
"Oh, I know you do." Contemplative, Nicki hesitated. "When I was a kid, I used to pretend all the books I read were real. Like all the characters." Even behind the huge glasses, I could see she was suppressing teas in those soulful eyes. "I guess that carried over into my writing. To Roman and Black Barbie, they were just more characters. They became my friends."
"Spoken like a true writer," I said.
"Well, the reading helps too," Nicki commented. "Like I said, that's how I got so interested in you. Your stories just like immerse me..." Her voice trailed off in a stream of solemn reflection. "I mean even when I became famous and made all this money, the loneliness. It never really goes away. And there's so many days where I don't feel special. I don't feel pretty or smart or creative..." She let out a soft chuckle. "And your stories help me escape that. They're amazing."
Flattered, I nodded. "Thanks."
"Chun-Li" interrupted the interview. Not even the studio was safe from Club Cookie...
Nicki's snorting cackle erupted over the music. A nerdy laugh to match the ridiculous gear.
I couldn't help but smile. "Well. Your staff's still here."
"I bet Kellan made them turn it up."
"So all they play is your songs?"
With the laid-back coolness of a defiant rock star, Nicki shrugged her shoulders. "Can you blame them?"
In an unrelenting beat, the music only helped propel our interview. The mood got light and carefree. A few drinks and guest appearances from Kellan didn't hurt the laid-back atmosphere either.
Nicki's quirkiness was the side people never saw. Or the side they chose to ignore. Besides the crazed Roman and this nerdy Nicki performance, there was also charitable Nicki. The Nicki Minaj who helped in raising $250 million for MAC AIDS Funds.
"You knew about that?" Nicki asked, her smile unable to hide how impressed she was.
"Yeah, I did my research," I responded.
"Well, yeah." She leaned back. "Just no one ever talks about that. Even when I'd like people to know I care, you know. That I do try to help and give back."
After the interview, we did more of the same: drinking and debauchery in the Queen's palace. Club Staff's playlist accelerated along with our alcohol intake. Together, the power trio of me, Nicki, and Kellan jammed out like college roommates in a Beverly Hills mansion.
Soon, my buzz spiraled into a swirling haze. I collapsed on a living room couch. Nicki sat right beside me while a laughing Kellan stumbled in a recliner. The last thing I remembered was Nicki's playful smile. How her light touch latched on to my arm. And then my eyes closed.
Sunlight splashed across me like a bucket of water. Groggy, I awoke in the guest room. I still don't know how I ever got there. Nor do I know how my clothes mysteriously changed into a tank top and a new pair of boxers overnight... I heard more Nicki tunes drifting in from Club Staff.
The Queen's ferocious flow on "Feeling Myself" enrapturing my ears, I reached over and grabbed the purple glasses. I snatched my cell phone. 8 A.M. And seven missed calls from Ashley.
"Fuck!" I yelled. Frantic, I got ready to call her back.
A harsh grip ensnared my wrist.
"Rhonnie!" Nicki's ferocious voice screamed. "We've got work to do!"
I faced her focused stare. Now Nicki was in tomboy mode. Pure defiance. She wore an oversized black Ramones tee shirt and loose, holey dark jeans. Her hair was straightened and stringy. Less stylish than usual... but still oh so attractive.
"That means no calling your girl!" she continued.
With blazing speed, Nicki snatched my phone. Her clenched hand a bear trap. "We've got an interview, remember."
"I was just gonna call Ash," I said.
"So!" Nicki yelled. Like a baton, she wielded the iPhone in my face. "You think I've been talking to Kenneth this whole time! No, motherfucker! I'm taking this serious. I cut off everyone to focus and I expect you to do the same!"
Uneasy, I backed off. "Okay..."
Nicki pointed toward the closet. "Now go change and get your workout on! You know the damn drill!"
Indeed, I did. I changed quick into those tight shorts. Then I hit the gym hard. The entire Queen album played from the staff room.
The treadmill and crunches left me sweaty. Almost delirious, I staggered around the room. Surrounded by nothing but my exhausted reflection. And Nicki's music.
I finished off a Gatorade in a few swigs. Tired, I approached the flatscreen. My finger stumbled through the buttons.
The screen shifted from MLB Network to a different feed. I'd hit the input button on accident... and what I saw now was live footage from Nicki's palace. From my gym.
The video was clear as day. A home movie in high definition. And there I was on screen: walking the treadmill, doing my sit-ups and stretches. All in those flattering pants. I gotta say that even drenched in sweat, I looked pretty damn hot. But I was the oblivious star of Nicki's private movie. And who the Hell knows what she was using it for... or just how many videos she had of me.
I was too scared to explore this feed any further. Nervous, I turned off the T.V. And with restless eyes, I scanned the workout room. But I saw no cameras. No glowing red lights. I was alone.
I decided to play it cool. Not that I had much choice with no cell phone or weapon. And this far away from home. There was no sense in arguing in Nicki's arena. Just get the interviews done and see where it goes from there, I told myself.
Link To Part Two