Nicki Minaj Tosses the Makeup on the April Cover of Elle
ELLE; Thomas Whiteside

Usually costumed, Nicki dresses down and reveals plenty about herself in the latest issue of Elle.

Nicki Minaj rocks a sultry look on the April cover of Elle Magazine. We're not used to seeing Minaj so dressed down. Where did the bright pink lipstick and leopard tights go? And what about the flamboyant rainbow colored wigs and captain hats? We are in style shock.

However, we aren’t the only ones surprised at the neutral cover image. “When I saw myself with barely any makeup at, it was such a… like, I’m so, so attached to my pink lipstick, it’s hard. I felt naked,” Nicki told Elle about the dramatic make-under. “It was scary! So this photo shoot was a real accomplishment in my eyes.”

Photographed by Thomas Whiteside and styled by Joe Zee, the “Starships” singer flashes some cleavage on the April cover in a Tom Ford black leather jacket with bondage like strap sleeves. As for makeup, Minaj is rocking little to none and a “just got out of the shower” wet look for her hairstyle. Her sleek look continued in the mag with Minaj sporting modern looks like a Jeremy Scott for Adidas bathing suit, black Ferragamo leather trousers, and a bustier made of rope.

Minaj seems to be flying high -- topping music charts, judging “American Idol,” creating fembot looking perfumes, and now rocking a fresh face on the cover of Elle. What more can a girl ask for? 

But life wasn’t always so sexy and fun for Nicki. Inside the magazine the rapper opens up about facing childhood bullies and catty girls that tried to bring her down. “I went through a lot of bullying early on,” she says. “Girls made my life a living hell. I’ve always put up this wall -- it was a self-defense mechanism growing up -- because I was almost expecting people to attack me. And I still have it. It’s sad.”

Now with all the drama and bullying behind her, Minaj is building her brand and ruling the world. “My goal in the beginning was to buy my mother a house,” she told the magazine.  “Now I realize, ‘Okay, if I really focus and become a key player in business, then I can build an empire.’ I’m thinking of a legacy that I can be proud of and wealth that my grandchildren can use to go to college. So world domination, in terms of providing for my family, is absolutely my goal.”

The April issue hits newsstands nationwide on March 26. What do you think of Nicki’s new subtle look?