Year In Music 2014

Billboard Year in Music 2014: Nicki Minaj on Getting Sir Mix-A-Lot's Blessing for 'Anaconda'

Brian Bowen Smith

Alex “Grizz” Loucas, Oscar James, Mylah Morales, Gee Roberson, Nicki Minaj, Kate Rosen, Sherika Roach and Rushka Bergman photographed by Brian Bowen Smith on October 7th at Siren Studios in Los Angeles.

The Rap Diva
6 Weeks on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs

Putting a fresh spin on a classic isn't always a slam-dunk. But letting Nicki Minaj, 32, cut loose on Sir Mix-A-Lot's 1992 anatomy anthem "Baby Got Back" was a no-brainer. Displaying her ample talents -- as well as a more natural look -- Minaj rode her "Anaconda" to the top of the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for a six-week reign.

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Nicki Minaj: I invited two of my best friends to the studio. I wanted to see their natural reactions to the song. And just the way they started this organic bopping, grooving on some playful girl stuff, I thought, "OK, they feel like I feel, so I'm not crazy."

Gee Roberson, co-manager, The Blueprint Group: Nicki and I were in the studio when [producer] Polow Da Don sent an email of tracks. She pressed play and we both looked at each other like, "OMG, this could be something." She brought in [production duo] Da Internz, who helped bring the song to a whole other place.

Nicki Minaj: The Billboard Cover Shoot

Minaj: I specifically wrote the verses in a very sing-along way. No matter how raunchy it is, it's still playful. The sample was already such a classic in hip-hop; it's scary to touch a classic. But Sir Mix-A-Lot gave me his blessing. He was like, "If anyone can do it, it's you."



Mylah Morales, makeup artist: For the video, I wanted to take her look to the next level: clean and classy so we can see her true beauty.

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Oscar James, hair stylist: I usually plan what I'm going to do by what Nicki's wearing and her input as well. She has a great eye and knows what looks good on her. She's a closet hairdresser herself.

Rushka Bergman, creative director/stylist: Clothes need to fit and sculpt the body while suiting the person's character. Nicki's powerful music naturally evokes a strong, classic, sexy, feminine and modern style.

Nicki Minaj Reacts to Ellen DeGeneres' 'Anaconda' Video

Minaj: We shot the video before the song even came out. Everyone had been listening to it all day and didn't get tired of it. If a song gives you a euphoric feeling, it's usually a hit.

2014's No. 1's: J Balvin & Farruko  | Idina Menzel & the 'Frozen' SoundtrackTove Lo, Kiesza, & Nick Jonas | Taylor Swift | Barbra Streisand | Weird Al Yankovic | Ed Sheeran & Charli XCX | Nicki Minaj | 'Guardians of the Galaxy' SoundtrackEnrique Iglesias | Kacey Musgraves | Santana | Sam SmithIggy Azalea | Jason Derulo | Meghan Trainor, Nico & Vinz

This article first appeared in the Dec. 20 issue of Billboard.