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.
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.
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.
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.
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’ Soundtrack | Tove Lo, Kiesza, & Nick Jonas | Taylor Swift | Barbra Streisand | Weird Al Yankovic | Ed Sheeran & Charli XCX | Nicki Minaj | ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Soundtrack | Enrique Iglesias | Kacey Musgraves | Santana | Sam Smith | Iggy Azalea | Jason Derulo | Meghan Trainor, Nico & Vinz
This article first appeared in the Dec. 20 issue of Billboard.