Forget about the press conferences of Katy Perry, David Archuleta, or even Justin Bieber. The press con of Nicki Minaj has got to be the strictest.
Held at the Diamond Hotel last July 11, it had two registration booths: one outside the hotel and another right outside the actual press con venue. When we got inside, one SVIP (Super Very Important Person)—a guy who resembles Akon and Brian McKnight combined (who shall be known as Akon McKnight from now on)—informed us that before answering questions from the press, Nicki would first have her one-on-one interviews with the TV shows—at the same room, in front of everyone. We were also informed that we couldn’t take photos because there’d be time for that later on. Bodyguards were scattered everywhere to make sure no one would get a snapshot of the star, even if it was just using a camera phone.
And so when the “Super Bass” pop star entered the room, silence—not camera clicks and flashes—welcomed her. Nicki looked fabulous in a white tank top, marbled print tights, and a studded pink baseball cap, but she seemed like a scared kitten as she timidly went onstage, took a seat, and started the series of TV interviews.
Later on, Tim Yap, who hosted the press con, mentioned that she probably had jet-lag, and Nicki shyly gestured in agreement.
It didn’t take a while though before Nicki finally warmed up, smiling and even laughing while doing the rest of her TV interviews. Meanwhile, Akon McKnight was making sure that no one was taking any snapshot of the star, giving those who would dare the look or, worse, a hand gesture. There was even one time he shushed a cameraman who was fixing his equipment and making not-so-distracting noise.
We eventually did get to hear Nicki answer some of the questions from the TV people. She shared how “Super Bass” was shot in Los Angeles and how fun it was; how much she adores Hawaii, where the music video for “Starships” was shot; and how she loves the weather in Manila. Someone also asked her about eating a balut, to which she said, “Duck egg?” Nicki Minaj’s eyes popped and she said with a smile, “I don’t think so.”
By the time it was the press people’s turn to ask questions, Nicki was clearly in a very good mood already, even asking a little boy to join her onstage for a photo op.
She was asked about the musicians she sang along to while growing up, and she shared that she used to “sing a lot of Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey” plus Luther Vandross and Diana Ross, and that she was a big fan of Jay-Z and Lauryn Hill when she started getting into rap.
Nicki was also asked if she had any knowledge of the Filipino culture prior to visiting the Philippines. She admitted that she doesn’t personally know any Filipino. “This is really my first time having any impression of the Filipino culture. I said ‘Filipino’ in a lot of my rap songs but I was just saying it. But so far, the people seem really, really warm and welcoming.” She added that the Filipinos remind her of the Japanese. “The people are just so sweet and warm and friendly and everyone is really, really nice.”
The rapper talked about Lil Wayne, who she considers both competition and a boss. “My relationship with Wayne has changed so much,” she said. “I guess we have a competition coz I just feel like he’s the best rapper ever—period, so I can never compare myself with him. We definitely have more of a peer relationship but I still respect him as a boss.”
Nicki was asked about her alter egos which she has given names like RomanZolanski and Harajuku Barbie.
She explained: “I started naming them because when I was going in the studio and I was using different voices people would think it was weird, so I would just name them so people won’t be confused.”
The most interesting bit, however, would have to be her beauty and self-esteem advice for her female fans. She said: “There is always someone out there that finds you attractive and most importantly, you have to find yourself attractive and you have to have confidence. And also to the younger girls, definitely 18 and younger, I don’t think that you should be trying to be attractive anyway. I think you should be going to school and getting your minds right and going to college. I love girls that are ambitious. I hate lazy people. I always give that advice to my Barbs. Focus on your future and all the beauty and all that stuff will come eventually and you’ll meet the right person.”
One highlight of the whole press con was singer Frencheska Farr’s “Party Pilipinas” moment. She did a supposed extemporaneous performance of “Super Bass,” after being asked by host Tim Yap to show everyone just how talented Filipinos are.
Guess it wasn’t the strictest press con, after all. Mark Sablan, contributor, Philippine Daily Inquirer