bi the way

Did Rapper Nicki Minaj Go Back in the Closet, Or Is Multiple Identities Her Shtick?

Vanessa Carlton comes out as bi. That Real Housewives chick lets everyone think she’s a lesbian. But Nicki Minaj, the bisexual Queens rapper, is ditching her queer status and re-branding herself as straight?

Minaj has made no secret of her lady-loving ways, but in a new interview with Black Men magazine, she says, “I don’t date women and I don’t have sex with women. That’s, of course, until Cassie comes available.” Well that’s news. Or maybe Minaj only has the hots for ladies named Cassie?

In her song “Lil’ Freak” with Usher, the blog AfterEllen skims the lyrics:

Excuse me little mama / But you could say I’m on duty / I’m lookin for a cutie /A real big ol’ ghetto booty /I really like your kitty cat / and if you let me touch her / I know you’re not a bluffer / I’ll take you to go see usher / I keep a couple hoes / like Santa I keep a Vixen / Got that Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, / Dixon, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen. / I’m hotter than 100 degrees / A lotta bread no sesame seeds / If I’m in yo city / I’m signin’ them tig-o-bitties / I’m plotting on how I can take Cassie away from Diddy / The girls want a Minaj yeah they wetter than a rainman / Usher buzz me in / Everybody loves Raymond

It’s hard to keep track of which sexuality Minaj is identifying with, because it swaps in and out so effortlessly. But maybe Slate‘s Jonah Weiner captured the real essence of Minaj: She is full of contradictions, and pushing different versions of her self is, in fact, who she is.

In several songs, rapper Nicki Minaj describes herself as a proud bisexual—she has a special weakness, we learn, for ample-bottomed girls. In others, she is defiantly straight: insisting that she prefers men, dropping “no homo” disclaimers to drive the point home. In “Brrraaattt,” she plays a thug, firing semiautomatic weapons at her rivals. In “Cuchi Shop,” she plays a madam in charge of a stable of prostitutes. In interviews, she announces herself as a would-be role model for young girls. She says she’s from Queens, N.Y., but in several songs she slips into accents that suggest she’s from England or perhaps the San Fernando Valley. On one song, a 2008 mix-tape track called “Autobiography,” she seemed to imply that her father had killed her mother—an interpretation that has circulated on message boards, although she has since mentioned her perfectly alive mom in interviews. At the song’s start, she identifies herself as Nicki Maraj, pronounced mirage. It’s tempting to read into the moniker some acknowledgment that, with this MC, things aren’t always what they seem. Except it turns out that Maraj is the surname she was born with. Or is it? Who are we talking about again?

Playing straight lets Minaj battle with gals like Lil’ Kim. Playing bi amps up her mystique. And jumping between the two possibilities makes her worth talking about. Mission accomplished?