In a manicured cul-de-sac in LA’s Baldwin Hills, Nicki Minaj’s matte black Maybach lurks in the shimmering heat – doors flung open to let the still air circulate and privacy curtains pulled back. The $500,000 car cuts an imposing silhouette against the mid-century home where its owner is posing for today’s shoot. In the driveway, her personal chauffeur, bodyguard and day-to-day manager keep watch, hovering patiently while Minaj acts the suburban housewife inside.
Ripping off yellow rubber gloves in order to slip into a Balmain two-piece, Minaj insists the scenario isn’t quite the American daydream that it seems. “I’m in a surreal world, but I’m so normal in it,” she says, striding across the yard in gold Giuseppe Zanotti heels. “Most people that I know in the industry have maids, housekeepers, ten bodyguards and a masseuse with them at all times. Everyone around me is like, ‘You’re so much more low-key than I thought!’ But I don’t like going out, I don’t like crowds, I don’t like clubs. If I do have downtime, I prefer to be in the house cooking West Indian food and watching my DVR.”