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WATCH: Nicki Minaj answers Vogue’s 73 Questions

If you meet Nicki Minaj and ask her how she is—assuming she’s actually expecting you—you might just be lucky enough to be greeted with an “I’m blessed, and you?” After years of urging from the Barbz, Vogue recently caught up with the rapper at a recording studio in Malibu, where she puts most of her lyrics together, and offered some insight into a typical day at work for her. “I tend to listen to the beat, then I get a vibe for it, and if it’s something I love, then I go on the mic.” (If you ask really nicely, Minaj might even freestyle a rap about a certain Vogue editor-in-chief…but she’ll have to be in the right mood.)

As Minaj takes Vogue on a quick tour, she reminisces about some of her favorite musical collaborators and explains why she called her first album Pink Friday. As she steps outside to enjoy the fresh air, Minaj also recalls an era when things weren’t quite so glam for her, describing what it felt like to “constantly have to wash your clothes because they smell like Red Lobster.” (Before making music, Minaj worked as a server, a customer service rep, a telemarketer, a receptionist and…a fire extinguisher saleswoman?)

“The image of Salt-N-Pepa was really cemented into my psyche at one point,” Minaj remembers fondly when asked about her lifelong style and music inspirations, the sun reflecting off the ocean behind the building. And her tips for doing a perfect cat-eye double as solid life advice: “You can’t be nervous, you can’t be late—you have to be very calm—and you have to think angle and sharp.”

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