Young Money artists Shanell aka SNL, and Nicki Minaj are definitely two of the hottest chicks in the game! They sit down and discuss their ambitions in the music industry, Working with Lil Wayne, Being on the Young Money Ent Tour, and More. Really good interview read below!
SNL, who is the sister of ex-Danity Kane member Wanita “D. Woods” Woodgette, co-wrote Weezy’s first single, Prom Queen, from his often-delayed Rebirth album. The uber-talented triple-threat performer is currently prepping the release of her still untitled, solo opus, which has already been introduced by the set’s lead offering(s), Play In My Band, which also sports an appearance by Weezy F. Baby, b/w the Aubrey O’Day, also formerly of DK, featured, Eddie Murphy remake, Party All The Time.
Yo! Raps caught up with both ladies while they were out on the road trekking the country with Lil Wayne on his super-successful America’s Most Wanted Tour…
When did you all first discover your love for music?
SNL: As long as I can remember. I’ve always loved music.
Nicki Minaj: I’ve always loved music. My mother sang all the time when I was little. I loved singing as well. Eventually, the bad girl in me began to surface, I guess, and then rapping became my thang.
So, who else influenced you all to do what you love to do, which is perform music?
SNL: I listened to some of everything. Some of my influences are Lil Kim, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Wu-Tang Clan.
Nicki Minaj: LL Cool J, Salt-N-Pepa, DMX, Jay-Z, Lil Kim, Foxy Brown.
Are they specifically the reason as to why you all opted for a career in it?
SNL: I didn’t decide — It chose me!
Nicki Minaj: When people started telling me I was good. Prior to that, I was rapping to be funny — Free-styling and making beats on the lunchroom table kinda thing. Eventually, I started believing my own hype and being a businesswoman, I thought why not take it all the way and put some money in my pocket from it?
Makes sense! You are both now signed to Lil Wayne’s Young Money imprint — How did this unification come to fruition?
SNL: Wayne and I always collaborated on various projects; from writing and dancing, to being in a group with him and Mack Maine.
Nicki Minaj: Wayne believed in me since the first time he saw me rapping on a DVD. The rest came to fruition with my hard work and dedication. I proved to him I was worth it.
How would you best describe what it is that you all are bringing to the Young Money family?
SNL: It’s a fusion of genres; from Rock, to Rap, to Pop like there was in the ’80’s.
Nicki Minaj: It’s swag, skill, and sex — Put them all together, you’ve got my style. It’s swagged out, female empowerment, Barbie boom-box music!
Take me through a typical session when you all are penning your lyrics…
SNL: I draw from the sounds in the production and how they make me feel.
Nicki Minaj: I usually write when I’m in a good mood — It just flows. I think I draw the inspiration from the person inside of me — She’s a superstar! People just don’t know it yet.
In terms of production, who have you all worked with so far?
SNL: I create my own music from start to finish. Bangladesh, Maestro, Catalyst, Keyes, Willy Will, Soundz, Wayne, (and) The Girls Club are some of my partners in crime.
Nicki Minaj: I’d love to work with Polow Da Don, Swizz Beatz, Missy Elliott, Timbaland, just to name a few.
What plans do you all have for sticking around in music?
SNL: If I told you, I’d have to kill you! [Laughs]
Nicki Minaj: I think the key to my success so far has been taking risks. I did over Biggie’s songs for God sakes! That takes guts, ya know? Thinking outside the box! My sense of humor will keep sustaining me. I can find humor in just about anything, but I’m still a boss +!@#$!
I understand that music isn’t your only aspiration…
SNL: For those who don’t know, I consider myself an all-around entertainer. So, I think all art forms blend together.
Nicki Minaj: I studied acting for four years. You’ll see me on the big screen very, very soon! I want to be the Martha Stewart/Bill Gates/Jay-Z/Oprah Winfrey of Barbies all over the world!
Those are some pretty big shoes to fill! So, on a more serious note, are you all happy with the current state of Hip-Hop music?
SNL: No. I’m only being honest. I haven’t felt the rush to run and pick up somebody’s album in a long time.
Nicki Minaj: Yes, I am happy with it, but it needs me! I love where it’s at.
What about the business side of it all, especially with the vast amount of illegal file sharing, bootlegging, and downloading that’s been going on?
SNL: Of course I don’t agree with it or like it, but this isn’t just a business for me. It’s what I’m here to do regardless of all of that.
Since everyone either knows you all already, or will become familiar with you, for and through your music, what would you want these same people to know about the two of you that they won’t get from listening to your record(s)?
SNL: It’s all about what they get out of my music.
Nicki Minaj: I want people to know that I’ve overcome a lot to be where I am, and I know I still have a long way to go. I grew up in an extremely dysfunctional home, and made it out the wreckage. What you see is a success story — Nothing short of a miracle.
What would these same people find you all doing in your off/spare time completely away from the music?
SNL: Once again, if I tell you I’d have to kill you [laughs].
Nicki Minaj: Having great sex! (Laughs]
You all have been out on Wayne’s America’s Most Wanted Tour — For someone who hasn’t experienced you all performing live, what would you tell that person can be expected?
SNL: I would just tell them to “shut up and listen!”
Nicki Minaj: I’m on the road looking for a few bad +!@#$es! Step ya +!@#$ up!
Aside from your solo efforts, what else can the masses look forward to from Shanell, Nicki and/or Young Moola? Is there a compilation project still in the works?
SNL: Yes, I’m working on albums for Young Money, Lil Wayne’s Rebirth, Ludacris, Mika Means, and more you will find out about soon!
So, is there anything else I left out that you’d like to report before you go?
SNL: Come see me on the America’s Most Wanted Tour! The show is amazing, and you can also see me performing my new song Play In My Band. We will be coming to a city near you…soon! There’s also a contest for fans to win backstage passes, so check out: www.myspace.com/snlent for more info. And, follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/shanell_snl — You never know where it will take you!
What’s it been like working with arguably the “Greatest Rapper Alive?” And, how much of an inspiration has Weezy directly been when it comes to your career in music?
Nicki Minaj: He has to be one of my biggest, if not my biggest, influences. I admire his work ethic.
Working with him so closely, what have you learned? And, how much has Wayne taught you about the music industry?
Nicki Minaj: He inspires me to outwork everyone in my lane. He has taught me to aim for the top.
Have you titled your forthcoming Young Money, solo debut yet?
Nicki Minaj: Nope! It’ll come…! It’ll come to me when I least expect it.
Predicting, what will your future bring?
Nicki Minaj: I see myself somewhere tanning on a yacht, and being rich!
Do you have any final thoughts?
Nicki Minaj: Thank you for the interview. Shout out to all my supporters! Shout-out to Young Money! I’m-ma bring home that gold medal, y’all!