Nicki Minaj helped James Corden’s popular Carpool Karaoke series make its post-pandemic comeback on Wednesday night (April 6). While the Queen rapper belted out songs like “Anaconda,” Adele’s “Someone Like You” and her classic verse on Kanye West‘s “Monster,” the episode contained an unexpectedly vulnerable moment.
Toward the end of the extended 17-minute YouTube version, Young Money’s First Lady admitted she has privately struggled with anxiety since catapulting to fame over a decade ago.
Nicki Minaj began by revealing she likes to chew ice cubes as a way to cope with stress and anxiety in her day-to-day life. “Every time I’m biting the ice, it’s like taking out the anxiety, like ‘Urghhh!’” she explained after Corden enquired about her unusual habit.
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Nicki then delved deeper into the source of her anxiety, pointing to the constant scrutiny and criticism she faces as a woman in the public eye.
“I think when I was younger, probably, my natural state was to be more confident,” she said. “But I think when you’re a woman and you’re in the public eye all the time, if you’re not careful, you can become less confident because you’re being constantly scrutinized.”
She continued, “I don’t think it’s natural. It’s not natural for a human being to always feel like everyone’s critiquing them. When I first came into the industry, I had this amazing sense of freedom, because nobody gave a shit about what I was doing. I could get away with doing anything and they’re just like, ‘Oh, haha! Nicki Minaj!’
“And then it goes from that to the complete opposite where it’s like, if I blink my eye wrong they’ll have a story made up about why I’ve blinked my eye that way.”
Despite the toll her enormous fame takes on her mental health, Nicki Minaj said staying off social media and spending time with her 1-year-old son, affectionately known as “Papa Bear,” bring her clarity and happiness.
“Whenever I am off of social media and I take that shit off my phone, I have this enormous sense of peace,” she revealed. “And then you realize what really matters; the things that you’re thinking about or worrying about, you’re like, ‘Who cares?!’
“[Being a mother] plays a huge part because I don’t care what could be going on, what texts just came through my phone or what I saw on the Internet — when I look at my son I’m just magically in love! He just makes me laugh, makes me smile, makes me happy. He’s just so cute and cuddly.”
Elsewhere in the Carpool Karaoke episode, Nicki Minaj showed off a secret musical talent that some of her fans may not know about. At the 10:40-minute mark, the Queens, New York native pulled out a clarinet and reacquainted herself with the instrument she learned growing up.
Even though it had been years since she last played, Nicki impressed James Corden by playing the notes from the famous Jaws theme song. Watch the episode in full above.