By now, we’ve heard that Nicki Minaj fired her styling team and is trying to simplify. So it makes sense that she’d agree to a stripped-down Elle cover, to show you a different side of herself.
And I actually think it’s a great idea. If the goal of a magazine cover is to attract people to it on the newsstand, then you want to grab them with something they haven’t seen before in a hundred other magazines. As long as your cover subject doesn’t look like somebody else entirely, I think it’s cool to make them look like a dramatic and different version of themselves as long as that self shines through enough to be identifiable. So, don’t put Nicki Minaj on the cover and jack with her face so that she looks like Beyonce or whatever, but do put Nicki Minaj on the cover and turn her into a gritty biker.
So at least this catches the eye. A photo of Nicki Minaj dressed exactly like Nicki Minaj always dresses would make me skip right over it, because I am bored of that whole shtick; this one, though, makes me want to open the issue and poke around and see what else there is. I love getting to see her face without all her marketing plastered all over it, you know? But at the same time, does she have to look so refried? Her hair comes off so wet and lank — I almost wish they’d slicked it back entirely, so even more of her face was carrying the cover — and I really don’t know why her mouth is hanging open, unless she studied for this shoot by memorizing photos of Jessica Simpson hawking perfume and shoes and booty shorts and whatever else she sells. Somehow J.Lo manages to make parted lips look less like she’s purring and/or recovering from the flu; of all the once-and-future reality show judges to copy, J.Simp is the wrong J.