On Sunday night, MTV aired its Nicki Minaj documentary My Time Again, the follow-up to 2010's My Time Now, which we all remember as the origin of her infamous pickle-juice snub and bitch-versus-boss analogy. Back then, in that special, she came across tough and guarded, and (to us) the extent of her relationship with her then-boyfriend Safaree Samuels was basically "that guy."
It's now roughly four years later and she's written songs about him for her most conversational album (The Pinkprint), while he's spoken publicly about their breakup. So the one-hour documentary My Time Again continues this narrative of Nicki Minaj laying bare, which as an unintentional-intentional marketing strategy has been working. In last night's special, she cried openly while speaking on her family and relationships, but the biggest choke-up moment is when she's in the studio listening back to "The Crying Game," a post-breakup anthem where she raps about emotional abuse and "slamming doors and dishes." Seeing her in a fetal-curl, crying alone on a couch, made me think of how few times we've really witnessed a female artist as big as Minaj (I immediately thought of Beyoncé) cry in a genuinely sad moment or seen a personality as big as hers explain the difficulty of maintaining a great love.
During that scene, an off-screen producer asks Minaj about her lowest point while making The Pinkprint and she alludes to the end of her 11-year-relationship with Safaree. "Sometimes when things are difficult, we try not to see them. But I'm learning how to face reality," she says. "I didn't know that when I set out to make this album that it would entail an emotional rollercoaster in my own real life." She mentions his proposal to her—"I always told him, you know what, let's hold off"—and how much he changed. "This business changed the people that I really loved and it's, like, scary," she says. "They start worshipping material things and forgetting about just good old-fashioned love and trust and stuff like that."
Another tearful moment takes place in the car as she's on the way to visit her friends and family in her (and my!) hometown of Jamaica, Queens. Frustrated with her busy schedule, she mentions only seeing relatives four or five times a year: "What is this all for if I'm not with the people who I care about the most?" If she could completely forego all press, she would. She'll probably get to a point (a la Beyoncé) where interviews will be unnecessary but not yet. Later, after a few scenes of her playing cards with her best friend's family and visiting her old nail shop, she cries again while remembering her abortion, which she raps about on "All Things Go," a song I prematurely dismissed.
Again, as much as this new personal backdrop is being served to us dangling on a heartstring, she's giving some cool, very public moments of truth right now about the demands of a powerful woman, however you decide to dissect it. Minaj says about her pregnancy, "I just had a terrible mistake. We had to pay for that... I understand that some women have children earlier and feel like that's their destiny, but I always feel like my destiny was to be accomplished in my career first and then have children."
The noticeable difference from part one of this documentary is the lack of Safaree's presence. The 2010 version opened with Minaj, wearing a Pepto pink wig, in awe that her debut album, Pink Friday, had shot to No. 4 on Amazon. Safaree was there, supportive and encouraging her to be boastful: "No. 4? You were just 508," he said. He was again right next to her, finishing her thoughts as she railed about the double standards of the music industry. "You have to be, like a beast. You have to be a beast. That's the only way they respect you," she said.
In My Time Again, early on in the special, Minaj is seen rehearsing for the MTV VMAs with her dancers and Casper Smart (who's attributed as her creative director and choreographer but who will forever be known as J. Lo's ex). They're all reminiscing about their younger days working at restaurants. Safaree is there for a few brief minutes. As Minaj talks about her experience at Red Lobster, he hovers around their circle and then he's gone.
Images via screenshot/MTV