With her long-awaited fourth studio LP on the way, Nicki Minaj stars on the cover of the New York Times‘ T Magazine “Greats” issue. The Young Money Queen is one of eight figures who are masters in their respective fields, that the publication has chosen to shine the light on. In a conversation with writer Roxane Gay, Minaj speaks on her new album, having to prove herself as a lyricist, being free and inspired going into her new album and more.

Styled by Marie-Amélie Sauvé, the always fashionable Nicki is seen wearing pieces by Louis Vuitton, 3.1 Phillip Lim and Alaïa. Fans can get the issue when it hits newsstands on October 22, meanwhile read some excerpts from the full interview below.

Continue after the jump….

Nicki Minaj on her new album:
“Sonically, I know what the album’s about to sound like. I know what this album is gonna mean to my fans. This album is everything in my life coming full circle and me being truly, genuinely happy. It feels almost like a celebration. The last album, ‘The Pink Print,’ was almost like my diary, closing the chapter on certain things and not knowing if I was happy or sad about beginning new chapters. I was really writing about feeling unsure. Now, I can tell you guys what happened for the last two years of my life. I know who I am. I am getting Nicki Minaj figured out with this album and I’m loving her.”

On her freedom as an artist and her label:
“This is definitely the most inspired and free and excited I’ve been since I started releasing albums through a label,” she says. She is also deeply reflective about her evolution as an artist. I ask if the transition from making mixtapes to studio albums compromises the joy of creation and she answers, “Yeah, because … artists do it to themselves. I’m not going to blame a label. You just overthink. When you’re doing your own little thing, you feel like, I can be myself, I can be crazy. When you start working with a record company, you start thinking you need a bigger sound. I wanted to get back to the place where I wasn’t second-guessing things so much. Sometimes simple is O.K.”

Read the full interview here

Photo Credit: Patrick Demarchelier for New York Times

Previously: Nicki Minaj, Diddy, Run the Jewels & More Cover XXL’s 20th Anniversary Issues