Nicki Minaj‘s latest album, Pink Friday 2, became a certified hit on the Billboard 200 following its release in December, spawning several fan-favorite tracks like “Everybody (feat. Lil Uzi Vert)” and “Needle (feat. Drake).” The album, however, opened up with the emotive track “Are You Gone Already,” which Minaj explained in her Thursday (Jan. 4) interview with Apple Music was inspired by the sudden loss of her father in 2021.
“My father had just passed. So right after I had the baby, and it was during Corona [the pandemic], and nobody knew what was going on, so, one day, I was rocking the baby and I don’t normally have the phone on me when I’m rocking him,” she told Ebro.
Minaj continued, “But that day, as I’m rocking him, the phone rings, and I see it’s my father. … I picked up, he was very happy, and he was like, ‘Baby, I could come on Monday.’ Because he had been waiting to be able to come to Cali to help me. I kept on saying, ‘Come on out.’ He wasn’t really happy, but I knew that when he came to be with us, we were going to be happy.”
Later that night, the rapper explained, she woke to a phone call from her mother stating that her father had been killed in a hit-and-run car accident. Paralyzed by the news, Minaj fainted — “After I had my baby was the first time in my life that I ever fainted; I never knew what it felt like to faint” — and recalled that she had multiple dreams in the past about someone she loved getting into an accident, with one occurring just two days before her father died.
The grief Minaj experienced inspired the track, down to its title. She explained that while on the phone with him hours before the incident that claimed he life, she uttered the name of the track to him. “He was the happiest that I had heard him in a long time. … What was interesting, why I said, ‘Are you gone already?’ is because I knew he was gone already,” she said.
Elsewhere in the interview, Minaj spoke about working with Drake on “Needle” and noted that the track was initially meant to appear on For All the Dogs, but there was a change of plans.
“He told the fans at his tour that I was going to be on his album. And actually, the song he was talking about was ‘Needle,’” she explained. “But he ended up feeling like sonically it didn’t match For All the Dogs. And I, from day one, felt like it matched Pink Friday 2.”
While some fans were upset at the lack of Minaj on Drake’s record, she said the change “worked out for the best.”
Watch Nicki’s full interview with Ebro for Apple Music in the video above.