The first rule of a Nicki Minaj interview is simple: do not ask about her ass. Although I’d intended to do no such thing, I find myself nodding in deference when warned against it by the 26-year-old rapper’s publicist while riding an elevator up to the 50th floor of Midtown Manhattan’s London hotel. “It won’t go over well,” she says as we approach the door to Minaj’s suite, which is flanked by three heavy-duty takeout bags from Red Lobster—evidence of a recent feast, and perhaps the secret to that globular, mythologized, and strictly off-limits derrière (an idea that wouldn’t have crossed my mind only moments ago). Her A&R coordinator, Safaree “Scaff Beezy” Samuels, alternately referred to by Minaj fans as her boyfriend, fiancé, best friend, brother, hypeman, and personal assistant, answers the door, then retreats to a nearby window, which he’s opened to expunge the smell of cigarette smoke wafting through the vents from a nearby suite. “She hates the smell of smoke,” he says.