You’re a New Yorker, but people don’t think of you as a regional rapper, exactly. Maybe because you signed to [New Orleans-based] Cash Money. Do you consider yourself a New York rapper?
Definitely. The way I focus on metaphors and punchlines — that’s a very New York, Philly, East Coast thing. When I started, we were very battle-driven, so every line mattered. We had to try to destroy your life, and we were ruthless and very smart with wordplay. To make anything with a double meaning, you’ve got to be smart.
The end of the Obama era is approaching. Are there things about his presidency that have especially impressed you, or disappointed you?
I do want to speak about something specific, which just melted my heart. I thought it was so important when he went to prisons and spoke to people who got 20 and 30 and 40 and 50 years for drugs. There are women who are raped, people who are killed and [offenders] don’t even serve 20 years. I was blown away, watching the footage of him speaking to the prisoners. They never felt like anyone in the White House cared about them. I loved that he made them people again. Because we all make mistakes. I think about how many men may have made a mistake to feed their families and then had to pay for it forever.
What do you think of Hillary Clinton?
I support her as a woman. Am I convinced that she should be the next president? I still want to be open-minded about everyone. Obviously, I identify with her struggles as a woman. I identify with the fact that when she’s in that room and there are nothing but men there — there’s sometimes something in her that must feel intimidated. But I think that she uses that and turns it into a strength. Because that’s what I’ve always done. And so I love her for sticking it out. She has gone through horrifying things, even within her marriage. She has been brave and weathered the storm. And continued being a boss. That’s something that every woman should feel inspired by, no matter if you’re voting for her or not.
Do you miss New York?
I love it [in Los Angeles]. I spoke to Beyoncé about it, because she came out here recently too. She said exactly what I used to say when I first moved here. We just feel happier. She was saying that simple things that would normally feel like a task, they don’t [feel that way] out here. She told me it’s not bothersome to get up super early and have to take Blue to school, because it looks so beautiful. I’m a New Yorker, but there are times in New York when you wake up and it’s, like, a dreary day. I know my London fans can identify with this. When I’m in London or Paris, I think the same thing. Part of the beauty is in the grayness — but it’s an acquired taste.
You’re wearing a diamond on your ring finger.
Yeah. Meek gave me that.
Is it an engagement ring?
He and I are not engaged. But he said he would like to give me three rings before we get married. My birthday’s coming up, and he better get the new one, because he got [the first one] for my last birthday. So let’s see what happens.
You’re in a high-profile relationship. That presents some unique challenges. Is this something you and Meek discuss?
Yeah, we speak about it. We actually spoke with Jay Z and Beyoncé about it, too. After our show at [Brooklyn’s] Barclays Center [in October], we had dinner together. They were so giving with advice. I love them so much. It was just a beautiful conversation to have with people we love and we look up to as a couple. They’re so strong.
Is there anything you would care to share from that conversation?
I’d rather keep it private. I know Meek — he understood a couple things that I was explaining to him more when we spoke about it in front of them. We were all laughing so much. It was very late — you know when you get so tired, and it’s just like the giggles portion of the evening?
I don’t know what’s going to happen with he and I. I just know right now we are really, really enjoying each other’s company. So, shout out to everybody in the world that’s just trying to find love or be happy. Everybody should have someone to hold at night. It really, really changes your energy. I find that my energy is very different afterward — if I’m in the bed with him, just hugging him all day. It’s just, like, something about love. You transfer it. It’s infectious.
What is it like dating another rapper? Do you and Meek share works in progress? Will you spit bars at each other?
Meek doesn’t let me hear his music. Right now, he’s about to put out a mixtape, and I haven’t heard it. We laugh about this all the time. Just yesterday I was like, “Oh, am I going to get to come in and hear the secret music or not?” And he was like, “Not yet. It’s not done.” But I respect it because I’m an artist. I’m like that too.
Speaking of mixtapes, you began your career as a mixtape artist. Do you ever want to just release a mixtape and destroy the game?
I’ll definitely drop a mixtape. I have to.
You have to? Why?
Well, I want to touch a couple of beats that I wasn’t on. I could have bodied a lot of the records that came out in the last year. But the main thing is, I have to set an example for female rappers. I’m at the top of that food chain, and it’s important to lead by example. And because I came into the game doing mixtapes, I want to make sure women do not forget the importance of that grind, that walk up to the top. You can’t get there with a song. Because once that song is no longer hot, you’re no longer hot. It’s important that you are bigger than your music. Some fans are going to f— with me for the rest of my life because they know where I came from. Fans know my struggle. How hungry I was. That I was not settling, I was not giving up. I was on everybody’s beat. I was ruthless.