Nicki Minaj takes the cover of V‘s spring issue, and inside she describes the creative control tug-of-war that comes along with being a female artist.

“In the beginning I felt very controlled,” she said. “When you’re a new artist–especially when you’re female–everyone thinks they know everything. Everybody wants to be Daddy and feel some empowerment or joy when they can tell a female what to do. All girls are multifaceted, but women artists stifle themselves, or are stifled by others who tell them that you can only be one thing and you can’t change from that thing–that’s all you are. Starting out I can’t remember what it was that I had to look like per se, but I felt boxed in.”

Although the Young Money artist said she sometimes has to struggle for control of her public behavior and image, she refuses to become a corporate product because she wants to maintain a genuine relationship with her fans, whom she calls Barbs and Ken Barbs, the latter of which represent her gay fanbase.

“We’ve become a little family now,” she said of her fans. “My hard-core fans know that everything I do has been approved by me personally. That’s very important to me–and to them. Even though my team is mostly made up of guys, none of them would ever think about telling me what to wear or what to do with my hair. I ask for my team’s opinion, but they know that ultimately, I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do.”

Minaj is currently overseas promoting her debut album Pink Friday.