Ellen von UnwerthNormani took the internet by storm when she released the dance-heavy, early 2000s-inspired video for her song “Motivation.” It was not only a celebration of her childhood inspirations, it was meant to be a celebration of her culture as well.

“I told the director, ‘I want this to be as black as possible,’” Normani tells Cosmopolitan in a new December/January cover story. “I was like, let’s show black culture. Why does pop music have to be so white? Why don’t we make it a little bit more me?”

Normani’s aim as a solo artist is to represent her culture in everything she does. “I’m gonna make whatever I do black,” she says. “You’ll know that I’m a black girl, even if it’s on the quote-unquote whitest record ever.”

This approach is not only resonating with fans, but with the artists who came before her. Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé are all Normani stans. Normani reveals Beyoncé and Jay-Z contacted her privately to say “how much they want me to win.”

“Those women before me, I wanna finish what they started,” Normani says.

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