“We’re not used to sort of being dragged into any drama, but I think we just wanted to make sure that if our name is brought up in anything, that it was all factual and right,” Jade Thirlwall tells Us Weekly exclusively.
The drama began in October when Cardi, 26, claimed in a series of 10 Instagram videos that Little Mix only recorded “Woman Like Me” with Minaj, 35, because she passed on being featured in the song. (The rappers got into a fight at a New York Fashion Week party a month earlier.)
“I had to decline it because I’ve got a lot of pop records, so I can’t over-exaggerate myself,” the “I Like It” MC told her followers. “But that came to me first, and then they gave it to you [Minaj].”
Little Mix quickly denied Cardi’s claims in a statement posted on the group’s Twitter account: “We love and respect both Nicki and Cardi B. Both were approached by our label to work with us on Woman Like Me, Nicki then Cardi. We went with Nicki because like we’ve said over and over for years, it’s been a dream of ours to work with her since the beginning. We have nothing but love and positivity for both Nicki and Cardi.”
The X Factor U.K. season 8 winners later wrote on Instagram, “Sorry Cardi hun but this is the [tea]. We’ve always wanted the queen. (No shade).”
According to Thirlwall, 25, her bandmates Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jesy Nelson simply decided to speak up to set the record straight.
“That doesn’t mean to say we don’t respect both Nicki and Cardi,” the singer explains to Us. “Like, we love Cardi B. We always listen to her albums. We love her music. I think it was just about getting the facts out there and respecting both people. And, obviously, we love Nicki to pieces. She’s the one that sort of gave us such a platform. Like, she’s really helped us by being in our song.”
In the end, “Woman Like Me” proved to be a success. The music video currently has more than 46.5 million views on YouTube.
“For seven years, [we have] been asking to have Nicki Minaj on a song, so it felt like Christmas came early when she finally said yes. She really liked the song,” Thirlwall tells Us. “I guess we, us four girls, really put our foot down and said we have to have Nicki on this song, and we made it happen. And she’s been incredible. She’s been so supportive on social media. She was the one who invited us to perform at the EMAs. … She’s literally been a dream, an absolute dream, to work with.”
Little Mix’s new album, LM5, drops on Friday, November 16.
With reporting by Sharon Tharp