Nicki Minaj aimed to break the internet this year with her “minaj-a-trois” revealing cover for Paper Magazine. No stranger to criticism, Nicki Minaj has constantly created discussion and debate with critics questioning her contribution to Hip Hop.
Criticism can help artists grow and improve if done constructively, however the abuse and bullying which Minaj receives often illustrates the hatred felt towards black women who own their sexuality. Having a big ass, bold personality, self-confidence and talking about sex are characteristics in which black women are encouraged to look down upon.
Nicki Minaj contributes to a culture in which women, especially black women are seen as sexual objects. However, it is about choice. Rap music is an extremely male dominated industry. In this context, It is unfair to completely overlook the resilience, determination and hardwork that Nicki Minaj brings to her career.
That being said, as a person who enjoys the occasional Nicki Minaj track I am not opposed seeing her adapt and try new things. This is not to say that my opinion is important, but that it would be interesting to see Nicki Minaj deliver a more raw, lyrical and traditional Hip Hop sound. I have nothing against the commercial route that Minaj has taken, however it risks undermining her contribution severely if she does not venture of out the mainstream style. I want to hear more about who Nicki Minaj is and what she has been through, as opposed to her looks, body or what she owns.
Through Rap and Hip Hop culture, a subgroup alienated and overlooked in society were able to become visible. The Hip Hop of today is extremely capitalist and this contributes to a culture where value is placed on everything you own. For many, old school Hip Hop brings nostalgia. Artists have the ability to express themselves in however they see suite. This is especially necessary for black female artists who are constantly policed. However, it is sad that a genre with an origin in protest and politics encourages its listeners to conform.
There is more to life then looking “bad and boujee” or being able to finally afford “bloody shoes”. This is however a criticism which should be focused on the majority of new age rappers, especially black male Rap artists. Being a black woman appears to play a key role in why this frustration is directed completely at Nicki Minaj and her career.
At least Nicki Minaj can Rap. No, she does not follow the mold of old school Hip Hop in spitting about real issues. But why is her credibility undermined by her constant flash of money, sex and commercialism when that is what everyone else is doing. 2017 Nicki does not have the best lyrics, however why are we not calling out male rappers who need to step their music quality up? Why are we praising Cardi B for the same things that we are bashing Nicki Minaj for?
Bodak Yellow star Cardi B is a fresh face to the music industry. Her rags to riches story makes her relatable to the masses, but what happens when another young female rapper comes along and Cardi like Nicki becomes accustomed to her super rich lifestyle?
Hip Hop fans need to take a step back and try to understand what it is about Nicki Minaj that they hate. If her sexuality or personality is the first elements you think of, that is a clear indication of how you see the world.
Yes, Nicki Minaj should be more vocal on certain issues and we must hold her accountable. Her silence on her brother Jelani Minaj being convicted of predatory sexual assault, and her cosigning the problematic sexualisation of indigenous women in a Pocahontas adaption of her Paper magazine cover are just a few examples which come to mind. In the same breath, Cardi B should be challenged for her casual racism in referring to Kim Jung Un on Twitter as “Won Tung Soup”.
Nicki Minaj and Cardi B are both extremely talented black women. They both deserve praise, but must be held accountable. Media influencers like “The Breakfast Club” and “The Wendy Williams Show”, are desperate to reinforce a narrative that women are always at each others throats. This is embarrassing to say the least.
All black women should be supported. No, Eve is not better than Nicki Minaj because she does not “think it’s right” for Minaj to portray herself sexually. No, Remy Ma is not the right kind of black woman because she conforms to a more traditional Hip Hop sound. Each and every one of these black women have contributed something different. If you truly believe Remy Ma is a better woman than Nicki Minaj, where is everyone rallying to support Remy Ma even after she superbly dissed Nicki? Colourism and the emphasis on a certain standard of beauty for female rappers influences her ability to be successful.
The Hip Hop community reflects society and is full of contradictions. The promotion and normalisation of molly, colourism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia are just some of the issues which come to mind. We need to stop tearing women down to praise other women. We need to stop giving male Rap artists a free pass when they are constantly promoting music with lazy concepts and boring lyrics. Calling Nicki Minaj a “tired” or “washed up ho” is anything but helpful.