Ahead of her Dubai performance, two writers debate the cons and pros of Nicki Minaj!
Minaj and Moi
David Light incredulously defends one of the best rappers in decades.
I'm not sure why this is even up for discussion but apparently there are some out there who don't approve of Onika Maraj's musical persona Nicki Minaj and her output. Agreed the Trinidad and Tobago-born artist can be controversial, but surely that's what we want from our performers, isn't it? Would Mick Jagger have built a 50-year career if he'd spent his nights off stage in his slippers catching up on episodes of The Antiques Road Show? Here are five reasons why hopping on the Nicki Express is a must and why you Barbz, Ken Barbz and Boyz should catch the show this (Pink) Friday.
1) First and foremost Nicki is an extremely talented rapper and vocalist overall (e.g. Pills N Potions). If she were a novelty act, I could understand the detractors, though listen to even a few of her early mixtapes on YouTube - Beam Me Up Scotty being the best - and even without the professional studio enhancements it's clear to see why she became so in demand seemingly overnight.
As Nicki may put it: "Wait I'm the rookie? But my features and my shows ten times your pay? 50k for a verse, no album out!"
2) Her prolificacy has to be admired. How many tracks has Nicki Minaj released or upon how many has she been featured? It's reportedly just under 200 since 2007. And those are only where Nicki is the main artist. Working with everyone from Rick Ross to Justin Bieber, the sheer number of projects mean, even if you don't like all of it, there will be something you'll recognise and sing along to on Friday.
As Nicki may put it: "And I will retire with the crown, yes. No, I'm not lucky, I'm blessed, yes."
3) Nicki is funny. Watch any interview and she's hilarious. That humour runs through many of her songs - whether it be addressing her appearance or others', for example - and, although she's come through the crazy costume phase, her stage show still contains similar energy. Anyone who can kill it on Saturday Night Live and create a hit song with Andy Samberg's Lonely Island collective (The Creep) also gets a massive tick from me.
As Nicki may put it: "Uh you want a freaky girl? Welcome to Nicki World."
4) Nicki displays more attitude than Naomi Campbell and Madonna being refused entry into club's VIP section. She not only faces those with a beef which include Lil' Kim and Miley Cyrus but takes them down in verse and in some cases live on stage. In a world ruled by squeaky clean PR, this is something we've missed.
As Nicki may put it: "Bi****s ain't s**t, and they ain't sayin' nothin'"
5) In the still predominantly misogynistic world of hip-hop Nicki is one of, if not, the most famous and well-paid rappers in the world. Her albums, shows and perfumes frequently hit the top of their respective sales lists and now with a burgeoning movie career in The Other Woman and, more promisingly, Barbershop 3, the sky is the limit. When it comes to business there's no keeping Minaj down.
As Nicki may put it: "Sadly, I'm so business savvy, similar protocol but the tidbits vary."
Maán Jalal turns a quizzical eye on the 'Queen' of Rap
There is denying that Nicki Minaj is one of the most well known female rappers out there. At first sight and sound, there may be many reasons to like her. Catchy melodies, interesting lyrics, flashy imagery but like all shiny, plastic things they quickly turn redundant, reductive and repugnant.
Yes, she's talented but when all your clever lyrics are filled with sexual innuendoes, catty comments and over-the-top ego boosting, the novelty soon wears off and all that's left is absurd, pointless and comical sexual references, over-exposure and dare we say it, a rapper who is feuding her way to be the female version of Kanye West? Here are five reasons why Nicki Minaj, despite what she says, isn't the 'baddest' girl in the rap game.
1) "Who is the queen and things of that?"
Constantly referring to yourself as the queen of this or that doesn't actually give you the crown. Especially if you don't have the accolades to back it up. Anyone who has been a fan of rap longer than the last five years knows that much of Miss Minaj's style from her outlandish outfits, prolific lyrics and rap story is influenced, if not directly stolen, from the original Queen of Rap Lil' Kim. Nicki's whole Black Barbie image was stolen directly from Lil' Kim's imagery and specifically from lyrics in the 2003 hit The Jump Off from her album La Bella Mafia.
2)"I am a rap legend, just go ask the kings of rap."
There is nothing wrong with playing in different sandboxes in the playground. But please stop referring to yourself as a Rap Legend when everything about you is pop now. Nicki's singles Super Bass and Starships were massive hits but like her Pinkprint album it's all super pop and stripped of any of the gritty, raw rap that she initially started with before she caught Lil Wayne's eye when she was featured in a 2007 DVD The Come Up: The Carter Edition.
3) "Always remember, keep it real with YOURSELF."
When Miley Cyrus was asked about Nicki Minaj in an interview she responded by saying she wasn't the nicest person. Minaj proved the point when she called out Miley, with what became a momentary infamous line on social media "Miley, What's Good?" on national television at the 2015 VMAs where Miley was hosting. Given both of the artists' track records of orchestrating sensational hot messes for media attention (and if you see the terrible acting on the clip online) this 'feud' was obviously a set up. Super real Nicki.
4) "I wanted to say, 'Hey ladies, you're beautiful'."
Everything about her latest hit Anaconda is ridiculous. Using the banner of representing curvy women everywhere, Nicki in fact represents curvy women by putting down other women. 'F*** them skinny bitches. Yeah. I got a big fat ass. Come on!' This might be a good time to remind everyone that Nicki's behind is actually fake, as was proven in a picture that showed, implants or pads while she was performing. Also the lyrical blue print and theme of Anaconda, to anyone with ears, is a blatant copy of Lil' Kim's 2000 song How Many Licks featuring Sisqó from her album The Notorious K.I.M.
5) "Lemme make this clear, I'm not difficult, I'm just 'bout my business"
If your business is getting into catfights then you are on the right track, Cookie. It's a well known fact that Nicki doesn't play nice with other female rappers, singers or females in general. Except Beyonce. But who wouldn't get along with Beyonce? She's only married to the most financially successful hip-hop artists in America. If we were in the rap game, we'd all get along with Beyonce. Nicki's list of public feuds includes Taylor Swift, Mariah Carey, Iggy Azalea, Lil' Kim, Farah Abraham, Barbara Walters, Eve, Cher and even Jennifer Aniston! "
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