All Hail Nicki Minaj

28 Nov

I’ve long wanted to write a piece praising Nick Minaj, who is quite possibly the best female rapper to break out since Lil’ Kim.  Minaj, whose real name is Onika Maraj, is bursting with creative talent and a flow unlike many rappers (both and male and female) who receive a fair amount of radio play. Minaj originally hails from Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago, but grew up in Queens, New York. As a student at the Laguardia High School for the Performing Arts, Minaj studied drama, which I believe has a clear influence on her rapping style and use of alter egos, such as “Roman Zolanski” and “Nicki Teresa”.  Her incorporation of singing with rapping mirrors the style of fellow Young Money artist Drake, with whom Minaj collaborates on occasion, though I am not afraid to state that Minaj is more talented than her male Young Money counterparts.

Minaj, who is signed with Young Money Entertainment (Lil’ Wayne’s record label) first gained attention with the release of several mixtapes during the second half of the last decade.  At this time, Minaj relied on a sexy image that she thought would be necessary to giant the sort of success she hoped for.  In one interview, Minaj discussed the sex appeal expected of female rappers: “the female rappers of my day spoke about sex a lot… and I thought that to have the success they got, I would have to represent the same thing. When in fact I didn’t have to represent the same thing.”

It’s a good thing that Minaj chose to clear away expectations of her becoming the next Lil’ Kim, because the first press on Minaj resulted in classy pictures like this one:

In 2010, Minaj moved away from her over-the-top sex-drenched image and introduced her Barbie-influenced alter-ego, complete with a “Barbie” logo diamond chain and doll-like dance moves she started to incorporate into her performances.

Minaj appeared on several very successful singles throughout the year, the most notable of which are “My Chick Bad,” by Ludacris, “Lil Freak,” by Usher, “Letting Go,” by Sean Kingston, and my personal favorite, “Bottoms Up,” by Trey Songz.  Minaj appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 fourteen times in 2010, and her single “Your Love” hit #1 on the Billboard rap chart. Minaj’s flow could best be described as violent, somewhat over-the-top and punctuated by the strange faces Minaj likes to make while rapping.

By far one of the best verses Minaj put out this year was on Trey Songz’s “Bottoms Up,” though Minaj claims this verse is not Minaj herself rapping, but is instead the work of her alter ego, Roman Zolanksi:

Yo, could I get that ‘Tron?
Could I get that Remmy?
Could I get that Coke?
Could I get that Henny?
Could I get that margarita on the rock rock rocks?
Could I get that salt all around that rim rim rim rim?
Trey, I was like “Yo Trey”
Do you think you could buy me a bottle of Rose’?
Okay, lets get it now
I’m with a bad bitch he’s with his friends
I don’t say “Hi”, I say “Keys to the Benz”
Keys to the Benz? Keys to the Benz!
Muhfuckin right yeah, weed to the 10
If a bitch try to get cute Imma sock her
Throw a lotta money at her then yell fucka, fucka, fucka,
Then yell fucka.
Then Imma go get my Louisville Slugger
Excuse me, I’m sorry, I’m really such a lady
I rep Young Money
You know Slim, Baby?
And we be doin’ donuts while we wavin’ the .380
We give a lotta money to the babies out in Haiti
Yellin all around the world,
Do you hear me? Do you like my body?
Anna Nicki
Rest in peace to Anna Nicole Smith
Yes, my dear, you’re so explosive
Say hi to Mary, Mary and Joseph
Now bottoms up and double my dosage.

Minaj’s first album, Pink Friday, debuted last Tuesday and features the singles “Your Love,” Right Thru Me,” and “Check It Out.” I strongly believe that Minaj is perhaps just as talented or even more talented than Lil’ Kim. Additionally, the world-positive spin Minaj places on her verses is in opposition to the hard female rapper persona that Kim and her contemporaries (Foxy Brown, Trina, Eve) worked hard to establish at the tail-end of the 90’s.  Minaj’s album is crisp and fresh and incorporates pop, hip-hop, and R&B into a style that has yet to be named.  Minaj is the new standard for female rappers. I take that back. Not just for female rappers, but for rappers, period.

One Response to “All Hail Nicki Minaj”

  1. Trini November 28, 2010 at 4:39 PM #

    are you sure it is St James, Trinidad and not Arima, Trinidad

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