Tag Archives: Nicki Minaj

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.

Cash, Cars, and Ho’s: How A Feminist Can Love Hip-Hop

21 Oct

Like Jigga, I am also addicted to the game.

I am completely enamored with the world of what I like to call the “theater of hip-hop”. Most women who identify themselves as feminists would not dare admit any lingering love for rap and hip-hop. The genre earned the reputation for objectifying women during the Gangsta rap era, which began in late 1980s Los Angeles. Hip-hop and rap that developed before Gangsta rap embodied a carefree, party-focused mindset; artists like The Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambaataa are some of the first to popularize the rap genre at the tail-end of the Disco era. However, when the Original Gangsta himself entered the scene, hip-hop became a multi-layered genre with a niche for every fan. Ice-T released what many believe is the first Gangsta rap song in 1986: “6 in the Mornin'”.

Gangsta rap focuses on exactly what its name implies; artists of the genre focus on what they know best: the danger-tainted lives of black youths on the hard streets of L.A. Many people love to whine about what a horrible influence gangsta rap is on American youth, but it’s best to give young people the benefit of the doubt and assume that they will not get hold of AK-47s and run China White in the suburbs. At an early age I was exposed to the “My god! What about the children!?!” mentality that is strangely prevalent among square adults – however, I learned to take the words of gangsta rap with a huge grain of salt. My theory on “the theater of hip-hop” helps me to defend my love of rap to those who hate on the genre, especially my fellow feminists. I see hip-hop and rap as a large playhouse in which the artists are players on a grand stage. In this world, anything goes, and that may include referring to women as “bitches,” but the most important things to emphasize are making cash, driving fancy cars, and popping endless bottles of Champagne.

Listening to rap and hip-hop is nothing more than pure fun to me. There’s nothing more entertaining than turning up Ludacris’s “Move Bitch” and going for a ride through the suburbs. It may surprise some that hip-hop is as popular as it is among young, upper middle class suburbanites, but that is exactly who buys everything moguls like Jay-Z and P. Diddy deign to sell to young people. Dancing to rap and hip-hop is also endless fun; I cannot stand women (or even men) who refuse to dance to such music. This is usually the sign of a square and/or someone who cannot be trusted. Rap also gives me the opportunity for me to pretend that I am a much bigger baller than my reality may show. Therefore, I do not find it contradictory for me to call myself a feminist and a fan of hip-hop. Hip-hop is an art form that suffers due to endless witch hunts. Good hip-hop (of which there is an endless supply) is not demeaning to women, and the songs that do mention “bitches” and “hos” should not be taken so seriously. My advice to anyone questioning the importance of hip-hop in our culture is to buy a copy of Jay-Z’s The Blueprint 3 and then try to argue their points. Rap and hip-hop are American cultural institutions not to be dismissed, but saluted. Now pour one out for your homies.

Here are three rap songs that currently make me want to stay on my grind, if you will:

1. “Toot It and Boot It,” YG

As a proud feminist I should hate this song. It’s a young man’s anthem about how he loves to fuck chicks and leave them, but I figure it can also be utilized by women regarding their personal lives. Plus, the video is pretty good and features one of my favorite rap video clichés: thick women dancing in the rain.

2. “My Chick Bad,” Ludacris ft. Nicki Minaj

Ludacris has long been the greatest Southern rapper. My childhood is peppered with memories of his fantastic little ditty, “Move Bitch (Get Out the Way).” For his most recent album, Luda focused on beats that make you want to shake your ass, and “My Chick Bad” is my go-to song for getting pumped up for a night on the town. It also features the hottest female MC of the moment – Nicki Minaj (an upcoming piece on Fixed Air will sing the praises of Minaj.)

3. “Successful,” Drake ft. Trey Songz

Drake is the second hottest thing on the rap scene now, right after Nicki Minaj. This song says it all: “I want the money, money and the cars, cars and the clothes, and the hos, I suppose…I just wanna be successful.” I give mad credit to Drake, who is of course best known for playing Jimmy on the Canadian teen soap opera, Degrassi: The Next Generation. Little Jimmy is all grown up. Tear.