Darling Nicki: Okay I Admit it….You Had Me At Hello

I am about to admit a very painful truth.  I am now a Nicki Minaj fan and I have probably always been ***hangs head low in knowing embarrassment***.  My girl crush on Nicki started with her feature on Yo Gotti’s 5 Star Bitch, but for a long time I was stuck in this moment of cognitive dissonance trying to figure out who this girl was and why was she everywhere like parsley.

I know that it is standard operating procedure for the dayum near thirty and over set to hate on Nicki for among other things her purported lack of lyrical prowess (I disagree), her uncanny ability to produce strong features while simultaneously offering lackluster solo efforts, her affiliation with the Young Money Crew, her penchant for pink, her surgically enhance derrière, her fake love affair with Drake, her faux British accent, and cartoonish sputtering flow.

Yet what I’ve come to realize is what we hate Nicki most for is not being Lauryn Hill Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, Da Brat, Remy Ma, or Trina. Nicki represents a  shift for hip-hop fans of my generation; and the sting is particularly potent because she has come on the scene like an all consuming flood, after a long drought of successful female MCs.

I can imagine a similar tension was felt by fans of Queen Latifah, Monie Love, and Mc Lyte, when Kim and Foxy hit the scene.  Their anti-cconscious hip-hop aesthetic was certainly frowned upon from a certain kind of feminist hip-hop head. Kim and Foxy created a brand that  eschewed traditional feminist values—apart from a hyper sexual aggression that could be viewed as a form of sexual liberation.  They created an archetype for the female MCs of today whose material largely focuses on sex, materialism, the criminal life and excess.

As far as the Lauryn Hill nostalgia goes, I can certainly sympathize with a desire for her educational, heartfelt, and emotive—if not sometimes preachy—brand of hip-hop.  However, Lauryn is highbrow; comparing her with Nicki is like comparing Tyler Perry to Spike Lee.  They both have their unique brand of genius, but one is driven by popular appeal and the other by artistic merit.

Nicki Minaj has appropriated aspects of this brand of female rapper, but has created her own infectious rap style  and persona that makes allows her not only bankable but primed for superstardom.  Her verse on Kanye West’s Monster marked my conversion moment from secret fan to outright Minaj advocate: “So let me get this straight/wait I’m the rookie/But my features and my shows ten times your pay/50k for a verse no album out…”

Fire.  This lil’ broad is going in!

Nicki’s theatrics have also been subject to critique.  A lot of folks have a problem with her strange voices and singy-songy animated delivery; but like her visuals and the dramatics are part of her brand.   A former performing arts student, Nicki understands the importance of being over the top and its has been invaluable to helping her stand-out.  It’s like hip-hop Glee and I love it.

Set aside the animated facial expressions, cartoonish voices, and references to Barbie and listen to her verses.   Her flow is multi-faceted and dynamic, mixing Jamerican inflections, brash storytelling, and yes pretty decent use of metaphor. Check her verse from the 2009 Hip-Hop Award Bet Cypher and tell me it’s not fire:

Nikki has the bravado, confidence, and killer instinct of some of the hottest male MCs and she does it in bad ass Giuseppe stilettos.  The girl’s shoe game cannot be slept on. This signals another thing I’ve come to appreciate about young Nicki.  She does not apologize for being a girl’s girl succeeding in a testosterone laden industry. Right Though Me and Your Love are written from a uniquely female point of view and are void of typical sexual innuendo. These songs are about relationships and I can dig ’em.  However, Let it not go unsaid that Nicki does manipulate and leverage her sexuality. She  even plays with her sexual preferences in the same way drunk girlfriends dance with each other to beg male attention in the club, see her verse on Usher’s Lil Freak:

Excuse me little mama but u can say im on duty
Im lookin for a cutie a real big ole’ ghetto booty
I really like ur kitty kat n if you let me touch her
I kno u not a bluffer.. i’ll take you to go see usher
I keep a couple hoes like santa I keep a vixen
Got that dasher dancer prancer vixen
Comet cupid donner blitzen….

I cannot wait until Pink Friday.  On November 22nd, along with much of the 106 and Park contingent, I will be purchasing the album and Kanye’s effort due for release the same day. With her mentor Lil’ Wayne released from prison just today, it will be interesting to see where Minaj’s career goes next. I’m excited to see.  So Nicki critics, here is my message to you:  put down the haterade and let this young girl do her thing.


  1. FIRST BITCHES!!..Amazing writing in this article…amazing…but whats really cool is its so damn true!…been listening to Nicki since Smack DVD days..when Lil Wayne was telling her, I got you Nicki, just pay close attention to me when I go thru the ingredients of an icon and I’ll make you just that!!!…Nicki is sooo stamped..and I’m tired of people hating too!

  2. http://www.vibe.com/content/dj-rampage-talks-lauryns-comeback-and-her-approval-nicki-minaj-pg3

    Lauryn Hill likes her too.

    At any time, Did Ms. Hill express interest in any artists or wanting to collaborate with anyone?

    There are moments when we’re taking a break from practicing and just talking about things, and I remember this one time she mentioned hearing Nicki on the radio. I believe the track was “Roger That,” and she started reciting some of Nicki’s lyrics and her adlibs. It was obivous to me she was feeling her stuff.

  3. […] politics of pop-culture and the culture of politics.   I’ve written about everything from Nicki Minaj to Antoine Dodson and let me tell you it has been fun, challenging, and inspirational.  Your […]

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