Why Nicki Minaj Is Right

Yesterday I came across a quote by Nicki Minaj, hip hop's reigning queen of spastic, empty rhymes who is quickly on her way to becoming a pop culture phenomenon. What she said made me angry, gave me pause, then caused me to have a accept a grim reality all in that order. 

They [major labels] won't look to sign other female rappers if the project doesn't do well. Because they're gonna say "well, her buzz was so crazy, if she couldn't do it no one can do it." I don't want that to happen so I'm doing this for all the girls.

My first reaction was that of being absolutely incensed that someone such as herself would even utter such a thing. She came across to me as being absolutely entitled, especially after recent talk of her accepting comparisons between her and Lauryn Hill in her prime. My second reaction was that of attempting to figure out what she may have meant because, when people say things that are just so egregious, I try to give them a chance to redeem themselves. My last reaction was one of sadness because I actually began to understand what she meant and why she said it.

Despite my wanting to dismiss everything that this chick has done and will ever do (no, I don't like her wigs, and, no, I don't think she was ever good at rhyming), she has reached a level of success that most female rappers will never attain. The fact that she comes across to me as desperate for attention and willing to get it by any means necessary is just proof that there is a disconnect between those who like her and myself. But the fact that she was able to hone in on a sad reality about the music industry is even more depressing.

With record labels' profits down and many labels not being able to sustain in this economy, the bottom line is that facsimiles of what sells is what labels want. That being said, Minaj is right: if her project doesn't sell--and I have no doubt that it won't do well--then the music industry collectively won't be willing to sign any other female rappers whether they emulate her or not. No record label wants to bank on anything not being a worldwide smash because frankly, they need the money, substance be damned.

Here's the sadder part: not only is Nicki not particularly talented but the reigining queen of hip hop, the standard by which all other femcees were judged post her emergence into our lives, Lauryn Hill, is by all accounts over. Not only is Lauryn not the hungry, lyrically-adept, crush-you-with-her-heel-while-she-stings-you-with-her-tongue lyricist that she used to be, it's evident that she simply doesn't care about ever returning. Case-in-point: Rock The Bells. One would think that to reemerge to a generation of fans who had no choice but to bestow utmost respect onto you that she would reward us with something more than leaving fans waiting for three hours while she got a mani-pedi. And that's but one example of her tardiness during the tour. Let me tell you something: no mani-pedi takes that long. Not even the Queen of Zamunda's. 

The reality is this: hip hop continues on in other forms that some of us will never accept. Female emcees with far lesser talent than we are willing to accept are more accessible than should be. The queen who rightly took her place no longer wants to rule. The reigning queen sucks. The next female rapper who will crush them all will not and was not featured on a BET documentary. Sidenote: Am I the only one incensed that My Mic Sounds Nice didn't mention several up-and-coming femcees such as Invincible, Josie Stingray or, dammit, the plethora of talented, underappreciated rhyming women in any real capacity? Sigh.

I have no idea when things will right themselves. And I am even sadder that a quote from Nicki Minaj was required for me to accept how wack things are.

Nicki Minaj Tells Greg Street: "They Won't Look To Sign Other Female Rappers If The Project Doesn't Do Well." [HHW]

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22 Responses

  1. I completely understand your point, but feel ill-equipped to comment about the substance of what you're saying because I don't watch music videos and don't listen to the radio. The entire Nicki Minaj phenomenon is completely LOST on me. I've only heard her squawk out a line or two on other people's songs and was not impressed. But another kick-you-in-the-teeth-with-talent phenom like Lauryn Hill is probably gonna be a LONG time coming. Mos Def is probably her closest mail equivalent, and even he can't sing even better than he rhymes.

  2. Nicki is partially right, but largely wrong. The industry is always trying to find an excuse for it's laziness. So they find whomever they can that's going to "play the game" and ensure that they will make their money. But that's part of the reason why the industry is falling apart. Women actually purchase music more than men. So why wouldn't they want to see a female representation of themselves? TLC did well. Missy did Well. Lauryn did well. Da Brat did well. Eve did well. There are a lot of female artists/emcees who have been successful. The thing is, a lot of them had somewhat masculine qualities. Nicki is the only one that sounds/looks "girly" (even though she talks about being bi and wanting to get with girls). If one female artists does bad, and the "industry" uses that to substantiate why they won't sign another female act then that shows their sexism, and their unwillingness to TRY new things.
    Since when has the industry been worth shit anyway? To reach the masses? If Nicki's album is not seamless, the majority of the public will forget about her. She has a dedicated fanbase right now, but lets' see if it's strong enough to make her go Gold. Then she can talk.

  3. My Mic Sounds Nice mentioned Invincible by name (along with many others) in a segment about the underground female emcee- it was directly after the Nicki MInaj portion of the program.

  4. @ Seth P.
    Thanks for the clarification. I guess my ultimate point is why these up-and-coming femcees weren't mentioned more and in more depth. Focusing on the past is great re: My Mic Sounds Nice, but you have to offer people fresher alternatives to female hip hop now.

  5. You cant blame Nicki for everythings that wrong with hip-hop she is a bastard product of everything thats screwing up hip-hop. Instead of being mad at Nicki, we should be mad at every other female MC who lets Nicki walk around like she is the best to do it. The sad thing is I dont think Nicki would be running her trap if Remy wasnt locked up, seems as if Remy is the only female MC with enough balls to call Nicki out. If you are a female MC and you are reading this post and you're tired of chicks selling albums because of a big ole ass and breast, then get off your ass and make some real music, show the world that talent, not T&A is what real rap is about, and shut this Barbie chick up once and for all...........................

  6. lauryn just said she was in the studio...

  7. This right here is why I love this site... great writing, perspective, and well thought out content! Other blogs should be taking note.

  8. She's actually wrong, and you guys are obsessed with the wrong things. It's stupid for everybody on both sides to be making this anymore than another artist releasing a record.
    I wish some of you would actually do the research before you talk. Someone already mentioned that they mentioned a plethora of female emcees RIGHT AFTER the segment on Nicki. That makes you look clueless and silly for no reason.
    The major label record game is transforming regardless of how anybody does. Buying her album is not some vote for the future, Greg Street is wrong, she's dumb for following it up, and you're wrong for giving it more hype. You're playing right into the labels hands, by hyping her up in yet another place on the web.
    I used to enjoy the crticics of this page, they at least sounded informed.Now it seems a bit fruitless, and I'd rather just come here t find out whats actually GOOD.
    And for the record, I actually LIKE Nicki. She aint the best thing since slied bread, but she has some material out there that's good. And she's cute. I do actually see her growing and letting some of the more needless aspects of her character go.

  9. sad, cuz I go from this post to the very next one being.... a remix of R Kelly's IGNITION... Soulbounce APPROVED. There needs to be a board meeting ASAP

  10. Like her or not she's holding a spot right now that would otherwise be empty. If a femcee wants to take the spot it wouldn't be hard, Nicki isn't hiding. Maybe they aren't because NM is fully capable of holding her own lyrically even though all that foolishness covers up any talent that she actually has. Lil Kim came back out rapping like Nicki, WTF is that about. Like an earlier commenter said, the labels will be quick to try and find their own version. I think NM will release an introspective album after her debut. Emo-rap seems to be the way to go these days.

  11. I actually dig Nicki. Her mixtapes are way better than the commercial stuff she appears on or releases but that's to be expected. When dealing with a major an artist HAS to water down their shit if they want any of it to see the light of day. She's going to have to do numbers before she gets the power/freedom to go deeper than the surface shit.
    So she actually is right. If she flops, it will be a loooooooooooong time before the labels get behind another female emcee. Think back... how much time went by between the last mainstream femcee and mainstream Nicki? Hell, NAME the last mainstream femcee before Nicki!
    There is no hip hop queen. Lauryn gave up the throne almost a decade ago and obviously has no interest in being what we WANT or THINK she should be. Which is cool with me. Do you.
    I like Invincible more than I like Nicki. Been listening to her for years. Jean Grae and Remy too. But Nicki found a way to transition from underground to popular and we should applaud her just for that. She is, generally speaking, the only female making national noise. Liking her is all opinion.

  12. Nicki is going to be known for just doing raps for everybody, but when she puts out her own it's going to be bittersweet.
    I don't think we won't be hearing from her much next years to come.

  13. Amen..I completely agree with you.

  14. Avatar

    The belief that major labels are the only and optimal source of new female talent is a tired one. Let's climb out of the little boxes that inprison our music and think for ourselves. You not feeling artificially flavored femcees like Nicki Minaj and you do like Jean Grae or Invincible? Buy their music and show up at their shows! I do!
    There's something so slave mentality-ish about needing a corporation to cosign the art that you love before you can love it.
    Hip hop was originally born out of the "do-it-yourself" model.

  15. don't believe that hype, nicki is wrong.... if she fails (hopefully it does) it MAY force labels to look into talent again instead of hype and image...
    btw invincible has been going since the 90's

  16. What I see is that due to the lack of women in the forefront of hip hop, any woman who does make it somewhere near to the top is pulled in every direction and measured by the expectations of ALL Black women who love hip hop.
    We can't do that though. Someone like Lauryn Hill or Eve or Queen Latifah only comes around once in a blue moon. Nicki Minaj can only be her -- now the question of whether her image is really the true her is another question, but that's another convo. I believe that Nicki Minaj is only so polarizing because there is literally no one else to satisfy the diverse needs of every woman looking for a chick's champion in hip hop.
    I also don't believe it's fair to dismiss her SIMPLY because of her style or presentation. We tend to marginalize our artists and demonize them when they come left field, meanwhile weird artists like Gwen Stefani and MIA are understood and appreciated in other communities. Nicki Minaj has this whole silly, irreverant Barbie thing going on. I can't really identify with that. But it doesn't keep me from recognizing her raw talent and creativity, even if that's not apparent in her mainstream appearances. Just like I fucked with Missy hard even though a lot of her lyrics are nonsensical and sexual. Not saying Nicki is on her level (excellent singer, writer, producer, etc), just noting that those two things don't easily reconcile.
    I also think it's unfair that to root for the Josie Stingrays, the Invincibles, etc that we think we have to root against an artist like Nicki Minaj. I can appreciate most artists for what they are and what they have to offer, and I try not to be a music elitist, thinking something meaningful (to whomever) has to come in a certain package. I personally couldn't relate to Lil Kim either but a lot of women (and even men) were empowered by her boldness.
    Basically, all I'm saying is be fair and make sure your criticisms are coming from the right place. Well that's all I have to say I guess. *presses the little button on the sitback chair*

  17. My heart dropped when I read her comment because I instantly knew how much truth was behind that statement. The music industry is absolutely disgusting in how they deal with female rappers. What female rapper is even still standing? Some of them, but they surely don't have the hype they did back in the day. No one will give them a push and if Nicki doesn't succeed, it's a losing battle all over again
    I think Nicki is talented. She's no Lauryn Hill or anyone else who has produced a CLASSIC album but she makes some dope ass witty rhymes with pun & punchlines that we haven't seen in mainstream rap anymore. I'm happy someone like this has hype and it's not another Souljah Boy. #teamminaj but #teamgoodhiphop more.

  18. "The reality is this: hip hop continues on in other forms that some of us will never accept."
    sums up my sentiments exactly....i make my own mix CDs and rarely listen to the radio. i'm glad we're not rapping about killing people and being a ho, but there is still very rarely any substance. About the best that hip hop can do right now is make a beat you can dance to.

  19. Well, none of the up and comers were represented. Invincible really isn't even an up and comer, she's been doing her thing for quite a while now. It is interesting that people Invincible has done Documentaries and tours of herself were included, but not her. Granted she purposefully takes on her role as the black sheep of hiphop, because she knows her message would likely get lost if she didn't accept the shunning. Then of course, there was no Jean Grae either. Really annoying. Not only are they overlooking great Femcees, they are over looking great emcees period.

  20. @AI You took the words right out of my mouth.

  21. I will never buy into her gimmick and YES, she is a gimmick rapper. Rah Digga, Remy Ma, Eve...if y'all don't come on out and show this young girl what true talent is. SMH

  22. I love how people have a clear and precise definition of Women in Hip Hop etched in stone.... I happen to like Nicki...I enjoy her word play and her voices. How many times must I say that there is room in HipHop for everyone, be it the style of Remy, Eve, Lauryn... whateva...I mean really, Eve identified herself as a Pitbull in a skirt... I heard no one complaining about that or her paw prints...I feel no need to compare them, they all represent some aspect of a woman,,,,even if you hate to admit it...I'm conscious but sexy, feminine but strong, a barbie and a PitBull when I wanna be. Stop looking for Lauryn to be the saving grace of women in Hip Hop


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