You know the state of hip hop is really in trouble when a rapper who has yet to drop her own record AND who lip-synchs her live performances wins a BET Award for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist. I was out of the country on vacation, but got back just in time to see Chris Brown boo-hoo his way to redemption and see Nicki Minaj proclaim she’s “fighting for women.” Ugh! Fighting? For me? Homegirl flashed her ta-tas and did a Milli Vanilli the whole night and now she’s an advocate for females? Of course this could be more telling about the state of affairs at BET than about hip-hop. As such, there’s a few things I could be pissed off about when discussing the BET Awards or rap for that matter, but my mama taught me to pick my battles so for now I choose Nicki Minaj and all her Barbie Doll dysfunction. Even though this chick couldn’t even spit 8 bars, I feel I have a way better shot at salvaging this free-spirited Trinidadian before I could get a pulse outta hip-hop.
I may not like Nicki Minaj, but I certainly get her and why she’s appealing. The colorful wigs, the weirdo hookeresque get-ups, the affectations—verbal and otherwise. I get it cause I’ve seen it all before. Y’all do remember Lil Kim? And unlike Nicki’s other major source for material, Lady Gaga, who thrills in part because she reaches way back to Madonna, Grace Jones, and Elton John to draw inspiration, Nicki simply flicks her wrist to her immediate right and left and picks at current sensations like Missy Elliott and The Pussy Cat Dolls. Nicki Minaj is certainly a lot of things, mostly a manufactured mess, but she’s also relatively young, seemingly green and under the influence of Puff Daddy and Lil Wayne so I gotta cut her some slack. She’s probably confused as all heck.
I recently stumbled across this wonderful art catalogue book– Bad Girls, and it hit me how much Nicki (like so many girls today) just wants to stand out, be an individual and therefore be a lil outrageous. She wants to be a bad girl so badly, but has no clue what it takes. In the book, Linda Goode Bryant states: “Bad girls make art that comes out of experience and not style, out of conviction, not trend. They reference themselves, not others.” It’s disappointing that Nicki is focusing more on mimicking a doll– a white, plastic, blue-eyed female at that– than on pulling from her incredibly dramatic, albeit young life where her dad was a crack addict that set her stuffed animals on fire. The bad girls that I adore DO draw from experience—Nina Simone, Lauryn Hill, Pink and Mary J. Blige! And they most definitely reference themselves– Grace Jones, M.I.A., Jill Scott, and Amy Winehouse.
Clearly Nicki has a long way to go before she’s a bonafide bad girl, but she has potential. I can see that much. First and foremost though, next time home girl spits, audibles best be heard and best be real. Only Janet Jackson can get away with lipsynching in 2010 and she proved she’s one of the baddest b’s after her wardrobe malfunction… so there!