July 15, 2010

Category: Grooves, Real Talk

Being A Bad Girl: Nicki Minaj (Part1)


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!

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11 Responses to “Being A Bad Girl: Nicki Minaj (Part1)Comment RSS feed

  • Daree Allen
    July 15th, 2010 12:41 pm

    Even with all the crazy get-ups, I still don’t get the appeals of Minaj or Gaga. They may like to shock, but they certainly do not empower women. I say Next!

  • BKMuseic
    July 15th, 2010 5:27 pm

    Interesting take on the Harajuku Barbie. I’m not a fan. No imagination on her part. Funny thing is, I think that Gaga is more imaginative, I’m just not a fan of what her imagination creates… “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” and all that.

    Not sure if she (or Gaga) has done her full research– are they *evoking the images of their predecessors, or merely *mimicking in an unimaginative yet marketable way? Is it even appropriate to do either? When does an artist become a (bad) copy of a copy of a copy?

    Can they even be original? I’m sure there are a lot of artists that “reference themselves” that, for that exact reason, cannot be marketed as a familiar (she’s the next !) consumable.

    In any event, check out this (dense and intellectual) article on GaGa and tropes of femininity and (hyper?)sexuality from the NYTimes: http://nyti.ms/cw3Uga

  • Chynadahl
    July 15th, 2010 5:33 pm

    I also watched the BET Awards– this year, with my 18-yr-old niece and 20-yr-old nephew. And it makes sense that Nicki Minaj has been chosen the female rap don dada. Look at her bedfellows: Lil’ Wayne, Lil Boosie, Lil’ John and Young Jeezy (Biggie, WE MISS YOU!!!).

    During one of my favorite moments of the awards, when my high school sweetheart, El DeBarge, emerged, my nephew said, “Ugh, who’s this Latino homo?” I almost died. Now, my niece and nephew are honor students and stay out of trouble, so they’re not what you would consider “hood.” But this generation has NO RESPECT or understanding of good music or the pioneers that made it.

    Then, he said “Jay-Z’s a good rapper, but he needs to hang it up, because he old!”


    Oh, but it gets worse: Later that same night, we were watching original footage of Rakim and Eric B. playing “Paid in Full,” from back in the day. My husband and I lost our minds, jumped up and started excitedly reciting the lyrics, and my nephew said, “Who’s that? He looks like a broke-down Roscoe Jenkins.” I died a second death! :-(. Rakim The God Allah’s contributions reduced in two seconds to the likeness of a straight “bum.”

    Wow, wow, wow…. I’m STILL reeling form those comments. I’m so hurt.

    So, I’m resolved: Nicki Minaj and ‘nem… they’re a part of a generation that is straight LOST, as far as music. Ain’t no use in complaining. It’s done.

  • jessica
    July 15th, 2010 5:40 pm

    so true all around!

  • Noelani
    July 16th, 2010 5:36 am

    Nothing more to add. I concur!

  • jalylah
    July 16th, 2010 12:14 pm

    Love this!:

    “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 am intentionally oblivious to Minaj. I think she’d frustrate me where I to listen to her product but I did see the BET awards and she was a mockery to emceeing. That skilled emcees like Wayne and veteran talent spotters like Diddy prefer to surround themselves with subpar women emcees is as intentional as it is disheartening.

  • jalylah
    July 16th, 2010 12:15 pm

    Oh and thanks for the heads up about Bad Girls. I have got to check out!

  • Julia
    July 16th, 2010 3:08 pm


    LOL! It seems you’re nephew really knows how to press your buttons, and is probably doing some of that for sport. I say bombard his ear space with the original songs that his “new” music samples. And maybe take him to some of the various live music performances happening all over the city (many are free). Maybe seeing and hearing some real musicians and singers do their thing will help to broaden his musical tastes.

    Don’t give up on that generation, though. Like people in all generations some of us are going to be a little more exposed/cultured/worldly than others. For every Lil’ Wayne, Lil Boosie, Lil’ John and Young Jeezy who feel there’s doing some revolutionary ish, there are folks like Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spaulding, Janelle Monae, etc. who know well what musical expressions came before them, and are building and expanding on that.

  • Raven
    July 19th, 2010 2:58 pm

    Does anyone out there remember the new wave band called Missing Persons? (Walking in LA; Words; I like boys; Mental Hopscotch). Well, while I don’t disagree that GaGa reaches back to deep Madonna, Grace and Elton, when I saw her for the first time, I said DALE BOZIO, the Missing Person’s lead singer. They even look alike, both being italian (Dale Frances Consalvi/Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta).

    And I’m not the only one who saw it. someone put together a “separated at birth” mini montage and I dare you to catch the difference between the two of them without a second look.


    Check out the bubble wrap vest on Dale in this shot:

  • mums
    July 26th, 2010 9:20 am

    Nicki Minaj is a WAY after-thought. In fact I don’t think about her, don’t listen to her music, didn’t watch the BET awards (or anything on BET for that matter)- and haven’t for the past 5 years now (even though I am sad I missed the Prince tribute) and don’t really give too much weight to what people under the age of 30 do or say. Any artist that uses the “lil” in front of their name is just saying to me that they are not the fully formed and matured version of themselves. Another reason not to listen. I DO feel for these audiences of children that are too musically uninformed to actually NOT be hypnotized by colorful wigs, a high pitched voice and badly written and disguised sexual references.
    I hate rap. I grew up in the Bronx and saw hip hop become, grow, evolve, change and become this empty shell of a musical style to be pimped and manipulated and squeezed for as many dollars as it can give. There is no one in a place of power that can actually recognize real talent anymore. Capitalism has seeped too deep into the creative process. A rapper raps about how much money they will make from rap. That is the form feeding on itself. I was done a long time ago. If there was a proper balance in the world(business) of music. Nicki Minaj would be a stripper and Jean GRAE would be walking off the BET stage with the Best WOMAN emcee award. enuf.

  • theHotness
    July 27th, 2010 4:48 pm
    Author's Reply

    @Chynadahl: Damn that’s rough! We have to school these youngins!
    @Raven: No I never heard of Dale Bozio but I’ll check your links. There are very few originals these days. Hmmph.
    @muMs: LOL.. I agree with your words about Jean Grae and BET. I’m still optimistic for some strange reason. I guess instead of waiting for Godot I’m waiting for Lauryn Hill. For Eve and yes, for Jean Grae to blaze it back to the realness. Jay Elect is surely doing it for the brothers in hip hop.