Tuesday 22 October 2019

Barry Egan: Nikci Minaj is giving rap patriarchy a kick up the backside

The hip hop superstar plays Dublin on March 15

Nicki Minaj has attracted criticism for her provocative lyrics and imagery
Nicki Minaj has attracted criticism for her provocative lyrics and imagery
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

A black female artist directly addressing a racist and anti-women society, Nicki Minaj is the agent provocateur of hip hop. Uncompromising to the last, she has fought her way to the top, becoming the most popular female rapper, bar none.

And the most sexual.

She says she is in charge of her own objectification as she embraces her hyper-sexual agency in a manner no mainstream female performer has ever done before.

And before you say Madonna, Madonna never sang in a major global hit about 'Dick bigger than a tower, I ain't talking about Eiffel's/Real country-ass n***a, let me play with his rifle,' and 'He can tell I ain't missing no meals/Come through and f*** him in my automobile', as naughty Nicki did in Anaconda, a track in 2014 that went Top 10 all over the world, No 2 in America's Billboard Hot 100.

Nicki has attracted her fair share of criticism for her provocative lyrics and imagery to match. One critic even compared her to Donald Trump because of "the obsession with winning, the instinct to dismiss critics as losers or liars, the paranoia, the rabid fixation on the initial victory rather than the ensuing work". She stormed out of an interview with The New York Times magazine in 2015.

Given the public beefs between Minaj's boyfriend Meek Mill and her label-mate Drake, and between her mentor Lil Wayne and their label boss Birdman, Minaj was asked did she "thrive on the drama" between the men around her.

"That's disrespectful," Minaj thundered. "Why would a grown-ass woman thrive off drama? What do the four men you just named have to do with me thriving off drama? Why would you even say that? That's so peculiar. Four grown-ass men are having issues between themselves, and you're asking me do I thrive off drama?"

And up she got and was gone.

Born Onika Tanya Maraj on December 8, 1982, in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago, she emigrated to Queens, New York, when she was five years old with her family.

Her tough early years were possibly another reason to take such umbrage with the thrives-on-drama angle. As a child, she was terrified she would go to hell. She was in a sense already living in a hell. Her father was a drug addict who set the family home on fire by accident once upon a horrible time in Minaj's childhood.

"When I first came to America, I would go in my room and kneel down at the foot of my bed and pray that God would make me rich so that I could take care of my mother," she told Rolling Stone magazine in 2010, adding that talking about her parents' - and in particular, her father's - past is "the price you pay when you abuse drugs and alcohol. Maybe one day your daughter will be famous and talk to every magazine about it, so think about that, dads out there who want to be crazy."

Whether you love or loathe the snarly Queen of Rap and her songs with videos that break the internet - Anaconda has had nearly 800m views on YouTube - there is no denying that she is attempting to explore new frontiers in hip hop as a woman who is giving rap patriarchy a kick up the backside.

Not that she particularly cares what we think. "All these low-IQ hos baffle me," she raps on LLC from her fourth and most recent album, Queen. That puts us in our place.

Nicki Minaj plays the 3 Arena in Dublin on March 15

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