Nicki Minaj Pink Friday ~ success, scrutiny, and role in Hip-Hop

Posted on 23 November 2010
By Lindsay Sanchez
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You might be Down With The King but watch the Queen conquer…

Nicki Minaj warned listeners of her pending conquest on Kanye West’s “Monster.”

Pitted against West, Jay-Z and Rick Ross, her verse dominated the track and the nine other hit singles she was featured on this year.

The buzz grew louder with each guest spot and now with her highly anticipated debut album, Pink Friday, Minaj is taking to her throne as the top female rapper.

With undeniably crisp rhymes, character driven voices, and support by hip-hop’s heavy hitters, she ranked at number six for MTV’s 2010 Hottest MCs in the Game – the first female to ever place.

She is also the first female of any genre to have seven singles on Billboard’s Hot 200 at once.

Why Knock The Hustle?

Minaj’s position at the top is a vulnerable one. She is often scrutinized for her various personas – the prissy Barbie, the crazed Roman Solanski, the British gentile and others yet to be born.

While each is sharp-tongued and confident, her schizophrenic characterizations border on fetish and she is often criticized for leading with the sex card in a male dominated world.

“Since hip-hop as a whole represents women in a particular way, if she represents herself that way even 10 per cent of the time, the public will perceive her as that and only that.

“She’s walking down a path that’s hard to tread because she’s burdened with being the only woman out there trying to represent” claims music critic Jay Smooth for NPR.

Minaj admits indulging in these risqué and outlandish characters because her success has granted her more freedom to do so.

But, she realizes her role model status and encourages young fans to pursue their education and independence, which she discussed in an interview with Details: “I didn’t know I was gonna have 13-year-old fans, so I’ve tried to change a few things here and there. But I also know that the girls don’t want me to be Miley Cyrus, either.”

B-B-Bad As I Want To Be

Overtly sexualized and aggressive personas are nothing new for female rappers, which became a double edge sword for Minaj.

Veteran femcee known for scantly clad outfits and brash rhymes, Lil Kim sparked a heated feud criticizing Minaj for being an imitator without paying respect to the pioneers. By mocking Minaj’s style at concerts with Barbie wigs and doll like dancing, Lil Kim attempted to draw divisive lines between female rappers.

M.I.A protégé, Rye Rye, took sides saying Minaj is “just a remake of Lil Kim.” Rye Rye later diffused her comment, but there are parallels in their careers. Lil Kim was the last women to have a #1 single on the Billboard Rap chart in 2003 for “Magic Stick,” until Minaj released “Your Love.”

Ultimately, Lil Kim’s jealous jabs are unsubstantial because Minaj repeatedly discussed her appreciation and inspiration from divas.

She has the hyper sexuality of Foxy Brown, the sharpness of Missy Elliot, and the theatrics of Lady Gaga. By fusing these influences, it can be argued Minaj is crossing beyond hip-hop and carving a nook previously untouched.

Because Minaj is currently the most well known woman in hip-hop there is pressure for her to fill every female void – from the sexy diva, to the socially active, to the super girlie.

She comes close to accomplishing this given her many characters, but Nicki Minaj is still only one rapper. And for now, she happens to be the loudest and most commanding of them all – male or female.

Lindsay Sanchez is a US based writer, read more of her work ~ thegetdownblog.com