Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Deconstructing Nicki Minaj


Out of all the things that became nearly extinct this decade musically (the R&B group, the hip-hop group, talent over image), the death of the female MC is something that's been a quiet yet gradual phase. When I interviewed Chuck D for a story that never ran two years ago, he mentioned it as a problem hip-hop needs to address because the only role for women nowadays is the sex symbol.

The only two female MC's I can rattle off the top of my head are Jean Grae and Nicki Minaj. I've been a fan of Jean since 2004 when she outshone Talib Kweli and Black Thought on their respective albums and she's stayed a beast. And then there's Nicki who's doing her best Lil Kim impersonation on the 2009 version of Junior MAFIA.

People are so hyped about Nicki's "skill" that they overlook how unoriginal she is to begin with. She calls herself the Black Barbie, something that Lil Kim perfected by calling herself the Black Pam Anderson. Barbie is appropriate because apparently Nicki has had a bit surgery to make her boobs and butt look bigger. And she's going for the sex symbol route that Kim and Foxy Brown already did and did better.

And as far as her skill - her voice sounds like a Valley girl trying to be hard. Never mind her lyrics (or her choppy flow), if you don't want to listen to say anything, who cares what you have to say. I dare someone to give me a verse of hers that's worth giving props over (that BET cypher doesn't count - a decent freestyle but then again Bow Wow murdered "Oh I Think They Like Me." Anything can happen once in a while)

Here's a list of reasons why she's FAR from the best female rapper alive.

1) She's trying to be Lil Kim but Kim has classics under her belt. Who cares if Biggie ghostwrote her stuff and coached her, she had to still deliver it and she made classic songs. Kim was coached by the best, Nicki is coached by...Lil Wayne? Point made

2) Missy Elliot has made far better music than her. "Get Ur Freak On" will go down as one of the best hip-hop songs of the decade. Her run with Timbaland from 1997-2002 almost turned hip-hop around from samples to electro-sounding beats...practically the style today.

3) Remy Ma rapped toe-to-toe with Big Pun and stole the show on "Lean Back" in 04 (how did I forget that song on my 2004 Music Post). What lyrical heavyweight will Nicki stand toe-to-toe with?

4) MC Lyte today could rap circles around her. Nevermind in her late 80's-90's prime. Peep this song with DJ Premier and tell me Nicki is better.

5) Nicki better than Jean Grae???? Bwhahahahahaha. Jean may never get the mainstream love she deserves but she continues to rip every track she gets on. Peep "Say Something" with her and Kweli.

6) Oh yeah, I forgot about Foxy Brown. Let's see - she rapped with Jay-Z, Nas, Fat Joe (when he was still respected) and LL Cool J and stole the show each time, all before she could legally vote. She's probably one of my favorite female MC as far as flow, delivery goes and Nicki couldn't match her.

*And I forgot Shawnna and Eve? Let me stop there. Shawnna might be the next female MC to blow if Battle of the Sexes ever gets released, just watch her live shows why she reps Chicago.

**For a bonus point, I'll throw M.I.A. in the mix too. Nah, that's too easy. The cynic in me says people might think she doesn't rap despite her flow on "Paper Planes", "Boyz" and "Galang". Too easy.

Listen to them and dare tell me that Black Barbie 2.0 stands a chance. She's better off trying to be cast as a video vixen because I hear dudes talk more about her looks than her skill. I can look at you all day but if you have nothing valuable to say, I'll keep it moving.



But sadly, Nicki is the only female MC who's on the radar. This is the problem with the game today, the lack of talent in the mainstream makes us prop up people as the "best" without them earning it through body of work. A rising tide may lift all ships but not all ships were meant to be lifted so soon.

The lack of quality female MC's out right now means that anyone who comes out with a buzz and makes a few mixtapes could qualify as the best. But in the underground, there are talented female MC's who could serve not just Nicki but a few of these guys. I've seen a few in the L.A. scene alone this past year and who knows what else nationally.

That's why Nicki can't be the best. Not even the best in the mainstream. Female rappers stood out because either they hung their own against good to great male MC's or brought something to the table that was unique (i.e. Missy). To me she hasn't and cramming her down hip-hop's throat will only make me vomit her back out from when she came.

It's sad that the only major progress females made in hip-hop this decade has been the rise of video vixens. It's probably why most fans won't take female MC's seriously unless they get sexed up and talk about sex like Kim and Foxy Brown. And probably why most of you will never hear Jean Grae on the radio. Nicki is just the latest to fall in line with this.

By the way, being a Black Barbie brings up a whole discussion of Black beauty and beauty in general - the idea of being like Barbie (a plastic, skinny doll) as the standard of beauty and Black women (women in general even) feeling like they have to cater to this made up image to be considered beautiful. Child, please. (c) Chad Ochocinco

Anyone who dares mention her as a great rapper should be slapped upside their head. If she's the best, the game has truly gone to crap.

*Enjoy the pics fellas.

2 comments:

  1. Nicki Minaj, who in five years will be remembered in some conversation in my car as, "Hey who was that chick you know... she did like really overacted shit in the video. Oh c'mon man, you know who I'm talking about. What was her name? Is it Britney? Yeah, I think it was... oh naw, that isn't it... well, fuck it... anyway, she wasn't that good."

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  2. I watched that BET cypher and it just screamed "I'm trying too hard so let me bug my eyes out so it looks even more like I sucked helium."

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