One thing you can say about Nicki Minaj: she sure is fascinating.
The weird voices and multiple personalities, the crazy costumes and the funny colored hair only skim the surface of what makes her attractive, especially to criticism. Folks may not like to admit it but we really do just love to hate Nicki Minaj, even when the reasons are unclear.
Yesterday, her critics were the ladies of “The View,” particularly Barbara Walters, who had spoken to Mariah Carey about the now infamous explosion on the set of “American Idol.” Reading from a statement, Carey, through Walters, claimed that Nicki Minaj threatened to shoot her on the set of “American Idol” after Minaj criticized Mariah for something rude she said to a contestant. Because of the threat and outburst, Carey, through Walters, says that she doesn’t feel “emotionally comfortable as a judge” but out of love of being a mentor, will continue with the show. And although she doesn’t think anything will come of the threats, she believes that Minaj is unpredictable and has taken the necessary precautions by hiring extra security.
Although the ladies of “The View” mostly attributed the tension to big egos, it was clear whose side Walters was playing on, even going as far as to speculate that “If you put that on writing, it would be a federal offense.” Of course, it wasn’t in writing but a comment allegedly said in the midst of a heated argument. However this hasn’t stopped folks from wanting to believe that the situation went down exactly the way Carey, through Walters, said it did. As a good friend of mine posted on Facebook, which seems to be indicative of how most people feel about this situation, “I just can’t be on Nicki’s side for this. Why is she on the show? She can’t sing, and she doesn’t book talent. AI should never have hired her IMHO.”
Nicki Minaj came on the scene hated. Despite zero competition from other female rappers, thus making her the quintessential queen of the femee, she still couldn’t capture that unifying spirit of sisterhood that previous female rappers enjoyed. Lil Kim would become her first adversary, accusing her of biting her entire style down to the hairs of her multicolored wigs. Minaj would contend that her style was homage to the female rappers before her, including Kim. Lines would be drawn between Team Nicki and Team Kim. Sales of her first album, Pink Friday, would prove that Minaj had triumphed, solidifying her as the new queen of Hip Hop. However the victory was short lived.
The real trouble started upon the arrival of her second album. Music critics blasted it for abandoning her gritty street rap in favor of more dance pop horizons. Minaj would send out a series of tweets blasting some of her fans, including a fan site, which prematurely released her music. After a back and forth among some fans, who took offense and accused Minaj of being ungrateful, Minaj took target at them, tweeting, “And that’s exactly why I’m paying the barbz DUST right now!” Adding: “Like seriously, its but so much a person can take. Good f***ing bye.” Then she deleted her Twitter account to the befuddlement of 11 million followers. This caused many of her “barbz” to jump ship including one of her followers, who wrote via Tumblr, “She doesn’t seem to be leading the Barbz anymore, she jumped right in and became one. #LAME”
Although she would come back to twitter and reunite with some of her most loyal followers, the disdain for Minaj would only grow in strength. Cher took a jab at her after mistakenly assuming that a lyric in Did it On ‘Em (‘If you could turn back time, Cher/ You used to be here, now you’re gone, Nair.’) was a diss towards the legendary singer/actress. Hot 97 on-air personality Peter Rosenberg also took an unprovoked jab at Minaj, suggesting that she was not “real Hip-Hop,” right before she was scheduled to perform during that station’s Summer Jam concert. DMX, who made a career of barking and growling on albums, would publicly criticize Minaj for “stealing bars” with her funny sound effects. Even the president of the United States stopped his busy schedule of running the nation to mic check Minaj about her tongue and cheek Mitt Romney “endorsement” on her mixtape.
Eventually hating Minaj became in vogue and there were no shortage of folks eager to express their displeasure with her, some legitimate, some not so much. Some critics would take offense to some of her more problematic lyrics and question if she was a good role model for young women. One such detractor would even call for a boycott. Others question her talent period and ponder about the state of music that would allow her to be at the top. But despite the criticism, it is clear that the woman does see what she does as art and such takes it very seriously.
Minaj, who played the clarinet in middle school and studied music, visual and performance arts in high school, takes pride in the fact that she writes her own material, something that can’t be said for many male and female rappers on the scene. And in previous interviews, she states that her outlandish style, multi-personalities and fantasy world she created in her music and on stage are her way of escaping from the pain of being reared in a household with a brutal drug-addicted father. “The alter egos allow me to not box myself in and get to a point of total freedom,” she said. Moreover, it is hard to attribute bad role modeling specifically to her, considering that other, more socially accepted entertainers including Rihanna and Beyonce frequently wear skimpy outfits, dry hump the air and sing songs with sex-laden lyrics. Every artist nowadays has a gimmick and let’s face it, Minaj is not the first or the worst of the mediocre offenders. So what makes her rise to stardom less deserving?
And let’s not act like Mariah Carey, who only a couple of years ago was in another beef with rapper Eminem, is not a huge drama queen/diva herself. It was rumored that prior to the start of taping, Mariah was so incensed by Minaj’s addition to the “American Idol” panel that she hung up the phone on the producers. And on the first day of taping, it has been alleged that Carey made it a point to interrupt Minaj several times as she critiqued a contestant’s performance. Likewise, questions remain about who leaked the video, which was taken on a supposed closed set? And then there is Ryan Seacrest, who spoke about Minaj’s freak-out, “We want that! We want them to be on this panel together. This is a good team, a great team, to go out and look for the next “American Idol” . . . the feedback that they give is very good.”
I have no doubt that their “feedback” is very good – for television, for ratings and ultimately for the fledgling “American Idol.”
But let’s say that this “beef” is real and not some publicity stunt, is it so hard to believe that Minaj really isn’t the bad guy here? That it is entirely possible that she is a victim, being baited and bullied by a disgruntled Carey? Sure, she is a black female rapper, who wears weird clothes, makes subpar music and does funny voices. But she is the hottest thing in music right now. So hot that the makers of “American Idol” thought it fine for her to share the same stage with a bonafide diva with decades under her belt. So what is there not to hate about her?
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