Dear Nicki Minaj,
I own AllHipHop.com.
AllHipHop has been historically uber supportive of the rapper Nicki Minaj. That’s YOU, homie! When I say historically, we can take it all the way back to when you had to stand in line to get into parties or those grimy underground videos you once pumped out on the streets. You know, that period of time before Lil Wayne and Young Money. Along the way, something changed. This isn’t the change everybody wants to talk about though. No hate there. AllHipHop had published an old image for some reason or another some years ago. You remember the one of you licking a lollipop and evoking the now-classic image of Lil Kim in all of her crotchiness? Of course you remember your version of that image, because you asked us to take it down through a member of the team. The team member let us know that Nicki is no longer on that and is doing a lot to promote a new image – “blah blah blah.”
But, guess what? Not only do I run AllHipHop, I’m a father, too.
For a moment there, I felt like I had briefly peered into the deepest recesses of Nicki Minaj’s true inner self, a being that cares how this ratchet s**t affects my kid. I said to myself, “Self, how cool is this? Nicki is already evolving into somebody that my daughter may get to listen to on my watch. Maybe.” I’ve been in the music game a minute now so I know how it goes. So, when I peeped the artwork for your latest single, I wasn’t even shocked, I was just disappointed. The song: “Anaconda.” The art: your booty in a thong. As a man, I can appreciate the virtues of your perfect posterior. The dad guy is not a happy camper, particularly now that his lil’ girl is transitioning into a young lady.
Now, the most popular, current Black female rapper starts overtly pushing her hyper-sexualized image again?
Just my luck.
I’m trying to raise a young girl that will eventually grow into someone greater than the both of us. I know that this requires great parenting, great education, great luck and an assortment of great influences. I’m sure you know the influence you wield, but now, if you told the “Barbs” to scratch my eyes out, some would attack without thinking about it. I’m sure some will also replicate the “Anaconda” image without thinking about it too. Your original image already has 256,817 (and counting) likes under the original Instagram picture you posted, so I venture that your average girl could strive to get a couple hundred likes from her friends. Is this the path you want to lead impressionable kids down?
Make no mistake about it, you’re a leader now.
I love the era of Hip-Hop where I found my influences. They were all over the place, ranging from Chuck D and Public Enemy to LL Cool J to KRS-One and Boogie Down Productions and others like De La Soul. Even the so-called gangster rappers had something to offer. Ice Cube, Scarface and Willie D of the Geto Boys, and Ice-T all get nods for being influential in my upbringing. I don’t know all of those that impacted you as a young woman, but how dope would it be if you transcended what people expected of you? Like, how cool would it be for your transformation to extend beyond NOT wearing blonde wigs and crazing clothing?
This year alone, Black people lost titans in Maya Angelou and Ruby Dee. Those women were entertainers as well and the impact they have had on the lives of their constituency can never be understated. They SERVED the people and they knew that–without that mutual love and respect, we both cease to exist. Ruby and Maya didn’t live perfect lives, but their imperfections made their greatness all the more clear. Imagine you being regarded in such a way? The way Lauryn Hill, Queen Latifah and MC Lyte have been for their communities? I know, times have changed, but one thing is for sure: careers can come and go. Legacy stays.
I can’t lie. My kid barely knows who you are and if she does, its rooted in “American Idol” or something like that. (She does like your bars on “Shanell’s song “Cupid’s Got A Gun.”) I’ve sheltered her on purpose though, all the while letting her read about heroic females in music and culture. As she gets older, it will be harder for me to limit her exposure to you, especially if you continue to do headline-grabbing moves like the “Anaconda” cover. I don’t want to EVER see her posted up one day emulating you the way I “fought the power” like I was Chuck D’s little brother back in 1989. Or, the way you emulated Kim.
For a moment, forget my daughter and lets talk about you. My interactions and observations tell me you are this sweet, kind person at heart. When you get a quiet moment answer the following questions.
How is Onika Tanya Maraj doing?
How does she truly feel about Nick Minaj right now?
What is your higher purpose with young girls (and boys)?
What is the message you are sending when you determine how you will inspire these young people?
How will boys, already conditioned to sexualize girls at a young age, internalize this big booty of yours?
Where does the gimmick end and you begin?
Believe it or not, I care. I think you are dope. You’ve bodied some of my favorite artists on songs like “Monster.” Yet the possibly of you transcending this gnaws at me, because I know you don’t have to succumb to bottom feeding.
When the request was made to remove that image from my site, I complied. I complied – not because I had to – but because I truly respected you for taking that position. On the lecture circuit, I’ve even defended you from those that feel you are a detriment to the community, down to the Barbie imagery. (I have no love for Barbie, you know. Read that here.) I’ve done this based on what I think is a glimpse of what you really desire , which is to be a more positive role model of some sort for young girls who are under siege out in these streets. Now, you take this squatting position on the cover of a song called “Anaconda,” which I am sure radio will play until its played out. I’ll be on Spotify though and so will my daughter when she’s with me.
All in all, this is a letter born from love. A love of my kid, a love of Hip-Hop and a love for the potential that lives in one Onika Tanya Maraj aka Nicki Minaj.
P.S. You think you could follow me on Twitter again?