Forget Miley: What Exactly Is Nicki Minaj Doing To Promote Diversity In The Industry?

September 4, 2015  |  

The first time I realized that I have a deep disdain for Miley Cyrus was during this past Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards.

She has always irked me. To be specific, it irks me when she sticks her tongue out, wears those stupid Lolita-inspired buns, and, you know, makes her annoying music. But her irksome ways never pushed me to the point of disliking her.

I remember going to the supermarket and hearing one of her songs play over the store’s sound system. A man walked past me and said something about how Miley Cyrus is destroying our nation. I guess he expected me to share in his condemnation. But I was like “What? Um, okay. Ha-ha-ha…”

Women always get blamed for the downfall of society, so I wasn’t too keen on co-signing his observations – until I started reading Cyrus’s comments about Nicki Minaj. In particular, the dismissive tone she took towards the rapper’s grievances over the lack of body and other kinds of diversity among this year’s VMA nominees for Video of the Year.

It was this comment, in particular, made in the New York Times, which roused the bees in my bonnet:

I didn’t follow it. You know what I always say? Not that this is jealousy, but jealousy does the opposite of what you want it to — that’s a yoga mantra. People forget that the choices that they make and how they treat people in life affect you in a really big way. If you do things with an open heart and you come at things with love, you would be heard and I would respect your statement. But I don’t respect your statement because of the anger that came with it.

This was when I realized that Cyrus’s self-proclaimed feminism ain’t all that intersectional. I don’t want to get into all the ways her statement grated at me as I feel that many other writers on this here Internet have done a beautiful job of taking her to task already. But what I will comment on is this idea that Minaj, who, mind you, didn’t come out of pocket in those original tweets, needed to have her tone policed. You know the thing that people do when they can’t defend themselves against a statement and can’t refute it? They blame their inability to do so on how you said it. As if Minaj is supposed to ask polite permission first to be taken seriously.

Still, despite Cyrus’s simple comments and Minaj’s complaints, who really cares? This entire beef is all centered around stupid validation from an already problematic institution (and I am talking about MTV here). And none of it really is having any effect on our lives. I totally get that. But for an artist like Minaj, who is making both money and a name for herself in the industry, it has to burn that her efforts are not being fully recognized. That’s why I get her impromptu call-out of Cyrus during the award’s show.

And yet, as beautifully frank as that call-out was, there is something that kind of bothered me about it all. It has nothing to do with the comments made recently by talk show host Wendy Williams about Cyrus only being a kid. As far as I am concerned, if Cyrus is old enough to talk sh*t to an elder, she is old enough to get called out for it.

But rather, I started to think: Just how committed is Minaj to promoting diversity within the industry?

What I mean is that in the span of her entire career, I have yet to see Minaj promote any new artists, particularly a Black woman artist in the industry. Not a rapper (though there was an awkward compliment given to Dej Loaf at the BET awards). Not a singer (minus an already heavily established Beyoncé). Not a single other Black woman.

According to this Nicki Minaj Wiki page, she has tons of collaborations, including a couple of tracks with Miami-based rapper Trina, and, of course, Beyoncé. However, most of her collaborations have been features on other people’s albums. And the grand majority of those have been with well-established pop (i.e. White mainstream) artists and male rappers. Some of those collaborations include the very people she now denounces.

I remember there was a time when all the popular women who rapped during a particular era would get together and do lady anthems. There was also a time when artists, including the lady ones, would try to promote up-and-coming rappers in the industry. But while Minaj has been good at promoting herself, I can’t say the same about her efforts for others. Granted, the way Lil’ Kim came at her upon her arrival on the scene probably influenced why Minaj seems content on holding the lane just for herself. I get it, but it’s not necessarily right.

So while I agree with her that Cyrus was out of line, I would also have more sympathy for her cause if Minaj was helping to bring more sisters up and along in the industry.


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