I think this piece is needed. For Hip Hop, for pop culture, and quite frankly for Ms. Minaj herself. I think it’s time we address the anomaly that is Nicki Minaj and the power a towering giant has in their fall.
Readers who know me know I am a fan of Nicki Minaj, but for the purpose of maintaining and being authentic to a culture larger than my own bias I will remain truthful and transparent. Nicki Minaj saw her claim to fame in a time when female rap was struggling to stay afloat. Her animation and gimmicks were refreshing and exciting and her delivery made her lyrics all the more enticing. But one must wonder when the femcee, who arguably outshined Jay-Z and Kanye West at one point, lost her public appeal. Well I have a theory and her name is Remy Ma. Now hear me out. I am not saying Remy Ma ended Nicki Minaj’s career, but this does mark a turning point in Minaj’s career. A turning point we remember all too well.
Now many female rappers have come and gone during the era of Nicki Minaj but what fellow New Yorker, Remy Ma, did was hit Minaj at a time she was already undergoing public scrutiny after allegations of ghost writing and a break up with MMG rapper Meek Mill. The 7 minute diss record released by Remy Ma was so shocking that many felt this may be the ultimate test of Nicki Minaj. This was the moment she would have to prove why she was the best and defend her seat at all costs. What she did next, however, began a spiral she is to this day struggling to keep wraps on. Rather than respond to the record with the same aggression and energy, she opted for a couple verses where she subliminally addressed Remy Ma. Minaj made the mistake of thinking she was as untouchable as Jay-Z, or even Drake, but her lack of consistency to hardcore rapping seemed to make her more disposable than she was aware. This began the “Nicki Minaj Hate Train”, as Minaj would call it herself. As she frantically tried to prove she was unbothered and still seeing success, the public found her less intimidating than ever before. This blow to Nicki Minaj’s career proved to be a convenient time for many labels to begin strategically pushing other female rappers, most successfully Cardi B.
Fast forward to spring of 2018. Cardi B has broken records and seen significant success and Nicki Minaj has finally returned from a 3 month hiatus with two new singles and double the ferocity. She has made another huge mistake; she has let the drama of the industry and her emotion overshadow the music. As her ego grew and tension was fueled, the anticipation for her album grew as well. This may be the last chance for her to prove herself as the “Queen”.
The Queen album, despite the title, did not measure up. The album showed no clear direction and seemed rushed, which was later confirmed by Minaj when she stated she finished recording 3 hours before it was released. In comparison to her first studio album, or even her last, the album lacked in substance, story telling, and complex bars. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the album still showed exceeding skill from her counterparts but there seemed to be a disconnect that was apparent. It’s a slippery slope for Nicki Minaj at this point. While she will always stay prominent because of her fan base, her next moves can determine whether or not she will lose the good graces of the public for good. Hopefully, for the sake of female rap, she can get it together and help us remember why we rooted for her in the first place.