Not to write an entire blog dedicated to the lone jewel of Young Money, but whenever men see a woman of stature and fame come across their screen, it ignites comparisons between them and the girls they know in real life. This is why men for years have said they want their Claire Huxtable. Later it was Lil Kim, then Lauryn Hill, and always Beyonce ("so quick to snatch up your Beyonce!"). Nowadays, it's a little Michelle Obama and coming up, the next girl to be on the lips and minds of every young man in America, Ms. Nicki Minaj.
This is not to say Minaj is the ideal. Hardly. With those full lips, narrow eyes, light skin, and crazy (absolutely crazy) style sense, Minaj is more an acquired taste, less a universal prototype. I'm sure by this time, some readers have already called me crazy with no taste. That's fine.
But I'm a man. I know what I like and I like girls who handle their business the way Nicki is handling hers. For the first time in a long time, there is a female MC I am actually excited to listen to and it's not because of her cup size.
Real women do real things, really really well, and Nicki has a good chance of being a female MC fellas can not only respect with their minds but also with their ears. Every dude knows a girl like Nicki, which is a big reason why she can win in this game. The way she looks completely comfortable in a crew of testerone driven rappers reminds us a lot of the girl we always ask to join us when we're getting ready to hit the town. It's as though she says, "Boys will be boys, but they're my boys."
As a man, I have never been able to get past a female MCs gender enough to give a completely objective opinion on them. They were either good, for a girl, or they were just bad, period. But, I have always been very well aware of the fact that for any female MC to actually reach the upper echelons of success in their career as an MC, they're going to have to get the respect of me and every other man who listens to hip-hop. A female fan base does as much for a female MC as it did for HIllary Clinton when she was running for POTUS. It brought her close to the prize, but she needed more men on her side.
The problem with every female MC who has ever come before Nicki Minaj is they have always gone for the girl first, instead of the hip hop head first. Some tried too hard to be one of the boys (MC Lyte, who dudes respect but still won't put in their top 5 and Queen Latifah, who is way more successful as a product of Hollywood, come to mind), and some were too sexual (Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, Trina). Of course, there were some exceptions, I liked Left Eye, but then I found out she burns down the houses of boyfriends who do her wrong, so I was all like, "Uh huh, I don't want a Left Eye." Besides, to like Left Eye was to like TLC and I respected TLC, but did I bump TLC? Scrub please. And of course, there was Lauryn Hill, who we later found out was sleeping with Wyclef, which kind of messed up that pure ideal I had formed in our mind.
What Nicki needs to understand at this stage in her career is the value of being 100 percent comfortable in her skin and her skill set. Don't try to be a role model to women, because women change their minds about role models. And don't try to be every man's crush because men change their minds about crushes.
Nicki Minaj just needs to be a rapper, a good one, and I'll love her long time.
Jozen Cummings is the Special Projects Editor of VIBE.com and hosts his own blog, Until I Get Married.