Through projecting and proclaiming her spot in the rap game while tearing others down, Nicki Minaj’s 'Queen' rollout and aftermath have been anything but royal.
Webster’s Dictionary defines feminism as the advocacy of women’s rights based on the notion that both women and men can be equal in all aspects. A woman, man or whatever gender a person identifies with—who believes they are a feminist—not only fights for the political, social and economic equality of the sexes, but also does not discriminate, pass judgment on or belittle others—especially other women.
There’s comical irony in the fact that Nicki Minaj’s fourth studio album, Queen, appears to be rooted in the grounds of empowerment, despite the New York-bred rapper and her band of followers the Barbz throwing their fair share of ninja stars towards young women who dare critique her. Additionally and unsurprisingly, Minaj sends shots at her female rap contemporaries in an effort to secure her status on wax.
On the Swae Lee-accompanied “Chun Swae,” Nicki revealed that the album was called Queen not to uplift others, but to uplift herself, as she’s the self-proclaimed queen of the game. “You're in the middle of Queen right now, thinking ‘I see why she called this sh*t Queen, This b**ch is really the f**king Queen,’” she maniacally cackles.
While the latter declaration is probably true to her and her fans, it’s not surprising in the slightest that her album features numerous attempts to reclaim her title by berating other “b**ches,” “c***s” and “h**s” in the rap and hip-hop realm. Despite the high point of having a Foxy Brown feature on “Coco Chanel,” there are multiple songs and lyrics perceived as digs at fellow femcees like “LLC” and “Hard White” (plus, Foxy is likely the only female rapper Nicki hasn’t ever had a problem with).
More recently than ever, Minaj’s insecurities with herself and other women seem to be oozing out, likely due to the extreme onslaught of attention-grabbing female rappers emerging in conversations. Her public display of what she believes “Queendom” is seems to be compromised whenever these insecurities come into play.
Not only has she shown time and time again that she’s not above tearing women down when critiqued or questioned, she also encourages others to do the same. “Queen Radio”-Beats1-celebrity-empowerment-powwow-and-female-musical-guests be damned. This album could have stuck better had she attempted to uplift other women in some way instead of projecting and proclaiming the same “I’m the best” notion she always projects and proclaims as a means of validation.
"Every two years I get told about some new female rapper,” she told TIDAL’s Elliott Wilson during a recent CRWN interview. “To me, it's silly to compare me to women because there's no woman that can put up the stats that I've generated."
In May of this year, Minaj detailed on Twitter that the inspiration for her album was Princess Diana, whom she said she admires. “Queen THE ALBUM ~ It’s the strength that causes the confusion and fear,” she wrote of Diana, who in her lifetime displayed grace and courage in the eyes of adversity while helping many others. However, Nicki’s brash behavior on social media shows that feminism is the last thing on her mind.
We were forewarned by her Minajesty's rap world nemesis Remy Ma about her behavior. During a visit to The Wendy Williams Show last year, she explained that the musician was doing “behind-the-scenes” shady dealings to keep Remy out of the public eye shortly after the Bronx rapper dropped her scathing Nicki-pointed diss track “shETHER."
“When you’re trying to stop my bag, when you’re trying to stop me from taking care of my children, then I have a problem with that,” Remy revealed. Musicians such as Azealia Banks, Miley Cyrus, Lil Kim and more have also voiced their disdain with the femcee in the past.
“[Nicki] did what she did, and until she’s ready— hopefully God puts it on her mind to do the right thing, ’cause she knows what she did,” the Queen Bee said of Nicki in a recent interview with LA’s Real 92.3. "Once that happens, hopefully everybody would stop asking me [about her].”
As it’s been documented all-too-well in the news, culture writer Wanna Thompson tweeted a constructive critique regarding the desire for more mature music from Minaj back in June. Later on, Thompson notified the Twittersphere that she was sent a vicious DM from the rapper, and received a barrage of threats from her band of loyal followers.
“Eat a d**k you hatin’ a** h**,” wrote the “Barbie Tingz” musician in the DM, before listing songs in her catalogue with more adult vibes. “...Just say you jealous. I’m rich, famous, intelligent, pretty and go! But wait, leave my balls. Tired of you sucking on them,” she continued. The standom’s threats were reportedly so bad that Thompson was forced to put her Twitter profile on private.
Sure, the age-old adage “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” applies to anyone who makes comments about someone else behind the shield of a computer screen. However, for someone as successful as Nicki Minaj is, what good comes from being immediately defensive once any sort of critique comes into play?
Among the Minaj-written clapbacks found under photos on her Instagram towards women who dare to make negative comments about her? “Must suck to be so jealous, miserable, insecure and ugly;” “you too pressed, too mad, too ugly & forehead too big;” and “you look like a raccoon with a receding hairline.”
The feminism she wants to portray seemingly becomes a facade when she resorts to childishly belittling other women based on their appearance and success as means to validate her fame, fortune and talents. A true feminist wouldn’t turn feminism on and off like a lightswitch when it fits a narrative.
Nicki’s issues with being critiqued don’t just come into play when other women criticize her. In a recent interview with Hot 97’s Funkmaster Flex, Nicki stated that whenever she’s criticized for her work, she immediately jumps on defense, regardless of who is the critic.
"I'm never mad when people give me constructive criticism..I accept things like that," she told the host. "I have an issue when the criticism seems like it's personal or from a bad place, and since I know so many things that are going on behind the scenes that other people don't know. I know there's a lot of people getting paid to voice those opinions." Earlier this year, she also told fans in a now-deleted tweet to “Go beat dat ni**a like he stole smthn” in reference to a young man named Jerome Trammel who called her lyrics “hypocritical.”
Minaj resorting to being childish and cruel towards others when critiqued makes her seem incredibly phony, especially when she tries to promote empowerment from time to time. Because of her insecurities, she tears others down in order to build herself up, something that’s been occurring for quite some time, but has taken a head during the Queen era. Critiques and competition come with the territory of being in the industry you chose.
Earlier this year, Minaj announced a joint tour with Future to support the Queen album. It was later revealed that controversial Brooklyn musician Tekashi 6ix9ine would be joining the NickiHndrxx Tour as an opening act for select dates. Wouldn’t you think that if there’s an album coming out called Queen, that the musician attached to said album would want to bring another femcee on board, and not a young man convicted of and potentially awaiting sentencing for using an underage girl in a sexual performance?
“You can say whatever you wanna say about [Tekashi], I saw something in him that made me really like him,” she told Rob Markman in a Genius talk during the wee hours of Aug. 16. “I’m paying it forward...he’s not perfect, he’s not...the most lyrical person, but there’s stuff that’s dope about him.”
Despite his "talents and personality," this is a slap in the face.
It’s a slap in the face to female rappers like Maliibu Miitch, Asian Doll and Kash Doll, budding superstars who likely would have jumped at the chance to go on tour with a musician who has applauded each of them in the past.
It’s also a slap in the face towards her female fans as a whole. Tekashi is a pretty popular act (so I’ve heard), and by bringing him along, it proves that Nicki is more invested in money and publicity than she is about protecting young women, given his conviction of using a minor in a sex act. Granted, she’s had other women open up for her on tour in the past, such as Dej Loaf and Tinashe, but if she were to leave a seat at the table open for a female artist to join her on the road, this fall’s NickiHendrxx surely would have been the best opportunity.
While she hasn’t been the poster child for feminism, Minaj has had a few moments in the past where she’s made attempts to uplift other women. During her sit-down interview with Zane Lowe of Beats 1 at the top of this year, she praised the work of Azealia Banks and Cardi B. Then, of course, 2014 gave us her body-positivity anthem, "Anaconda."
“I wanted to say, ‘Hey ladies, you’re beautiful,’” Minaj told ABC News of her high-charting hit and its underlying meaning of body positivity amongst the voluptuous women of the world. “Hopefully, this changes things and maybe it won’t change things, but I love it.” Lastly, in 2015, Nicki spoke out against the media when she believed she was shut out of the MTV VMA category for “Video Of The Year” because of her undeniable thiccness.
“If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year,” she tweeted. Given her platform, it’s fine for Nicki to be empowering through body positivity and to speak out about issues that black women in particular face in many industries. However, it’s not okay to pick and choose what type of feminist to be when it’s convenient, and it’s especially not okay to tear down someone less successful (or someone you don’t know) whenever you feel threatened.
Being as transcendent and important an artist as she is, Nicki Minaj should be above the petty social media nonsense by this point in her career. However, no superstar, regardless of the success they’ve accumulated, should be above uplifting and supporting women to be their very best. There’s far more to feminism than empowering others to embrace their sexuality, and if she’s going to base an entire album on the power of “queendom,” she ought to practice what she preaches.