Onika Tanya Maraj emerged from southside Jamaica, Queens and the critics immediately flocked. The massive criticism was initially understandable being that almost every hip-hop fan was waiting on the second coming of Lauryn Hill. Onika, better known as her stage name Nicki Minaj, was the only female rapper whose voice was heard on every radio station, but she was nothing close to the cocoa-complected emcee and songstress that hailed from South Orange, New Jersey. Nicki, a caramel-colored provocative and quirky rhyme-spitter who initially coined herself as Lil Wayne’s mistress, often rocked colored wigs and weaves. Spitting bars like, “I just had an epiphany. I need to go to Tiffany’s. Fendi on my slippers and my cookie’s always slippery,” she was a far cry from the natural loc-wearing, intuitive Hill.
When the self-proclaimed Barbie first copped a mainstream look, people were outraged by her animated voice and ability to switch personas on wax. Confused, many pegged the Young Money signee bipolar. Wearing a straight jacket while rhyming,”Chef cooking for me. They say my shoe game crazy. The mental asylum looking for me” in Ludacris’ “My Chick Bad” vid immediately validated people’s thoughts. But what speculators failed to acknowledge is that Nicki came from a theater background. The showy rapper-turned-singer graduated from LaGuardia High School with a concentration in drama, making her animation far from far-fetched.
Not too long after the speculation about her schizoid personality, many honed in on her questionable bisexuality. Homophobes were outraged and the LGBT community was too, mainly lesbians. Many queer women felt that the Trinidadian rapper only used her alleged bisexuality to woo men. That was until she shut down all accusations during an interview with Black Men magazine, where she clearly stated that she does not have sex with women.
Once the LGBT community forgave and forgot about that fiasco, people deemed her influence on the female image irresponsible. Calling herself a “Barbie” was considered dangerous and detrimental to the self-esteem of young black girls, but it was far from dangerous to Nicki’s career. Mattel ignored the hate and created an official Nicki Minaj Barbie, which was sold for $5,605 at a charity auction.
Throughout it all, a lackluster beef was started with rap veteran Lil’ Kim who claimed that Nicki Minaj stole her style. Nicki Nick, however, continued to create diss records, adding fuel to Kimberly’s fire. Nonetheless, valid disappointment and outrage came on the heels of Nick’s “Stupid Hoe” video, another alleged diss record towards the Queen Bee. But before the criticism of “Stupid Hoe” made its rounds, Nicki broke the record on VEVO for having the highest first-day views ever, accruing 4.8 million views. Regardless of the record-breaking event, perhaps the swift criticism is the reason why BET banned the video.
Nicki is constantly criticized but seems to gain more fans and even more endorsements. While being on the verge of crossing over to becoming one of the biggest pop stars, Nicki snagged herself the title of spokesperson alongside Ricky Martin for MAC’s 2012 Viva Glam campaign. The multicolored wig-wearing future mogul just performed during halftime at the Super Bowl with Madonna and M.I.A. She even made her way to the Grammy’s and the NBA All-Star game in Orlando.
After just a few short years, Nicki Minaj is monopolizing the rap industry, and the doors have cracked open for a variety of female rappers again. Blogs and media outlets are consistently noting the endeavors of newbies Azealia Banks, Iggy Azalea, Brianna the YRB, Nyemiah Supreme and more. It’s time to hop off the Nicki Minaj-bashing bandwagon. Thank her for reopening the door and highlight the myriad of alternatives to her.