This girl is off her rocker. Crazy. Cray-zay. But tell me she is not the best thing to hit hip hop since Kanye. TELL ME.
I can see why you might be hesitating. You’re thinking she’s just another female MC (because we have too many of those?). She spits lewd, eff’d up, incomprehensible, offensive lyrics. She perpetuates the rap world’s blatant and incurable misogyny, she uses her (bi)sexuality as a trope to lure male fans.
But you’d be wrong.
Well, mostly wrong. She’s full of contradictions, but relatively speaking, far less than most chart-toppers in all genres and really, they don’t out weigh the goods.
And the girl got goods!!
Where, on the surface, her sexuality and WILD persona are just attention-getting schemes, her lyrics tell a different story. So she’s sexual and… weird. But she’s also in charge. She’s choosing it and owning her choices. And she loves her beauty, which is miles from our Euro-centric ideal (“she’s on a diet but her pockets eating cheese cake…pink wig thick ass give em whiplash”). April Gregory at Racialicious:
Everything she does is of her own volition, and she is not submissive to patriarchy. Rather, Nicki takes patriarchal notions of femininity and womanhood, reclaims them, and makes them work for her.
If that isn’t the definitely of a feminist I don’t know what it.
“You Could Be the King But Watch the Queen Conquer”
And she goes toe-to-toe, peer-to-peer with the boys. Kanye, Jay-Z, Will.I.Am, Drake, Lil Wayne. She’s not just singing background, she’s got equal weight of the verses with these guys. From MTV’s My Time Now documentary:
“I don’t have anything else to fall back on. […] I’ve been told forever that you’re not gonna sell. No one’s gonna get you. Don’t sound too smart. You can only be a part of a crew. And I just know there are so many women who get told these things every day. I used to think this was all about me. But I’m not doing this for me, I’m doing it for them.”
By “them”, she means the girls that make up her relatively young fan base. As she’s risen, she’s taken herself as role model seriously:
all the girls will come in, as long as they understand
that i’m fighting for the girls, that never thought they could win
cause before they could begin you told’em it was the end
but I am here to reverse the curse that they live in
(“I’m the Best”)
She’s relevant, she’s on 7 tracks in the Hot 100 at once, and she’s a bad-ass role model, all at the same time. MMMM.
And her verses ohmygod. Her rhythm, staccato, variety — she’s got at least five distinct personalities — are impressive. And they’re all on her verse in Kanye’s song Monster. I could go on, but writing does no justice to listening. GO!
Of course she’s still rapping about money, exploits, cars, women, men, all the above. But she’s doing it a.) well, b.) because she wants to and c.) on many continuums: weird, beauty, sexuality. FULL PACKAGE!!
I’m all up all up all up in the bank with the funny face
and if I’m fake I ain’t notice cause my money ain’t