“I am not Jasmine. I am Aladdin.”
-Nicki Minaj, “Roman’s Revenge”
Nicki Minaj is undoubtedly the most successful female MC to come along in quite some time. She’s charismatic, beautiful, educated and talented. Her 2010 album Pink Friday has produced major hits like “Moment 4 Life,” “Your Love,” and “Roman’s Revenge” and includes collaborations with major stars like will.i.am, Rihanna, Drake, and Natasha Bedingfield. Unfortunately for women, however, she has also used her status as the It Girl of hip hop to collaborate with the trifecta of popular hip hop misogyny: Lil’ Wayne, Kanye West, and Eminem. Far from using her fame to improve the representations of women in hip hop, Nicki Minaj seems to have internalized the chauvinism of her co-collaborators, even using her own album as a platform for expressing the violent and dehumanizing lyrics which have made hip hop synonymous with misogyny in the eyes of the general public. In her collaboration with Eminem, which has spent five weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, she not only turns a blind eye to Eminem’s history with misogyny, but endorses both the subordination of and violence against women by featuring and rapping lyrics which seem to offer little substance other than outright anti-female rhetoric.
To get an idea of how damaging and ridiculous it is for Nicki Minaj to be rapping lyrics like “I’m a bad bitch, I’m a cunt/ And I’ll kick that ho, punt” alongside a rapper famous for songs in which he murders his wife and enlists his baby daughter in dumping her body in a lake, let’s look at it from another angle. Imagine that Eminem was not a misogynist, but a racist. Would it be acceptable, much less celebrated, for an African American Nicki Minaj to rap about lynching black people while Eminem rapped about torturing, killing and belittling African Americans? The idea is absolutely disgusting. Would Adam Lambert, a gay man, invite Eminem to collaborate with him on a song about beating, raping, and torturing gay men? Of course not. And yet Nicki’s lyrics, “Shoulda sent a thank you note, you little ho/ Now I’m gonna rap your coffin with a bow” are totally accepted and even played on the radio without an edit.
The most troubling aspect of Nicki Minaj’s female chauvinism is that she seems to be totally unaware of the fact that her endorsement of anti-woman language has anything to do with her. In the MTV documentary “My Time Now,” she claims that “Roman Zolanski” is a boy who lives in her mind and is responsible for saying the things she can’t say, and that she would like him to “go away.” This is apparently supposed to absolve her of any and all responsibility for the damaging, derogatory language she uses while “Roman” is speaking. Unfortunately, this tactic is no more honest and effective than a child blaming a broken vase on her imaginary friend. Nor are her sexist and misogynistic lyrics confined to “Roman’s” song. In fact, a listener can find chauvinist lyrics and threats of violence against women in almost every song on Pink Friday. From “Bitch talk slick, I’m a have to terminate her” and referring to other female MC’s as “nappy headed hos” in the song “Did it on ‘em” to “And I don’t sympathize, cause you a simple bitch/ I just pop up on these hoes on some pimple shit/ And put the iron to your face you old wrinkled bitch” in “Check it Out,” Nicki Minaj demonstrates that as much as she claims to be “fighting for the girls that never thought they could win” (“I’m the Best”), she is really only fighting for herself.
She repeatedly puts herself above and beyond other women, even beginning “Roman’s Revenge” by saying, “I am not Jasmine. I am Aladdin.” In order to justify the disgusting rhetoric present in the song, she has to begin by denying her gender, thereby implying the threats and verbal attacks to follow will have nothing at all to do with her. This is important, since the song manages to feature some of the most misogynistic and violence lyrics in Eminem’s career, which is really saying something. The fact that they are featured in the album of a female MC cannot go without comment, and makes their hatred and vitriol arguably more detrimental. Even more troubling, at least for women in hip hop, is that the song is reportedly about fellow MC Lil’ Kim, implying that there can only be one successful woman in hip hop at any given moment, and that the woman on top will be the one most willing to throw other women to the dogs. In an interview with MTV, Nicki Minaj claimed to be shock that Eminem would agree to be featured on her album, saying, “I sent him one record, and he didn’t love it. He didn’t say, ‘I don’t love it,’ he just said, ‘Can you send me something that’s a little more me?’ I sent him an e-mail and thanked him for that, for having enough respect. Sometimes people don’t respond. He had the respect, at least, to treat me like a peer.”
You don’t like it then peel off, bitch
Every last women on Earth I’ll kill off
And I still wouldn’t fuck you, slut…
…Bygones will never be bygones
So won’t be finished swallowing my wad
I ain’t finished blowing it, nice bra
Hope it’ll fit a tough titty, bitch
Life’s hard, I swear to God
Life is a dumb blonde white broad with fake tits and a bad dye job
Who just spit in my fucking face and called me a fucking tightwad
So I finally broke down and bought her an iPod
And caught her stealing my music
So I tied her arms and legs to the bed
Set up the camera and pissed on her twice
Look, two pees and a tripod!…
…Make that face, go on, scrunch it up at me
Show me to the target so I can lunge and attack it.
-Eminem, “Roman’s Revenge”