InsecurNicki: The Nicki Minaj Feud

By Austin Primm

I want to preface this by making a statement: I respect Nicki Minaj as a rapper. Honestly, most of my frustration with her, and with most artists I have “issues” with, comes from the fact that I was a fan. I see, or saw, the potential in the artist they have yet to live up to. Rappers who pop off in the game as strongly as Nicki did obviously have a tremendous amount of potential as well as high expectations. Her verse on Monster set her apart from pretty much all her peers. Yes, Cole was on a track with Jay Z. Big Sean had tracks with Kanye. They were both signed to those legends also. Nicki wasn’t associated with either, a relatively new artist, and undeniably had the standout verse on this amazing song. The expectations placed on her were extremely high, but they were earned.

Prior to 2018, Minaj has released three huge albums, gotten more accolades than any other female rapper and most female artists, and had chart-topping singles. Some say she’s lived up to her potential for success. However, the level of her music quality hasn’t had the same triumph. She doesn’t have a classic or even a good album. She honestly doesn’t even too many memorable songs or verses. Personally, I haven’t liked any of her albums and haven’t liked any of her songs too much either. I don’t think she’s trash. I just think I expected to get bars on bars from Nicki but got Pop songs. Her flow is redundant, rhyme scheme hasn’t been altered much, and we’ve been told “these b*tches” are her “sons” countless times. It just seems like she’s been stagnant for a long time. I can’t completely blame her for it. She was the only person in the Female Rapper lane for years, so there was no reason to grow or change what was working. Iron sharpens iron, but there was no other female rapper to better her. I considered her more than just a “female rapper” though. I felt as though Minaj had plenty of male counterparts she could have pit herself against in friendly competition. Or she could’ve done things with Rhapsody, or Missy Elliot, or some other unknown female artist. Alas, she secluded herself from rivalry and, with that, growth.

Without anyone to compare Nicki to, the masses couldn’t do anything but Stan and appreciate her. There was no need to ask for more because they could assume that there was nothing more. Then Iggy Azalea dropped “Fancy,” and we got a glimpse of what opposition could look like. It was a small battle that Nicki clearly won, but it showed a chink in the armor. However, Cardi B happened. Tthe Iggy battle wasn’t a difficult one to win is ‘cause the culture wasn’t behind her. There was no career threat to Nicki. Cardi B, conversely, popped due to the culture being behind her first.  That’s the solid base you need when challenging for a spot. And when Bodak Yellow hit, things got real. Outside of a couple features here and there, Nicki hadn’t had a real radio single since 2014. Three whole years without a word. Nicki’s lane was putting out songs people loved, and a new artist came out with a bigger one than she ever had. Nicki should have been able to fall back on “but I can outrap everyone though” tactics, but that was proven incorrect. Remy Ma got out of prison and immediately barred Minaj into a week-long silence, so she lost the battle of hits and the battle of bars. Once Nicki had competition, the culture began to realize how repetitive and complacent she had become.

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Persons like myself who were on the fence about Nicki still believed she had the potential to beat us over the head with lyrics. Cardi is fun, Remy can rap, but Nicki can do both…but “will she?” was the question. Her album Queen dropped, and I can confidently say it’s a good album. It’s easily her best to date. I can’t say it’s great, but it’s without question not a bad album. One would think she would be proud and rest on the fact that she finally put out an album which was universally received positively, but that is not the case. Instead, she’s spent these first few weeks following the release of the album complaining about not being the number one album, arguing with radio DJs, blaming everyone for why the album didn’t do (Cardi) numbers. A lot of people feel Invasion of Privacy was a better body of work. I think she also feels jealous that Cardi’s first week sales were way higher than hers. Nicki’s reactions and responses to things just come off as extremely insecure for no good reason. She has the number two album, and it’s good! Why not be happy and satisfied with quieting critics with a solid piece of work? Rumors let out that her North American tour dates weren’t really selling. Several sites and sources from Live Nation claim her arena venues that held up to 20,000 were only selling under 5,000 seats in bigger market cities like LA, New Orleans & New York. Later that day, she posted a video on Twitter stating she’s pushing the North American leg of the tour back to Summer 2019 because she didn’t have enough time to rehearse due to pushing her album back. I was skeptical about the ticket numbers being so low, but the coincidence of her pushing the tour back is concerning.

At the end of the day, Nicki Minaj has the potential to be great. I just believe her growth was stunted due to the seclusion of herself. She got to her female rap throne and didn’t have any opposition to the kingdom for a long time. As soon as she had any type of rivalry, instead of embracing it and honing her skills, she fought against it and did what she could to avoid it or deny that competition existed. It’s sad because she can be so good. Nicki has all the right tools, but chooses not to use them. I honestly hope she gets over herself and decides to start rapping like she did during the Beam Me Up Scotty mixtape era. I’d even take her embracing new female artists. There’s no reason Nicki doesn’t have at least 5 songs with different female rappers, but I digress. The point is, Nicki finally put out a good album, but she’s still not satisfied. I’m not sure what she’s insecure about, but it’s unnecessary. I truly hope she gets things figured out, grows and starts giving us the quality of music we believe she can provide!