I’m tired of hearing the sentiment that Nicki Minaj is a garbage rapper.
I’m at the point where I’m considering giving up talking about her in public. Every time someone calls Nicki trash, I’m immediately suspicious of their taste.
If you wanna critique Nicki, go right ahead. I support reasoned critique. I also support you saying you don’t like her. What I don’t and will never support is saying she’s trash, and trying to make your opinion sound like fact.
If you wanna critique her, say you don’t like her flaunting Eurocentric beauty standards.
Valid. What I’ll point out is that whether or not it’s surgically enhanced, that fat ass of hers isn’t Eurocentric by any stretch, but there are elements to her appearance that are; that’s valid.
Say that Nicki’s over the top, or too much. Valid.
I’ll never tell you your feelings aren’t real, but that opinion is just that: your opinion. They key word omitted in the statement “Nicki’s too much”: “me/my”. “Nicki’s too much for me“; “Nicki’s too much for my taste.”
Say that you don’t like Nicki’s subject matter. Valid.
Still subjective, but valid. Misses the point that you can have lyrics while rapping about trash, but valid.
What you won’t say and still have my attention is that Nicki has neither bars, nor talent. Nicki has wordplay. She has soundplay. She has cultural references out the ass. She has an unrivaled command of cadence. If that’s not talent, define the word for me. Nicki’s a beast and I’ll prove it quantitatively (but not exhaustively) below — and I’ll do it without referencing her verse on Kanye’s “Monster”.
“I’m good with the ballpoint game finger roll”
This line from Truffle Butter shows an adeptness with words and imagery you’d hafta be a hater to not appreciate. With that 1 line Nicki did a number of things:
1. Referenced basketball. 2. Gave you a visual of moving a pen back and forth between her fingers. 3. Told you that signing contracts is nothing for her. She’s used to it; she’s bored. She’s to the point where she’s playing with her writing utensil while conducting business. She did all this without ever saying “I’m so bored in these meetings, I sit back and play with my pen while my people hash out details.” That’s clever.
“Wrists on brrr/ pussy on brrr-rr”
Nicki rhymes sounds and what she’s saying still makes sense. Instead of saying she’s blinged out, she told you her wrists are on freeze by making the sound for cold. Instead of outright calling her vagina her kitty and telling you that it’s ready for action, she made the sound for cat. It may not be philosophically prolific, but you know what? That’s clever.
“I’m dunking on em/ Lisa Leslie”
“Did you ever really lub me Stebie”
“Like MJ doctor/ they killing me/ Propofol/ I know they hope I fall”
Nicki draws from a wide range of subjects to make connections, regularly. In the examples above, we have the WNBA, Love & Hip Hop Atlanta and Michael Jackson’s death. Whether or not you find it appropriate she’s also alluded to Malcolm X, Donald and Ivanka Trump, Die Hard in both word and album imagery. This list of her references is so extensive, I could only justify listing them all if this were an academic thesis. Point is: you hafta be consuming/ingesting a lot to be both aware of the breadth of things she references and to use them the way she does. She’s clever.
Command of cadence
“Flawless city with these flawless titties/ I got all these hundreds, you got all them fifties/ I’m with some flawless bitches ’cause they be mobbin’ pretty/ ‘Cause niggas love bad bitches that be on they grizzly/ Throw that ass back I be on my frisbee/ Princess cut diamonds/ on my Disney”
“Hit them with the back shots/ hit them with the ass shots/ Take ’em to the bank then I hit them with the cash drops/ I do it big/ I hit them with the caps lock/ I’m gonna ball/ I hit them with the mascot/ No I never been there/ but I like to Bangkok/ Big fat titties when they hanging out my tank top”
Whether you’re of the opinion that Nick only goes HAM on features, she’s still an emcee that any sane manager or producer will tell their artists not to follow. If you haven’t mastered the slow flow or some other interesting delivery to juxtapose against Nicki Minaj’s flow switching, double and triple time flows, your verse is bound to be boring in comparison. She does a lot in 16 bars that’s comparable to the likes of Tech N9ne, Busta Rhymes, Jay-Z and Big Pun.
I don’t care if this makes any dent in your opinion of Nicki Minaj’s music. But if you can look at this list and still say she’s garbage, you’re a hater. Point blank. Thankfully, art doesn’t become art because of one critic’s opinion and no rapper including Nicki, will live or die by yours.