I came out of the closet the other day. I sat down with a friend, took a deep breath, contemplated his judgments and then said, “I think I like Nicki Minaj.” He asked, “Really?” “Yeah,” I said. His response: “Okay.”
The indifference is understandable. Her personality is garish, her style is overly lurid, and, overall, her music isn’t particularly good. I can’t quite explain why I have feelings of affinity for Nicki, but I’ll try.
Sometimes I listen to my local crap pop radio station just for the hell of it and also just in case that goddamn catchy Carly Rae Jepsen song comes on. Fuck that song and how engaging it is. Anyway, recently, a nasally Nicki Minaj song came on, and out of sheer autopilot, I didn’t change the station.
“Don’t worry bout me, and who I fire. I get what I desire, it’s my empire. And yes I call the shots, I am the umpire. I sprinkle holy water, upon the vampire.”
Goddamn, this is bad, I thought. But something kept me from turning it off. Perhaps it was so bad, that it was good. The same way a pug is an ugly ass dog, but it’s cute, in it’s own butt-ass ugly way. Then the chorus began:
“I wish that I could have this moment for life, for life, for life. Cuz in this moment I just feel so alive, alive, alive.”
Well, that’s nice. Alive. I know how alive feels. Living in the moment, seizing the day—feeling as though you are living life to the fullest. I can sympathize; I feel like that every time I eat a Jello tapioca pudding cup.
That’s how these damn pop songs get you: relateability. And there’s another way they hook you: empowerment. And this song, as terrible as one might find it, evokes a sense of empowerment:
“Young Money raised me, grew up out in Baisley. Southside Jamaica, Queens and it’s crazy. Cause I’m still hood, Hollywood couldn’t change me. Shout out to my haters, sorry that you couldn’t face me. Ain’t being cocky we just vindicated, best believe that when we done this moment will be syndicated.”
Fuck yeah, right? Maybe? While they don’t really mean anything, those words are strong, powerful and determined. It’s easy for suckers like me to get behind that sentiment. It’s nice.
Okay, but it’s one thing to appreciate the tone of a song and another to flat out admit you like the artist against all better judgment. There has to be something more.
And that’s when I saw this video of Nicki Minaj talking about double standards and gender inequality:
“You have to be a beast. That’s the only way they respect you,” Minaj says in the video. And she says it like she fucking means it. She then goes on to make a damn good point: when a dude acts like a bossy asshole, it’s cool. But when a woman does it, she’s labeled an irrational diva.
“When I am assertive, I’m a bitch. When a man is assertive, he’s a boss.”
At least in this video, she’s strong, intelligent, and fucking right on. It’s hard not to watch this clip and want to sign a petition or something. It’s a good video of Nicki Minaj, and it made me fall in love with her a little bit. Also, she sounds like she has a sliver of crazy, and I love crazy.
There’s something powerful about Minaj. And not in a Lady Gaga, “I love everyone and everyone was born this way!” sort of rallying hippie way. Sure, Nicki’s lyrics are terrible, those little voices she does are horribly annoying, and she’s like an even tackier version of Rihanna, which is pretty bad.
But for all her vulgar, unapologetic trashiness, there’s just something about Nicki.