Nicki Minaj – Rap Gimmick or Rap Artist? Barbie or Barbwire?
OK so many of you that know me know that I’m big on lyrics so whenever I speak on a rap artist I will always assess lyrics, metaphors, clever wordplay etc. Now Nicki Minaj has recently blown up before our very eyes, she has the internet going nuts, featuring on every other hot track or remix you can think of, sort of like a female Lil Wayne (we will get back to that comparison a little later).
The aim of this post is to break down the hype surrounding Ms Minaj and assess her lyrical ability. She is currently the forefront of her own “Barbie movement” which in essence has brought some criticism by many; artists included. There is also the speculation surrounding her cosmetic enhancements. However should this overshadow the issue of whether she can or can’t spit? Or is it that she cannot spit and many are sidetracked by her sexy image? I will be assessing the criticisms put forward by industry critics while also assessing her flow and wordplay.
One of the main things Nicki has been criticised for is the fact that some believe she has not got her own flow/rhyming style. So lets look at that for a minute, now I actually heard of Nicki Minaj back in like late 2007, early 2008 and I thought she had something but I did not think she had the potential to blow. Nicki back then sounded and looked very different, she had a fiery flow but it reminded me of late 90’s Foxy Brown, but with a slight twang in accent, . This initially made me overlook her to an extent. This is obviously just my opinion so take a look and make your own mind up.
However fast forward a few years to 2009 and with the release of the Beam Me Up Scotty mixtape we see a difference in her flow and rhyming style. This change appeared more obvious as she signed with Lil Wayne’s Young Money Records. Now many have said that her current flow is just an imitation of Lil Wayne, who acting as her mentor and helped fast track her career. I can see where they came to this conclusion as I had similar thoughts myself, however again see for yourself.
Check from 1 min 10 secs into A Millie and again from 3 mins 23 sec…there is an uncanny similarity within the flow of Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne, the way they both switch their flow halfway through a verse to create an animated goofy sounding rhyming effect. I myself do actually like it, it brings life to the verse however this in itself adds fuel to the fire about the originality of Nicki.
One thing you cannot take away from Miss Minaj is that from day 1 she did have lyrics, as time has progressed so has the progression of her word play. When you remove the sound of her flow her rhyming style and use of metaphors are very impressive. She has the ability to rip a track apart, I could post up many tracks out at the moment where she is featured and owns the track but the issue is lyrics. Personally from what I have heard from her she is quite capable of holding her own around most of Raps female elite. She is not only lyrically sharp but she is also able to hold an actual track to herself which some rappers today are incapable of doing. Peep My Chick Bad by Ludacris, she spits:
“Now all these bitches wanna try and be my besty
But I take a left and leave them hangin like a testie
Trash talk to ‘em then I put ‘em in a Hefty
Runnin down the court I’m dunkin on ‘em, Lisa Leslie!
It-it-it-it-it’s goin down, basement
Friday the 13th, guess who’s playin Jason?
Tuck yourself in, you better hold onto your teddy
It’s Nightmare on Elm Street and guess who’s playin Freddy?!
Chef cookin for me
They say my shoe game crazy, the mental asylum lookin for me
(Ha ha ha ha) You a rookie to me
I’m in that wham-bam purple Lam’, damn bitch you been a fan“
When Nicki initially came in the game she had a slightly different persona. Streetwise, sex-crazed, “get money”, “rap bitches step your game” up mentality. Currently she has changed and created the “Barbie movement” which has caught on and spread like wildfire. She has said in interviews that she has slightly moved away from the sexual lyrical content that she used to spit as she wants to be taken seriously as an artist.
You can actually see this change as I have some old Nicki Minaj that I couldn’t post on here due to the sexually explicit content. But now she rhymes differently and often pulls crazy, goofy faces in videos and often rap with a slighty masculine voice. This is clearly an attempt for her to appear less attractive, however although she is a lot less sexual lyrically you cannot ignore the changes in her appearance over the years surgery-wise, so it is at times slightly confusing as to the point she is trying to get across.
Regarding the issue of her not having her own signature flow, I personally think it is maybe slightly exaggerated because it is fair to say that she has borrowed parts of her flow from Weezy but then that’s what everybody said about Ja Rule and DMX, Shyne and Biggie. What’s important is that she writes her own rhymes and while I would not say she is in my top 5 female rappers or on my regular iPod playlist I do think that she is a problem, and in an industry where currently there are next to no female rappers she is definitely leading the way.
To say that Nicki does not go hard lyrically would be a lie, as you will see below she is more than capable of shutting down a track to the point you sometimes forget who else features on the record. Peep the 2009 BET Rap Cipher above. Granted, Joe Budden holds his own but jheeze…. Nicki cleans up.
The whole reason for me posting up this piece is because since Nicki has come out there have been arguments each way as to her lyrical ability, her image, her whole rap persona. So I felt the need to assess the situation as a whole because everybody deserves a fair trial. While I think some of the criticisms are justified to an extent however lets look at who as been most vocal with their criticisms. Khia - who has not had a hit record since 2002, Lil Mama – whose album didn’t sell too well and Kid Sister who didn’t sell either. Now it could be said that there maybe a big link between the downfall of these artists careers, the rise of Nicki’s career and the need to comment, are they hating? You decide.
Nicki Minaj has a new track out called Massive Attack, peep the official video (all the videos on Youtube were removed due to copyright infringements, however was able to track down 1 but it has been split into 4 separate screens which is annoying but at least it has the audio. Video should be available for all public viewing soon):
This is the official release from her debut album and has the industry split on whether it is Hot or Not, but again YOU be the judge. The album itself has no release date, which probably means that it will not see the light of day for sometime.
Based on the regular backlog of industry album releases and with Lil Wayne currently residing behind bars, it is likely that Minaj’s album release date will get pushed back further than Wayne Brady’s hairline (along with Drake’s release date)….a term I like to call “Wayne Brady’d“.
Truth be told Nicki is no Jean Grae or Lauryn Hill but credit where credit is due, you cannot deny that she has got a likeability factor, she is having fun with it and does not take herself seriously which is always a good trait to have.
The whole Barbie image aside, she can most definitely spit flames, i won’t lie I do love me some Nicki Minaj. (Peep Robin Thicke going stupid hard at 35 secs).
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Feel free to leave your comments below!!
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