She’s currently the most talked about rapper. Hands down.  This little lady’s fame is rivaled only by the king of controversy himself, Kanye West. But when we talk about the female wave of rappers, Nicki has certainly staked her claim and made her mark. 

       Let me first say that I am a fan of Lil’ Kim. Like it or not, it matters. For the younger generation of listeners, Lil’ Kim is now just a played out “has been” as Nicki slyly addresses to a nameless target in “Roman’s Revenge“. But if you’re old enough to remember the most recent wave of female rappers (including Trina, Foxy, Eve, Da Brat, Missy Elliot and many more) you know how hesitant I might be to hand the crown over to Miss Minaj. And Miss Minaj herself understands my hesitance. 

       When Nicki first appeared on the scene, I was skeptical as most. I was, without holding back, comparing her bar to bar with Kim who will , in my eyes, forever be the Queen. You have to understand that for me, Kim was the first female to stand toe to toe with men on a lyrical basis. The only female who could get on a track with Notorious BIG, Jay-Z and the rest of them and hold her weight. To absolute annihilate the track. I mean, think back on Kim’s verse on “All About the Benjamins“. I challenge anyone to show me a hotter verse. Hers was the best verse in the whole fucking song. So Nicki had a lot to prove to me over time.  I mean, I think we were all haters. I know I was and I highly doubt there is even one day-one Nicki fan. The girl is pretty and her looks have gotten her a long way in the game. Not to say that she can’t flow, but image is a a more influential part of Hip-Hop than it ever has been. Nicki might be the most attractive female Hip-Hop artist we’ve seen thus far. Although taste changes with time… we all have to admit that baby girl is BAD at a reported (but not verified) 34-26-45 which is astounding if she’s 5’2. & I LOVE that she’s 5’2. The baddest bitches are all 5’2, ya know: Jada Pinket-Smith, Eva Longoria(used to be)Parker, Salma Hayek….. & yours truly 😉 lol
        “Everything I try to teach ’em, the gonna see it in time” in the appropriately titled “I’m the Best” which just so happens to be track #1. She’s come into the game strong and not only made her mark in the eyes of those within her Young Money camp, but respected lyricists like Mr. West & President Carter as to have been featured with them on West’s single, “Monster” (& she ripped the verse, might I say). Minaj also features Mr. West on her debut album in  “Blazin’” where she attacks the beat furiously as she busts a BustaBust-like flow, addressing the situation I just described with charisma and a talented, playful way with words: 

How could it be little me
had the power to be
the best B in the league. 
Yea, inevitably.
But could it be?
Little me  you was heckling me?
Now its monotony 
when I regularly 
I catch wreck on recreation. 
So I exceed all your expectations.
Bitches aint got it in ’em. 
I kill ’em and then I skin ’em. 
The contact was signed
but I am the addendum.  

       You either love or hate her & her Barbie movement. But if you hate it, it might simply be that you don’t understand. 

The whole album is crack
you aint even got to skip a track
I aint gotta get a plaque
I aint got to get awards
I just walk up out the door
all the girls will applaud
all the girls will commend 
as long as they understand 
that I’m fighting for the girls
who never thought they could win
cause before they could being 
you told them it was the end
But I am here to reverse 
the curse 
that they live in. 
        I’ve mentioned this ordeal before in my post Black Barbie: The Baddest Barbie in the World, the unfortunate circumstance that throws young Black girls into a state of self-loathing because of their skin color. We are typically considered the bottom of the bucket and the prettiest of us are usually lucky enough to be “pretty for a black girl.” No matter how you phrase that, it always hurts. Like we can only be but so beautiful and our skin color is holding up back from this other level of attractiveness that we can’t seem to reach. That’s bullshit and I applaud Nicki Minaj for being a sista (although she is a phtoshopped and lightened version) and holding it down for the rest of us. Like she says in “Fly” ft. Rihanna (reviewed Rihanna’s Loud too, check it here)

Everybody wanna try to box me in.
Suffocating everytime it locks me in.
Paint they own pictures, then they crop me in.
But I will remain where the top begins.
Cuz I am not a word. 
I am not a line.
I am not a line.
I am not a girl that can ever be defined. 
I am not fly; 
I am levitation. 
I represent an entire generation. 

     The generation she speaks of is that of a multitude of girls (and women, even) who need a voice. We’ve been silent for so long. It’s been so long since we could stand side by side with men and hold our own (in the Hip-Hop world that is). There haven’t been many songs we could sing along to and exert as much passion and strength as our male counterparts can. For the older “Barbies”, it’s been a while since someone gave us an anthem to to sing to. For the younger Barbs, they finally have someone to call their own. 

     There is a smidgen of humanity in this album that I’m looking forward to hearing more of. We barely know Nicki. This album has shed a beam of light into a very dark hole. But there are still dark corners in there we have yet to see. The song that speaks the most truth and gives further understanding into the ugly beauty of Barbie World is “Dear Old Nicki,” where she literally speaks to the girl she used to be. I’m going to insert the verses here because I think it’s important that you read what she’s saying. I’m afraid there are few people listening to her. I know how that feels, it happens a lot to black girls. 

Maybe you died 
Cuz everybody ask me where you at
I try to channel you in hopes that I can steer you back
But it’s like very intersection, we just missed eachother
you got your fans waitin.
Tell me you aint 6 feet under. 
And tell me that you coming back. That you just took a break. 
Maybe I blamed you for everything. 
That was my mistake. 
In hindsight I loved your rawness & I loved your edge
Cuz it was you who talked me down from jumping off the ledge.
Your earrings bamboo. Your long nails, too. 
Your BMW every time you came through.
You was the braveheart.
You stole Wayne’s heart.
You never switched it up. 
You played the same part.
But I needed to grow and I needed to know.
Were there was something inside me that I needed to show. 
So I just deaded you. 
Left you in all black. 
But damn, old Nicki, please call back. 

You Told Me You’d Come When I Needed You
And You Said It So Sweetly I believed you
But Im Standing Here Calling I Cant See You
But I Am Holding You, Holding You, Holding You To That

Yo, I did chase the glitz and the glamour, money, fame and power?

Cuz if I did, that will forever go down my lamest hour.
I shoulda kept you with me, getting at them nameless cowards.
They was no match for you. 
Couldn’t defeat your prowress. 
I had to make them changes. I hope you understood. 
You see, for every bad, I did a ton of good. 
But you was underground. 
And I was mainstream. I live that life now that we would daydream
My only wish is you come enjoy it with me.
Get on them conference calls. Go meet them lawyers with me.
The money came, yea. I tripled and quadrupled it. 
But I still miss us when we was on some stupid shit. 
But it’s still fuck the media.
They ridiculed you, never believed in ya.
They just deaded you. Left you in all black.
But… Dear, old Nicki,
Please call back. 

      I’m not sure we understand what these artists are going through as human beings. I touched on this a bit in my post “For the Love of Hip-Hop.” These artists feel alone. They are the constant targets of hatred and envy. That last song from Nicki is the best I’ve ever heard an artist explain the image change one goes through when shifting from nothing to something. Especially as a black female, you’re asked to change yourself at every turn. On her old stuff (and those old pictures) Nicki’s image was a lot louder… a lot raunchier. Not sexy… more trashy. Now she’s begun to go over into a more elegant and tasteful sort of sexy that I hope continues to evolve and  demand more respect. I understand her and her torn relationship with herself. How many of us also grow up with an “if anybody says anything to me” attitude, ready to fight at the club and “always down” attitude, the honestly gets you no where and holds you back. This tough exterior isn’t completely an exterior, it becomes who you are and as violent and ill-concieved as it may be, it is what makes you strong. It’s what guides you through and helps you survive goring up in certain places. It’s what “Talk[s you] down from jumping off the ledge.”  

      Nicki is very… very alone. There are few females out there right now (making money) that she can confide in. Most people making money in her industry, who share he mind-frame and upbringing are men. And the women out there making money probably haven’t seen or gone through all the things that’s she’s gone through. Still, this album chronicles a “Moment 4 Life” that she’d definitely want to have on repeat. Nicki is a super pretty bitch now, but she wasn’t always this girly, sex symbol with pink lipstick. But one thing can be said: She made it. Success is the ultimate aphrodisiac: “This moment just reminded me of everything they deprived me of. Put your drinks up. IT’s a celebration everytime we link up. We done everything they could think of. Greatness is what we on the brink of,” she flows in “Moment 4 Life” Ft. Drake. This girl is living life and for any Ella, Barbie, women girl or whatever you would like to call yourself who feels like she’s in her prime, Nicki has hits you’ll definitely want to listen to, cuz she’s the only bitch doin it how it should be done: “Bitch, I get money so I do what I pleases. I live where the muthafuckin pools and trees is. Broke bitches so crusty. Disgust me. Gave the bitch a ride, got the continental dusty… couple wet wipes case a bum try to touch me. Ew!” She’s really a funny, bitch y’all. lol. That’s entertainment. 

     Overall, I wasn’t blown out the water, but I was entertained.  Nicki has started to hang with what I will call the “right” group of people (The Jays and Kanyes) and I hope their genius rubs off on her. She’s capable of deeper contemplation that this album put out. I think she needs to do more studying. More reading. She needs to educate herself about the world around her and find more to talk about. With this, not only will her content grow, but the quality of her writing. Nicki says some cool, witty stuff (like “I am not fly; I am levitation”), but there are certain phrases that can be phrased better. With better vocabulary for example. Her rhymes are too simple for my taste. She needs to develop as a writer. For example, I liked the “addendum” metaphor in Blazin’” and I really wanted more of that.

     I think Nicki has more to say. This was a great start for her as an artist versus a pop star. I look forward seeing Nicki grow and say the things she wants to say without hesitation. I want to know how the real Nicki thinks. I want more verses like those in “Dear Old Nicki,” and “Fly” that express emotion and elicit thought. Dear new/old Nicki –whoever is there –you’re the only voice we have at the moment. I hope you continue to speak for us and use it wisely. To all of our advantages. 

Great start, Nicki. I’m looking forward to more.  

 Oh, & until she can stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill, Nicki Minaj is not the best female rapper. If you disagree, seems to me you haven’t heard much music in your time. Sorry,  Nicki, but you can’t have that title just yet, baby girl –if at all. Only time will tell.