The impact of Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” is irrefutable. When the single cover was released, it instantly went viral and spawned a series of memes that quickly spread across the Internet—one of the better contemporary examples we have to measure how impactful something is. Similarly, at a time when the music video still has to fight off the rising stigma of obsolete, the visual for “Anaconda” racked nearly 20 million views in the process—at the time smashing a VEVO record. “Anaconda” was huge both sonically and visually—further cementing what proved to be a banner year for the rapper.
Suffice to say, it ought to be relatively easy to see why Minaj was a little pissed for not netting what she felt is the honor she deserved. Regardless of how anyone feels personally about “Anaconda,” its great success negates that sentiment (as it does in most cases such as these). It was a big deal in a climate where very few things are anymore. It deserved to be nominated for Video of the Year. Maybe it should have won, maybe it should not have, but at the very least, it deserved to be a part of the conversation.
Black women are highly influential in pop culture and rarely are they ever rewarded for it.
The crux of Nicki Minaj’s argument is true: Black women are highly influential in pop culture and rarely are they ever rewarded for it.
No, awards are not everything, but the series of thoughts Nicki Minaj expressed yesterday on Twitter about a black female artist—specifically, a black female rapper—being marginalized are a continuation of frustrations Minaj has expressed throughout her career.
All too often has she been damned if she do, damned if she don’t.
When the video for “Anaconda” came out, men felt compelled to slut-shame her. Hip-hop has long been hypersexual and demeaning to women, but suddenly these men developed a conscious. So much so that they felt compelled to condemn Minaj for her choosing to take the stereotypes forced upon women who look like her and make it something all her own. Likewise, much of Minaj’s The Pinkprint promotional time was spent rightfully chiding men about their fucked up views of women in hip-hop.
As impressive as Minaj is as a rapper, what’s most admirable about her is that she has managed to thrive despite the successful female rapper in music being a relic. She single-handedly revived that portion of hip-hop, and no, she has not gotten the credit she deserves. Some of that is her fault—a solid debut, a not-so-solid follow-up, and the best culmination of her many facets on her third offering. Even so, there are artists—notably without much melanin and/or with a penis—who still manage to get widespread celebration and acknowledgment despite having less skill than acts like Minaj.
That’s why it was frustrating watching Taylor Swift interject herself into Nicki’s moment. I don’t believe Nicki Minaj was taking any shots at Taylor Swift, but even if she felt the opposite way, the least Swift could have done is ask first before turning to lectures and victimhood. It might’ve also been a great idea for Swift to pause for a second and realize that even if she felt Nicki’s gun was aimed in her direction, she was shooting an overall disease as opposed to one of its many symptoms.
It might’ve also been a great idea for Swift to pause for a second and realize that even if she felt Nicki’s gun was aimed in her direction, she was shooting an overall disease as opposed to one of its many symptoms.
Taylor Swift essentially hit Nicki Minaj with the musical equivalent of “All Lives Matter.” Swift exploited feminism to curtail a conversation about race and double standards (or flatly, misogynoir). What was comically ironic about Swift’s complaints is that she was looking to blast Minaj for “pitting women against each other” although what she was defending, “Bad Blood,” is said to be a diss aimed at Katy Perry.
Swift ultimately backed off and offered Minaj the chance to join her on stage if she wins Video of the Year, but mainstream media seized upon the story and lent further credence to her complaints. Nicki Minaj was portrayed as the bitter black bitch caricature, and Taylor Swift, the poor defenseless angel. The lead images for Minaj were mostly angry, and Swift, passive. Minaj “threw jabs” and then came sexist cries of “catfight!”
Some altered this, but only after people on social media—Minaj herself and present company included—called them on it.
Taylor Swift should have aligned herself with Nicki Minaj, not made it about her. And even if you’re not a fan of Nicki Minaj, at the very least, you could give her the benefit of the doubt. In the end, even if you don’t think “Anaconda” is the best example of an artist being wronged, in the case of Nicki Minaj, in terms of both gender and race, there are numerous examples.
Yesterday, she sounded fed up, but she has been for a while. As she should be.
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem, and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him @youngsinick.