How “Big Foot” Makes Being A Nicki Minaj Fan Harder Than Ever

On the missed opportunity and failures of Minaj's latest song.

Mike Coppola / Getty Images for MTV

Some songs are like the “ball don’t lie” of the record biz. If you and a friend disagree on a call, you settle things by shooting for it; whoever makes the shot gets the ball. Through years of petty beef and frustrating gaps in new music, Nicki Minaj, like a clutch shooter, would materialize at the last second to render truth through a majestic jumper. With the release of Megan Thee Stallion’s scathing new single, “Hiss,” which references a law that affects Nicki’s husband, who was convicted of attempted rape, Nicki put her name in the ring and promised a scathing track in return to put some much-needed points on the board. But she missed. Badly. 

Released on Sunday, “Big Foot” is a lazily constructed Megan diss track that sees Nicki fail at the one thing she used to be most known for. Its quality, along with the trash behavior preceding it in the form of a social media meltdown that made fans concerned about her alleged cocaine use, is a reminder of why she’s become more synonymous with subtweets than bars, and why being a Nicki Minaj fan has become harder than ever. 

Beginning with its slightly flubbed release schedule, “Big Foot” appeared as sloppy as it was lackadaisical; she stops rapping midway through the song, using the rest of the generic Detroit beat for a muttered rant that’s not even good enough to be a Queen Radio outtake. And when she is rapping, she serves up some of the most bland and tonally casual couplets of her career, packing the track with outdated punchline structures and generic talking points most Megan haters had already said a few years ago. Toward the middle of the track, she unloads a cascade of lyrics that use repetition to build momentum for a climax that simply regurgitates the default Megan–Tory Lanez conspiracy theory: “Barbz, I need a good alcohol bar/Roman, wait, that was the bar/Like a bodybuilder, I keep raising the bar/Fuck you get shot with no scar?”

That’s not all that’s on the song, but it’s an incisive, embarrassing snapshot. All it takes is a cursory listen to see Nicki’s latest has all the creativity of a Twitter search for “Megan and Tory.” Here, she reiterates rumors about Megan hooking up with several rappers, sleeping with her ex-best friend's man, and more. Simply addressing the claims is fair game, but without dynamic turns of phrase, she might as well be reading tweets off her timeline. If this were 8 Mile, this would be the point where B-Rabbit tells Lotto to get more original: “Pay attention, you’re saying the same shit he said.” 

Folks on X have been more than a little disappointed. “Did Bigfoot hit for yall? Won’t lie I was was super excited this battle play out on wax like the old days but if super flopped. Worse than ole girls response to Shether. Rap battles are healthy but this one just didn’t land. Am I wrong?,” wrote media personality Jason Lee. Posting a video of Nicki’s ex-boyfriend Safaree Samuels spitting bars, another user tweeted that “Big Foot” was proof that he was Nicki’s ghostwriter. “Can we please admit that Safaree has been the Queen of Rap that y’all was liking all these years? I can’t believe y’all couldn’t tell he wrote her shit and after they broke up she hasn’t been able to reach those same rap heights without him. Her real skills is BigFoot….THE TRUTH,” wrote the user. 

While Nicki has some fans riding for her new single, the responses remain largely poor, and it has a lot to do with the craft and care put into the diss song — or rather, the lack thereof. For an artist who rose through the ranks with electric mixtape freestyles, perfected camp, and never had issues putting her theatrical instincts to good use, Nicki’s “Big Foot” feels like more than a missed opportunity. In a Nicki era that’s been characterized by covert cattiness, this was all but a proper course correction. Instead, it feels like blowing up the whole route, especially when considering other recent instances of thrilling rap beef. 

"This was all but a proper course correction."

When Drizzy dissed Nicki’s then-boyfriend Meek Mill with 2015’s “Back to Back,” he served up incisive quips poking fun at perceived Meek insecurities while packaging it with a club-ready soundscape, an infectious hook and eventually, a cruel meme showcase at his OVO Fest. A few years later, Push gave the 6ix God an even more potent variation of his own medicine with extremely strategic cover art and a life-changing revelation. Drake had jokes and slaps. Push dropped bars and broke news. If he called his stream of Drizzy attacks a “surgical summer,” then Nicki’s Megan diss is a botched operation, one that’s only made Nicki look worse as it’s continued. 

Although “Big Foot” has already collected millions of streams, even breaking a YouTube record a day into its release, and her loyal Barbs remain militaristic, nothing about the song feels like a victory. It’s just another Nicki unpleasantry gilded by past success. As one of the most transformational forces in rap history, Nicki’s icon status has afforded her a higher floor than most, creating a lasting impression of dominance even when she hits stagnation. Despite rarely dropping music in the last 10 years, her monthly Spotify streams have never dipped below the tens of millions, with a sizable catalog of certified bangers keeping her way more than afloat. Her most recent album, Pink Friday 2, has already been certified gold, and this past summer, her Ice Spice and Aqua-assisted single, “Barbie World,” peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, earning them a Grammy nomination. 

Nicki’s a big deal, and she probably always will be, but her baseline success can’t hide spectators’ growing disenchantment with her behavior. In fact, her latest single, and all her antics surrounding it, are just the latest reminder of the intricacies that come with the fandom. To folks online, it was a downward spiral toward the depths of embarrassment. This wasn’t necessarily new behavior, but rather a bonus chapter in an endless stream of negativity associated with the rap legend. 

"Nicki’s a big deal, and she probably always will be, but her baseline success can’t hide spectators’ growing disenchantment with her behavior."

Dating back to the beginning of her career, Nicki’s conflicts with other women have often eclipsed her artistry. In the last decade, she's only dropped two albums, with a five-year gap between each release. In between that time, she’s beefed with Cardi B, Remy Ma, Miley Cyrus, Latto, and others. She’s just as famous for her toxic fanbase as she is for her guest verse on Kanye’s “Monster.” She broke out with keen pop sensibilities, rhyme agility, and cartoonish voices. With each ill-advised tweet—and now, a poorly conceived Megan counterpunch—she inches closer to pure self-caricature, a petty Mean Girl with an addiction to toxicity. A fave who’s become nearly impossible to defend. It could cost her more than good PR, too. 

This buildup of bad juju comes at a time when Nicki could be putting momentum from a solid Pink Friday 2 album to good use. Instead of supplying fans with dynamic new visuals for her project—for which she’s released no videos—she’s giving them mindless Instagram Live sessions and shoddy bars. Just as troubling, she’s more interested in taunting other rappers than focusing on her forthcoming tour. (She canceled her last concert tour, which some people suspect was due to a lack of ticket sales.) If that were to happen again, the difficulty of being a Nicki fan would shift from simply philosophical and emotional to logistical; try being a diehard when you can’t even support your fave at a live show. 

Through all the controversy and spurts of erraticism, being a Nicki fan has become something like a Yeezyian endeavor—an endless walk with nostalgia, disappointment, and cognitive dissonance. It’s been trending that way for a while now, and the “Big Foot” saga is the extreme logical conclusion. But still, there used to be moments when Nicki could be entertaining even when she was being bad. This time around, she wasn’t even a good villain. Lately, she hasn’t been that good of a teammate or an exciting opponent. Aside from Pink Friday 2, she hasn’t even been that fun to watch. If things keep going this way, more of her fans will pick up their ball to go play with someone else.

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