When Nicki Minaj went into a rant during her BET Awards acceptance speech for “Best Female Rap Artist,” about how most women in rap don’t write their own lyrics, the media preemptively funneled that statement towards Iggy Azalea. Minaj quickly rebuked that notion as nonsense saying that it was aimed at the general hip-hop landscape. She seemed genuine, but in that backhanded Nicki Minaj sort of way.
Her statements were mostly centered around the hard work she had put in as a writer, shutting down any lingering rumors that she was nothing more than a Lil Wayne puppet. She went out on a limb with her speech making it seem like she was trying to be an ambassador for female lyricists. She even went on to cite legends like Lauryn Hill and Missy Elliott as inspirations.
Minaj specifically mentioned the The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill as an album that showed her just how limitless this thing called rap could be. And she’s right, it’s a masterpiece - a project that captured everything a hip-hop album should be. It was her Illmatic. On it she’s a veritable triple threat – she raps, sings and produces. The title cut is a crown jewel, the type of self-realization that is the difference between an original and a clone: [LISTEN]
I look at my environment
And wonder where the fire went
What happened to everything we used to be
I hear so many cry for help
Searching outside of themselves
Now I know that His strength is within me
Missy Elliot was just as good, but in a completely off-the-cuff way. She had this bounce and rhythm to her voice that seemed to melt into your mind like fresh butter. Her debut Supa Dupa Fly was like nothing ever heard before. She could rhyme like a dude, sing like a princess and dance like a b-boy. She could go from lyrical lampooning you in “They Don’t Wanna Fuck Wit Me” to wooing you with hushed whispers in “Friendly Skies:” [LISTEN]
I’m stewardess of the plane
Can you feel the turbulence and maintain
Please refrain stay in your seats
Until we reach the game
Each of those lyricists are legends whose legacy is untouchable, and for Nicki Minaj to namedrop them in the midst of this pseudo controversy is just like her: unexpectedly shallow and tactless. She’s making a grand statement, and for as right as she is about rap, it just sounds ridiculous coming out of her mouth – the same mouth that made “Lookin’ Ass Nigga:” [LISTEN]
Look at y’all smokin’ ass niggas
After every pull, niggas start chokin’ ass niggas
Look at y’all bitch ass niggas
Sure she writes her own raps but when said raps are co-opted and turned into flavorless eye-candy it’s just as bad if not worse than the work of her unintended/intended target Iggy Azealea.