Friday, September 4, 2009

Because Rosie Perez Was Never All That Cute Above The Neck

How can you not love Nicki Minaj? There's that line in Pulp Fiction about "personality going a long way", and that's always been especially true about rappers. To be real, Kim was never that nice and her best material (Hard Core) just sounds like the majority of it was ghostwritten or directed by Biggie, and all the Michael Jackson drama that came later was just a bad look. Foxy was the same way, except her albums and rhymes rarely measured up to Kim, which left a host of true school femcees like Bahamadia, Jean Grae, and Rah Digga to pick up the slack. But Jean Grae's career never took off (despite being extremely likable and clever), Bahamadia always sounded like Frieza from Dragonball Z, and Rah Digga is best known as the babysitter from "13 Ghosts". Trina was never taken seriously because shed always been too good-looking, and Mia X, Gangsta Boo and a slew of others had to deal with the double curse of being female and Southern, two things that until 2004, were hard obstacles to hurdle. So that just left Queen Latifah and Lauryn Hill, the former pulled a Will Smith and moved on from rap and the latter went fucking batshit. (Remy Ma's in jail and never got past the mixtape stage in her career so her faults go without saying) A lot been written about the dearth of female emcees and the reasons, but Nicki Minaj might be able to overcome that, despite suffering from nearly every flaw listed above.

Jean Grae and Bahamadia could rap, but their voices weren't all that great and weren't sexy enough to arouse interest or push units. Nicki also suffers from this, but after listening to her enough, that grating Rosie Perez, Queens-as-fuck accent becomes somewhat of an asset in being able to tell her apart from legions of other female MC's with "grating New York accents" (to quote Byron Crawford). Another potential chink is her close association to Lil' Wayne, which depending on how Drake does and how well Wayne can actually put out talent (no Tyga) could be good or bad. But judging by the fact that her first mixtape appearance had spot-on Harry Potter references and that she spazzes out on the "Donk" beat for this song is promising. I don't see an issue with a female Lil' Wayne with a better good-to-bad punchline ratio(as of post-Da Drought 3) and ridiculously heaving breasts.

Not that that's all she is but, really, those titties are reckless.

Luckily she seems to have been blessed with a good amount of self-awareness for a rapper in general, not just a femcee, which is good to see. Several interviews from this year have shown that she's trying to distance herself from being interpreted as a Lil' Kim clone (minus the pre-mortem Michael Jackson self-esteem kit) or merely a dime-a-dozen NY rapper with a marketable body. For most women, especially in hip-hop, there's an internal debate about just simply riding the wave of interest produced by your looks and displaying your talents without foregoing that very same aspect of your womanhood, and there is a fine balance there (to rhyme about riding dick or to not rhyme about riding dick), which Nicki Minaj not only seems extremely aware of, but she's trying to shift the conversation about her to something other than the fact that people want to see her naked (and would probably rather see her naked than hear her ape Lil' Wayne's cadences and inflections)

And with a voice like that, she should be trying to display depth. One hacked Sidekick might be all it would take to derail further interest in Nicki Minaj, Cassie-style, so establishing a more complex identity and becoming a better rapper is definitely a must. Although probably not as every instance showing that she's moving away from tat lane has two where she's using it for promotion. Her wackiness is her main asset right now, and it might be shallow to cosign a rapper for that reason alone, the field is kind of barren for female rappers (and Crime Mob sort of fell apart) and I can do without Lil'Mama/Bow Wow.


Jordan said...

It was difficult for me to read this post because the title was so wrong. Seriously dude, watch White Men Can't Jump again or something.

The thing about female rappers is I really like the idea of them in principle, then in practice shit's often kind of boring. Or like good in small doses, but more than that is tiresome. Really my favorite female rap moments are when they're a counterpoint to dudes; Foxy on "Aint No," "Bitties in The BK Lounge," Shawnna on Ludacris songs or Trina on Trick Daddy songs. Nikki Minaj exists in this "good in principle" zone in my brain.

Christopher said...

Her nipples get all the credit. As it should be.