Monday, November 1, 2010

Nicki Minaj: 1 Step Forward or 2 Steps Back?

OK we've been putting it off for a while but this latest annihilation poem by Jasmine Mans (video below after the jump) has officially forced our hand.  It is now time to talk about Nicki Minaj.  For our Hip Hop-challenged crowd, if you've listened to just about any top-40 radio station over the last year then chances are you've probably heard Nicki Minaj whether you realized it or not.  She first debuted on Young Money's "Bedrock" along with Lil' Wayne and his other protege, Drake, and, through those connections, she has effectively made a callabo appearance on every single hip-hop song to hit the airwaves ever since - despite the fact that she has not yet dropped an album of her own.   In a nutshell, she's the latest hip-hop sensation, appearing on song's by everybody from Usher to Eminem to Mariah Carey to Robin Thick to Kanye West.  Her most recognized hit is her slow jam single "Your Love" which interestingly enough departs from her trademark fast-paced spastic flow that she's come to be known for.  Speaking of what she's known for, she has also become known for her Barbie-doll persona, colorful (and of course fake) hair, nails, make-up, clothes, etc. (as evidenced by the pics to the right and below) and for her sex-appeal image.  This has caused some static with the keep-it-natural/Black-is-beautiful crowd but we'll touch on that in a moment.  To finish out the Minaj resume, MTV has recognized her as their #6 Hottest MC in the Game over her creator, Lil' Wayne, who was ranked at #7 (no comment). Not to mention, she's being compared to, elevated above, and criticized by some of the historic female emcee hall of famers like Lauryn Hill, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Lil' Kim, Foxxy Brown and Rah Digga, to which Minaj responds in one of her latest tracks:

"Is this the thanks that I get for putting you bitches on? Is it my fault that all you bitches gone?/ You should have sent a thank you note, you little ho/ Now I'm gonna wrap your coffin with a bow."
Houston, do we have a problem?

Well...rather than let us tell it, why don't we direct your attention to the latest response from a poet by the name of Jasmine Mans who let loose at the University of Wisconsin’s 2010 Stomp Da Madness poetry event with her poem entitled "Miss-Education of a Barbie" dedicated to Nicki Minaj and all Black women in general in the entertainment industry:


As Ms. Mans tells it:
I do not want Nicki Minaj to be the next Lauryn Hill or MC Lyte, I want her to rap as if women like Assata Shakur and Toni Morrison exist...
Her "Barbie" image is an objectification of womanhood. How can we expect our male rappers to pay homage and respect to women when the voice that is representing us is tainted with sexual innuendos and “child’s play?”
Most rappers say in response to this "look, I didn’t ask to be anyone’s role model, I am just doing me like always." for Nicki, this isn’t true, she did ask to be famous. She engineered herself to be more marketable so that this could happen. Now that it happened, what will she do with that power? Will she be self-serving at the expense of her fans? Or will she be both entertaining, sexy and socially progressive for women? We don't want the Nicki we know to go away, we want the Nicki we know to be 3 Dimensional.
W.E.B. DuBois said all art is propaganda and should be used to uplift and challenge the African American community, and if art does not do such it is useless. Nicki Minaj is too powerful to be useless.
My piece is not a “diss,” it is a dare.

I dare Nicki Minaj to be a PHENOMENAL WOMAN and not a phenomenal "Barbie."

Give us your take:
Does Nicki Minaj have a duty to represent for Black women, or can she just  "do her?"
What does the image of Nicki Minaj say to our young men about Black women?
What does the image of Nicki Minaj say to our young ladies about Black women?
Does Nicki Minaj take Hip Hop one step forward or two steps back?

and last but not least... 

Does Nicki Minaj take Black women one step forward or two steps back?

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