The award marks a zenith in the rollercoaster ride of her career of late, a rampage ascending peaks of recognition and descending into valleys of skirmishes. It follows fresh on the heels of last year’s MTV’s Video Music Awards, in which MTV slighted Minaj by failing to nominate her “Anaconda” video. That preceded a public pissing match in which she tweeted, “If I was a different ‘kind’ of artist, ‘Anaconda’ would be nominated,” and “If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated.”
Both Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus engaged in public debate culminating at the VMA award show, where Minaj pointed freshly manicured fingernails at Cyrus, calling her out on co-opting black culture without recognition or due. Minaj’s microphone was cut.
Minaj is outspoken and assertive. She lives out loud, is arrogant, vulgar, outspoken and spontaneous.
The Grammys delivered Minaj nominations for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Performance for “Truffle Butter,” along with Drake and Lil Wayne and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “Only” featuring Drake, Lil Wayne and Chris Brown.
It might seem the Grammy committee went out on a limb because Minaj lives out loud. She’s arrogant, vulgar, outspoken and spontaneous, wielding her sexuality in a cartoonish display of bright wigs, glowing neon outfits and décolletage.
She’s something of a female cultural pundit with an entourage of misogynists as cohorts. Perhaps she’s a bit complicit in this, as the lyrics of “Truffle Butter” reflect. Or perhaps she’s an equal-opportunity offender, upending the male gaze while rising to the vulgar occasion along with her cohorts. Men, women, black, white, purple — color and gender are no longer drawn in clear divisions of who’s preying upon whom.
The “Anaconda” video features Minaj gyrating her booty in a pink G-string surrounded by other women with ample junk-in-the-trunk derrières. One scene sees Minaj dressed in a revealing maid’s outfit and spraying whipped cream on her cleavage before suggestively licking and eating a banana. Then, she cuts the fruit aggressively and tosses it aside with a sneer — a clear metaphor for a weenie. The song is sampled from Sir Mix A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” with the lyrics “My anaconda don’t want none/Unless you got buns, hon” at center stage.
Nicki Minaj has clearly been snubbed by the Grammys, but she owns her real estate — at least on Billboard charts and in record sales
Minaj is outspoken and assertive. She declared at the BET Awards, “When you hear Nicki Minaj spit, Nicki Minaj wrote it,” a statement inciting mass applause.
According to the siteCrunk Feminist Collective, artists like Lil’ Kim and Nicki Minaj “challenge the narrative scripts of black womanhood.” Minaj flips expectations in a world where “the mainstream — the overground — is the primary battleground upon which images of black women are commodified, reified, and re-entrenched.”
But Nicki Minaj clearly owns her real estate — at least on Billboard charts and in record sales. The reserved institutions of the music industry have been wakened by Minaj and her penchant for living out loud. It’s a move, however slight, that some traditions and institutions are finally keeping pace with shifting culture.