My professor from my hip hop course at UT said Nicki Minaj was one of the most relevant female rappers of this decade… coining her piece of “Monster” with Kanye West as nothing less than “brilliant” . Although we are only two years into it, he may be on to something. Love her or hate her, everyone has an opinion about her- which counts for ALOT. I, in my humblest opinion, believe she has bars for days, the proof lies within her earlier works, like this and this. Outside of rapping, she does serve as a fashion and artistic force inspiring scene changers from fashion designers to music producers. And alas, she has many young women calling themselves barbies in the vein of the Harajuku Barbie culture that has stemmed from Japan. However, she also has been known to encourage young women to embark on stringent white supremacist values (“these nappy headed hoes need a perminator”) which has stirred severe controversy from many Black feminists, such as Kola Boof*.
For this post, I am more interested in what she exposed by being Trinidad as opposed to what she said. Carnaval culture across the African Diaspora explores the range of cultures that have resisted oppressive forces from their nations in the form of cultural performance. What is really attractive to women outside of the Carnaval culture is the elaborate costumes that the women wear- regardless of their body type. This notion or attractions reflects upon conventional standards of beauty still ingrained within western frameworks. The costumes that these women choose to wear are active pieces of resistance against standards of beauty that are propelled and commercialized for global consumption from the west. So basically at first glance people want to trip when they see thick women in these costumes, but they quickly adjust and see how beautiful these women are! The same follows for the initial shock women north of the equator feel when they see women of all sizes in places such as Brazil wearing bikinis!
Her approach to incorporating her culture into her music is imperative to counter particular norms within mainstream culture. The diversity of women she has in her video shows the diversity of Trinidadian women that are beautiful- regardless of size or shade. Another instance of this documentary that caught my eye was this where she basically claims that its refreshing to her women complement one another. “Nicki, you so sexy” in her eyes was said with sincerity by her fellow Trinis as opposed to women in the states who her bodyguards will say that to ‘mess with your mind’. She reminded me that if we want to fight these restrictive and destructive standards of beauty, it has to start with us.
The video posted above is a strong example of the power of the western global standard of beauty being commercialized. So, I think if we don’t want occurrences like that above to continuing in the global south, we have got to start complementing each other and encouraging ourselves to be ourselves. We also need to stop buying bleaching cream even if its from a dope rapper (looking at you Vybz, we miss you but if you get out can you stop selling your poison kthnx).
*Kola Boof is kinda ratch, but she made some good points!