Tell me you caught Nicki Minaj's performance at the Grammys. Tell me that I am not alone in labeling it a hot mess.
I love Nicki Minaj. As a feminist of color, I acknowledge all the problems that hip hop has with representing women, especially women of color (don't get me started on the "Stupid Hoe" music video). To be fair, these problems exist in all artistic industries, from film (the recent Pariah vs. Redtails debate comes to mind) to poetry, but hip hop looms especially huge in the public eye; so when Nicki Minaj was comin' up from the underground a few years back, I was elated. Lil' Kim was nowhere to be found after her stint in jail, and Remy Ma is currently still doing time. There are great female rappers out there (please give Jean Grae a listen; she is probably the greatest rapper alive) but the Female MC with the wide marketable appeal--the Drake equivalent-- was missing.
Then Beam Me Up Scotty came out. We got our first taste of Nicki on that mixtape-- an island girl (Trinidadian, to be exact) from Queens, dressed as Wonder Woman, rappin':
I just came out of the motherfuckin' old school
Got my Mac notebook with the Pro tools
Ya bitches ain't ready for Nicki Lewinsky
Bad, woof, woof, flyer then a Frisbee
I was down. I was down for the Harajuku references, the Monica Lewinsky lines, the wigs, the bright colors, and even the weird reclaiming of Barbie.
But last night, I didn't recognize the Nicki Minaj that I loved. Her performance was theatrical, yes, and possibly interesting, but I couldn't make heads nor tails of how it was relevant to hip hop. Granted, she's trying to do something new and change the game, and I do get the whole having-multiple-rap-personalities thing, but last night was confusing. The worst thing that could happen to an MC happened to Nicki-- she became a caricature of herself. It was maybe too meta. It had me rollin' on the couch laughing for a good hour, completely confused.