An Open Letter To Nicki Minaj


Hey, girl.

Let me start by saying how very fond of you I am. I was obsessed, obsessed with you when I first heard your music. The strange voices, the weirdly drawn-out vowels, the zesty non sequiturs peppered throughout your verses — it’s addictive. And even though Lil’ Kim is an enormous personal hero of mine, I never would have dreamed of taking sides. You were the fresh new girl that everyone wanted to know about, and I couldn’t get enough. You dropped in on songs like some kind of patron saint of acrobatic lyricism, putting out verses that put everyone else in the song into the deepest kind of shame. Kanye and Jay Z looked like barely-literate hill people next to you on “Monster.” That verse still gets me pumped to do… everything. I wash the dishes with vigor. I buy stamps like an HBIC. I walk to the public restrooms with unquantifiable swag. With that verse, anything is possible.

That being said, I feel that we need to talk about the progression of your career of late. Clearly you are in no shortage of cotton candy-colored hair and clothing, all of which looks beyond awesome. (And you need to slap Katy Perry across her musically mediocre face for stealing your fluorescent-pastel Candyland Goes To The Club style — only you can truly own it.) However, barraging society with endless videos of you wiggling in progressively more color-saturated bodysuits, and popping up on every song like a broken jack-in-the-box is only making it hard for us to keep that raging girl (or regular) music boner for you. You’re just everywhere right now, and even the greatest things lose their luster if repeated ad nauseam.

And similarly, does every song really qualify as single material? “Stupid Hoe”? I mean, I couldn’t competently play a kazoo if instructed by the Royal Academy of Music, so I don’t pretend to know what is and isn’t melodically acceptable. But what is that song, Nicki? It’s just… you’re better than that song. At least “Beez In the Trap” has a sparse, ambient sound that kind of draws you in — “Stupid Hoe” just feels like being repeatedly whacked in the head with a glittery pink whiffle ball bat. Did you really feel like that was the best you could do when you released it?

Part of what made you so captivating and intriguing was that your bag of lyrical tricks — the nonsensical wordplay, the various characters, the talking like this AND THEN TALKING LIKE THIS — was how it was only used every so often. When you sprinkled it over one of your guest verses, it immediately added a playful, unexpected element to a song full of taking-yourself-too-seriously Patriarchal Swag. You were the antidote to all of the often self-important and humorless rappers that surrounded you. You got it. But when one hears songs like “Stupid Hoe,” one just kind of leaves feeling exhausted — and also unsure of why you have such unbridled gusto in insulting other women. We get it, you are better than the other people in the club, and say words weird sometimes.

The point is, we want to love you. I know I do, at least. I want to see the old Nicki, the one who put everyone else in the same song to shame, who was inspired long, profanity-laden arguments in comment forums about whether you have taken the throne from Lil Kim. That Nicki doesn’t need gimmicks, and she also doesn’t need to be featured in 98 percent of all music released this year. Be careful, Azealia is coming up, and she can actually go through an overfull verse of wordplay without screaming in a funny accent.


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image – Gaby Chenet