Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday, Debated

Growing pain or total disaster? One fan and one non-fan hash it out.

In my critical dreams, Nicki Minaj is standing onstage—any stage, really, but for fun, let’s put her on Letterman’s Late Show, site of triumphs recent and otherwise—blinking big, channeling the Queens girl she is by birth, the Valley Girl she is by ironic comment, the rap monster she is by ambition, the theater student she is by inclination, all these contradictory and self-contained identities trading one-liners and barbs, ambiguous sexual overtures and vehemently hilarious rejections of the same. And, all the while, there’s David Letterman standing off to the side, cackling in amazement, watching as would-be collaborator after would-be collaborator steps up to challenge her, only to sit back down, utterly humbled. It didn’t happen that way on Pink Friday, sure. But I’m not giving up hope yet.

Rich: I think you’re right on about the straight-woman thing. I’ve always examined Nicki Minaj in the context of female rap and winced at her solitude. That’s so much more apparent here, where she’s mostly alone. She’d be a lot easier for me to accept and maybe even frivolously enjoy if she weren’t the only relevant female rapper in the game. She’s a jester and we need a queen.

...And not the one of multiple media that she’s trying to be! I don’t have a best-Nicki scenario, but one thing she should learn from the Pink Friday debacle (which she’ll probably only see as such if it flops) is that long-form isn’t her thing (at least for now). Obviously, the general career model is to build buzz, start showing up in pop culture, and then move in to make your solo killing. But that’s so standard for someone who clearly prides herself on weirdness, whatever your opinions of how deep that weirdness goes. It’s OK to have your gift be that of guest verse. It’s OK to just do short-form. It’s OK to be the O. Henry of rap, especially since we’ve never had one of those before.

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