By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
In my critical dreams, Nicki Minaj is standing onstageany stage, really, but for fun, lets put her on Lettermans Late Show, site of triumphs recent and otherwiseblinking 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, theres 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 didnt happen that way on Pink Friday, sure. But Im not giving up hope yet.
Rich: I think youre right on about the straight-woman thing. Ive always examined Nicki Minaj in the context of female rap and winced at her solitude. Thats so much more apparent here, where shes mostly alone. Shed be a lot easier for me to accept and maybe even frivolously enjoy if she werent the only relevant female rapper in the game. Shes a jester and we need a queen.
...And not the one of multiple media that shes trying to be! I dont have a best-Nicki scenario, but one thing she should learn from the Pink Friday debacle (which shell probably only see as such if it flops) is that long-form isnt 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 thats so standard for someone who clearly prides herself on weirdness, whatever your opinions of how deep that weirdness goes. Its OK to have your gift be that of guest verse. Its OK to just do short-form. Its OK to be the O. Henry of rap, especially since weve never had one of those before.