I would not be at all surprised if Nicki Minaj ultimately joined Beyoncé in her self-imposed exile from interviews with the press. On one end, you want to celebrate the fact that the New York Times magazine opted to recognize Minaj for the pop cultural behemoth she has become. And the you read the actual article and realize how ironic that this profile is for the publication’s cultural issue and the woman interviewing Minaj is clueless.
Immediately, I noticed that when naming female stars of pop music, Vanessa Grigoriadis touts “Beyoncé, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga and, as always, Madonna,” but conveniently leaves out Janet Jackson. Jackson has influenced numerous of the aforementioned names, and if we’re truly keeping it funky, actually has a song being played on the radio, unlike Madonna. Then there is Grigoriadis’ musings on female artists reclaiming the word bitch, but leaves out Lil’ Kim, who not only did that and then some, but also helped pave the way for the very pop-rap crossover stardom that Minaj presently enjoys.
But of course, she tried to tie Nicki Minaj to Lady Gaga, which Minaj not surprisingly dismissed as being “so old.”
The lack of insight is almost comical until you realize how this is yet another piece on a Black star penned by a often condescending antagonistic writer who didn’t deserve the assignment. Therein lies the frustration Minaj ultimately shared with Grigoriadis after she posed a rather sexist question about the rift between her labelmate Drake, and her boyfriend, Meek Mill, as well as the lawsuit filed by Lil’ Wayne against Baby.
Grigoriadis asked, ‘‘Is there a part of you that thrives on drama, or is it no, just pain and unpleasantness.”
And that’s when Minaj went off. Rightly so. “That’s disrespectful,” Minaj said. “Why would a grown-ass woman thrive off drama?”
Then, she really let her have it: “That’s the typical thing that women do. What did you putting me down right there do for you? ’Women blame women for things that have nothing to do with them. I really want to know why.’ As a matter of fact, I don’t. Can we move on, do you have anything else to ask? To put down a woman for something that men do, as if they’re children and I’m responsible, has nothing to do with you asking stupid questions, because you know that’s not just a stupid question. That’s a premeditated thing you just did.’’
Minaj went on to dismiss her as “rude” and a “troublemaker” before declaring, “Do not speak to me like I’m stupid or beneath you in any way.” Ultimately, the boot came: “I don’t care to speak to you anymore.’’
Still, not getting it, Grigoriadis closed this piece by opining, “I didn’t know how much of it Minaj really felt, and how much it was a convenient way of maintaining control.”
If nothing else, at least we got to hear Minaj eloquently explain what problem so many Black people have with Miley Cyrus and others like her when she noted:
“The fact that you feel upset about me speaking on something that affects black women makes me feel like you have some big balls. You’re in videos with black men, and you’re bringing out black women on your stages, but you don’t want to know how black women feel about something that’s so important? Come on, you can’t want the good without the bad. If you want to enjoy our culture and our lifestyle, bond with us, dance with us, have fun with us, twerk with us, rap with us, then you should also want to know what affects us, what is bothering us, what we feel is unfair to us. You shouldn’t not want to know that.”
Problem is, though, this writer is guilty of similar sins. A female rapper who has revived a single subgenre of music on her own deserves more. This should have been a better moment for Nicki Minaj.
She should have been allowed to speak to someone who actually knew what they were talking about. Someone who didn’t go into the interview with some preconceived notion about who Nicki Minaj is. A person wasn’t trying to pose some sort of “gotcha” question for attention that has only backfired in the most humiliating way possible.
Some have already questioned Nicki Minaj’s dismissal of Grigoriadis and calling back attention to Cyrus’ assessment that Minaj is “not a very nice person.” I loathe this juvenile retort. Kindness is wonderful, but what you receive from another is often a direct result of what you throw out there first. Nicki Minaj does not get the respect she deserves inside and outside of hip hop. Why would you expect her to walk around with a big smile on her face amongst those speaking down to her?
This is very much on par with her infamous “pickle juice” remarks. No matter what select critics make of Nicki Minaj and her complains over how she’s treated, one thing has remained constant: someone always manages to prove her right. Her temperament shouldn’t change until her treatment does.