Stop Being So Quick to Say Missy Elliott “Shaded” Nicki Minaj in Her Billboard Interview

Take off those sunglasses and read it a second time.

Missy Elliott’s Billboard cover story came out this morning and people are already twisting her words.

Missy, who will be honored with the Innovator award at Billboard’s Women in Music event, spoke to the publication about her new single “WTF,” her illness and possibly touring with Beyonce. But it’s what she said about Nicki Minaj that have some people claiming Missy was being shady. From her Billboard cover story:

“When asked about Nicki Minaj, who is clearly influenced by Elliott, [Missy] mock-innocently replies, ’Oh, she is?’ (Speaking to her influence generally, she adds, ’Unfortunately, breaking news, there is only one Missy.’) Still, she would love to see more woman MCs on the charts — when she was coming up, that was much more common. ’It was me, [Lil’] Kim, Lauryn [Hill], Eve, Foxy [Brown], Trina,’ she says. ’There’s room for so many. It’s important.’

Missy “mock-innocently” suggests that she’s aware of her influence on Nicki, but she later clarifies that there can only be one Missy. So far so good. She then goes on to say, as she’s said before, that she thinks there’s “room for so many” female MCs. She’s rooting for women in hip-hop, not trying to pit them against each other.

This brings me to Idolator, who was quick to call “expert shade” this morning in their article:

“And perhaps the best indicator that [Missy’s] serious about a return this time could be that she has come out swinging, like she’s ready to reclaim her territory. On ’WTF’ Elliott took some subliminals at Miley Cyrus, and now in her Billboard cover story, Elliott throws some expert shade Nicki Minaj’s way.”

They included the excerpt from Missy’s interview, commenting the following on it: “Not quite as brutal as ’I don’t know her,’ but certainly a shot across the bow.”

Hold up. Is Missy’s quote “certainly a shot across the bow”? ’Cause it really doesn’t feel that way.

Actually, it feels more like Idolator is thirsty for numbers, so they’re pitting Missy and Nicki against each other. Ryan Seacrest made a similar mistake earlier this year when he pitted Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj against each other following that silly VMA Twitter mishap. He changed the headline to his article after Nicki called him out on it.

The media is quick to call shade when it comes to women because they think that you will savor it like Pizza Rat and Papa John’s. After Missy released the video for “WTF” last week, outlets were quick to say that she was subliminally shading Miley Cyrus. Reasons for this are scarce and Missy has yet to say whether or not it’s true. But what’s more interesting is the fact that people are fascinated by women fighting with each other, even if they really aren’t.

Writing articles with the she vs. she angle will undoubtedly get you more clicks, but it does more harm than good. It plays up the stereotypical portrayal of women as catty and dramatic, damaging the reputations of those involved. Also, girl fights are hardly ever news and usually fabricated. In the case of Missy vs. Nicki, I’m calling bullshit.

Missy didn’t “shade” anyone in her interview. She didn’t “come out swinging” like Idolator suggested she had. She actually said something very positive about women in hip-hop, which doesn’t happen all that often: “There’s room for many [women],” she said. “It’s important.”

It is important. So take off your sunglasses and fixate on that. That’s a story worth telling.

1/2 Cartoon, 1/2 Beyhive.