Nicki Minaj: 1st Female Platinum Rapper in 8 Years

Congrats are in order for Nicki Minaj, the reigning female in commercial Hip-Hop, as her debut album “Pink Friday” has officially gone platinum. Minaj is a controversial figure for a variety of reasons: her unapologetic sexuality, allegiance to the Barbie aesthetic, questionable plastic surgery and her “beef” with Lil’ Kim. But no matter what you feel about her music or her style, she is marketable and commanding major attention in the super male-dominated Hip-Hop industry.

What’s crazy is that she is the first female rapper to go platinum in almost a decade. It’s true that there hasn’t been much competition since 2003 but it seems like a really long time to go without having a female rap superstar. Ironically, the last female emcee to go platinum was Lil’ Kim with her La Bella Mafia album in 2003. But don’t expect Kim to be congratulating Nicki anytime soon.

Minaj is also toe-to-toe with sales powerhouse Kanye West, only 30,000 behind him which is negligible since his album was released a week earlier. According to MTV Rap Fix, she is out-pacing Kanye on a week-to-week sales basis: this week Pink Friday moved 60,853 units while West’s My Dark Beautiful Twisted Fantasy sold 58,436. In response to these numbers, Nicki responded: “Girl power! I deserve it this time.”

There’s a little bit of irony here. I love that Nicki is embracing the idea of “girl power” and acknowledges that she deserves success. A lot of women are afraid to toot their own horn and are hesitant to boast about their accomplishments in fear of seeming too conceited or self-centered. There is something dynamic about her overt self-confidence. However, what kind of “girl power” is Nicki Minaj really talking about? She and her predecessor are exchanging harsh words reflecting the idea that there’s only one space for a female rapper in the spotlight and the new need to show respect to the old.

Public “beef” is a hugely powerful promotional tool and can make or break careers. It’s also been a part of Hip-Hop from the beginning. But what does it mean when the few women on the mainstream scene are bickering? In “underground” circles, there seems to be more solidarity (and least outwardly) maybe because of a sensibility around movement building and being recognized for their talents, not just as a female rapper *insert box*. I’ve seen an undercurrent of the strength in numbers mentality but how strong is that, and what type of room is there for that in the music industry?

Karen Civil, a popular Hip-Hop blogger, went in on Twitter the other night recapping her experience earlier that night on a “Women in Hip-Hop” panel. She addresses this idea:

“I don’t believe in the word “femcee” ..if you are a GOOD Mc, lyricist, rapper than gender shouldn’t matter… but if it does to you..than I’ll categorize you like you in the WNBA… don’t come around trying to be in the same league with Lebron/kobe..All these female rappers who want to sit in the club together, take pictures for bossip, act like they “love” each other… of course cause you not winning! This is a competition, first and foremost..I think people fail to realize what they are in this game for..R&B EXAMPLE: Kelly, Ciara, brandy and etc.. hanging with each other.. you won’t DARE catch Beyonce in the same vicinity as these chicks. So you pretend to be friends..during your music struggle.. but best believe when your on you’re A game and winning you’ll cut that shit out.

She’s right. That’s the industry right there. It’s reaffirms the fact the assumption/truth there is only room for one female Hip-Hop voice.

I saw an article recently in which Eve shows some support for Nicki as another woman in the game. She says she is working on building her empire and focusing on herself. That I can support. She may not be in the spotlight but Eve is handling her other business (she always had side hustles like TV, fashion line, etc.) and it’s difficult to achieve financial longevity solely as an artist. I’m not saying I wasn’t entertained and intrigued by the outputs of the Nicki vs. Kim beef. But there is something to be said for the tangible ability to produce, excel and make money when you are focusing on your own betterment and not the accomplishments of others. That’s a step towards solidarity.

Join the Conversation