Nikki Minaj has been occupying headlines all week since she pulled out of the Hot 97 Summer Jam festival after a DJ went on stage and called her single “Starships” “bullshit” and “not real hip-hop” just hours before Minaj was set to hit the stage.
Then, the next day Nicki went on Hot 97 with Funkmaster Flex to address the situation, participating in a heated conversation with the loud-mouthed DJ about respect, ego, and hip hop. The whole conversation was pretty good, and you can read the transcript here. Vulture chose their five favorite moments from that on-air beef, and some of them are pretty great. They are all from Nicki, and all very strong. But they didn’t select my favorite part of the conversation, when Nicki prevents Funkmaster Flex from interrupting her yet again to make a point:
“I got it, I got your feelings. Are you gonna let me talk? You’ve already made your opinion clear, and nobody’s opinions seem to be changing. I just want to apologize to my fans for what happened last night, and like I said on Twitter, I’m going to make it up to them with a free concert. And they said you know what Hot 97? When you want our team to come to your show, treat us with respect. And that’s all we’re asking. We’re not asking for any special treatment. Just respect. And I’m very proud of my team, and the way they stood behind me—and I’m very happy to show my female fans in that audience, and even my gay fans in that audience, when I’m coming to your home, respect me. It’s no longer comedy. Wayne doesn’t take me as a joke.” [Emphasis mine.]
I think this quote embodies what is at the center not only of this beef, but of much of the conversation around female rappers right now. Everyone loves to have an opinion on Nicki, myself included, but at the end of the day she is a talented woman kicking ass in a male-dominated and misogyny-laced industry, with strong backing and support from an elite, successful, all-male crew. This doesn’t have to make her a feminist, or a good artist – we could argue all those points for days. But it does make her a pioneer and a rarity. And as I believe the above quote illustrates nicely, being in that position forces Nicki to demand respect in a way that her male colleagues might not always be forced to do. I think it’s been fascinating to watch this whole saga unfold because it marks one of the first times in recent memory that I’ve seen a prominent and culturally relevant all-male crew take a stand like this. That it should take place within the context of hip hop, a genre I love so much, is icing on the cake.
This week’s Wednesday Weigh-In, inspired by Nicki’s ordeal, relates to crews and respect. When was the last time a guy or a group of guys stood up for you and demanded respect on your behalf? Did you feel empowered, condescended to, or something else entirely?