#Repost Noisey Music: What Is Nicki Minaj Doing?

I had the opportunity to participate in a round-table discussion with four other reputed music journalists, with Noisey Music publishing the end result. For the full conversation and my own individual contributions, please see below or live on the Noisey website here. grateful to be in such impactful, intelligent and talented company, and on one of my favorite publications, no less. 

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Heavy is the head that wears the crown, and this year’s Queen of Rap debacle is causing migraines. When Nicki Minaj announced the forthcoming release of Queen in May, she’d been dominating rap for a decade. For many young women rappers, she was the prototype: the genre’s first female act to successfully crossover. This was the first time in her reign that she’d be expected to defend her title, as she wasn’t the only woman in hip-hop setting records anymore.

During the rollout for Queen, however, Minaj’s actions would lead people to wonder if she was paranoid her monopoly was disintegrating. In June, after Toronto-based culture writer Wanna Thompson tweeted she was looking for “mature content” from Minaj, the rapper fired back. “Just say you jealous I’m rich,” Minaj wrote her in a direct message, which also included jabs at Thompson’s appearance (following the exchange, Thompson said she received death threats from Minaj stans and was let go from an internship with Karencivil.com, whose eponymous founder counts the rapper as a client). A month later, Nicki released a collaboration with polarizing Brooklyn rapper 6ix9ine, who plead guilty to a charge of “using a child in a sexual performance"in 2015, then announced him as an opening act for her upcoming tour. Would her response to constructive criticism and alignment with an artist like 6ix9ine put a stain on her feminist stance, one that was already growing muddy after her questionable comments about sex workers in June?

By all appearances, this album cycle has been a rocky one for Nicki. Queen debuted at number two and sold 185,000 units in its first week, compared to 2014’s The Pinkprint, which launched at number one and sold 198,000 units. Last week, Live Nation announced Minaj would be delaying the US leg of her upcoming tour until May 2019, this time without Future as a co-headliner. “You are now in the running for #CockSuckaOfTheDay award on #QueenRadio this Thursday,” she wrote in an Instagram post after a report from Billboard described the postponement as “a cancellation.” “Barbz get me the name of this writer then hit them and tell them this is one black woman they will not bully into a corner by FRAUDULENT SHAMING TACTICS.”

Between career-spanning 90-minute promotional interviews, she’s also engaged in Kanye-level Twitter spats. One involved $12,000 hair plugs for her ex-Safaree Samuels; in another, she blamed SpotifyTravis Scott, Kylie Jenner, and their six-month-old child together, Stormi, for the album’s position on the charts. Responding to the backlash she’s been receiving for such comments, she defended her willingness to air out the industry’s dirty laundry by invoking the legacy of Harriet Tubman. “All the Queens I remember shook shit up! Queen of the week may go to Harriet Tubman! Had she just sat there and ate her rice, you niggaz history would’ve been a lot less triumphant,” she tweeted.

If Nicki’s actions over the past few months have angered and disappointed some fans, it’s partly because lashing out at other women—including the female critics who have written about her—goes against her resolutely pro-woman brand. Still, it’s hard to hold Nicki accountable for her actions without wondering whether our desire to do so stems partly from the unfair expectations we put on black women to begin with. When bravado bubbles up in a woman, why do we view it as a sign of weakness and pettiness? Should we be angry at Nicki for actively silencing other women—or should we be directing that anger at an industry that reinforces the belief that only one woman can prosper in rap in a time, while disproportionately rewarding problematic male rappers? I’ve assembled a panel of women music critics—including Kaila PhiloKC OrcuttKai Miller, and Thompson herself—to reckon with the controversy surrounding Queen and its release, as well as the larger questions it raises about the complexities of navigating success as a black woman.

Let’s start off by giving credit where it’s due. When did you start being a Nicki fan, and what aspects of her music really resonated with you?

WANNA THOMPSON: I stumbled onto an early Onika Maraj viciously rapping over an infamous Notorious B.I.G instrumental for her video, “Warning.” Her tactical wordplay and sharp delivery caught my attention, and I spent the remainder of my night searching for her earlier mixtapes. Everything about the NYC rapper reminded me of her predecessor, Lil' Kim. I anxiously followed Minaj’s career and marvelled at the success she rightfully deserved. I admired her status in the industry and ability to crush any rapper in her path.

KC ORCUTT: My introduction to Nicki Minaj was her career-defining freestyle on “Monster.” It felt like everyone collectively ran it one back after that first listen, instantly wanting to know more about her. I was admittedly late to “mixtape Nicki,” but became a fast fan after Beam Me Up Scotty. Nicki has that magnetic persona, and to this day, her talent, confidence, and fearlessness is what draws me into her music. She is one of the best to ever do it, regardless of gender.

KRISTIN CORRY: I loved seeing the “first ladies” of rap cliques, and I searched for myself in my favorites. I absolutely adored Kim, Foxy, and Eve, but it was like I was grasping at straws for familiarity. Nicki is a Trinidadian from Queens, as am I, so her demeanor felt like home. I remember falling down the rabbit hole ofPlaytime is Over, Sucka Free, and Beam Me Up Scotty and thinking that “Itty Bitty Piggy” was everything I needed as a 17-year-old. There was a time when a new Nicki verse meant you had homework to do. I literally remember sitting in my dorm memorizing “Monster,” and when her verses came on in the club, those were moments for women to command the floor.

When Nicki announced that she had a new album on the way, what were you expecting? What did Queen need to accomplish in order to live up to its name?

ORCUTT: This is the part that particularly gets the non-stan-identifying fans in trouble: expectations. Even her biggest critics can find a way to respect how she has consistently delivered, [earning the highest number awards of any female rapper ever], releasing three chart-topping albumsreceiving the key to Queens, and breaking countless records, such as surpassing Aretha Franklin when it comes to appearances on the Billboard Hot 100. Nicki’s reign over the past ten years makes us hold her to a different, higher standard. Because of this, many fans, myself included, feel as though we’re ready to experience a growth or evolution—something that shows she’s leveled up from the been-dope rapper we met a decade ago who came into the game guns blazing.

I want to see collaborations with women, top-tier lyricism, and songs that hold my increasingly diminishing attention span. There is a lot of important and interesting content for Nicki to dive into, including being single for the first time since entering the public eye and going through her brother’s trial and Meek’s convictions. It’s the growth and introspection so many of her fans crave. You can’t evolve from plastic, and perhaps it’s time for Nicki’s artist evolution to strip away some of the pop icon she’s spent years perfecting.

THOMPSON: I was expecting a classic album. How do I define a classic album? The qualifications are simple: no skips and heavy cultural significance. After taking a four-year hiatus, the rapper needed to deliver a solid body of work that deviated from the radio singles if she wanted to reclaim her throne as Queen. While I appreciated the undeniable Roxanne Shante influence on “Barbie Tingz”and the fire production on “Chun Li,” I wished the rapper would stop talking about why she thinks she’s the best, and just provide us with quality bars that have nothing to do with her competition.

KAI MILLER: Her initial rollout of releases, “Chun Li” and “Barbie Tingz,” were what I believed to be inklings of her tapping back into her former days as a mixtape wunderkind. It felt like a resurgence, a new sense of direction for her artistry. I hoped Nicki would remind her detractors why she is deserving of the title Queen. Much of the discussion centered around her music dials down to the validity of her lyricism, and what’s a better way to silence your critics than with bars?

CORRY: I personally enjoy Queen, and it has replay value for me. She revisited a lot of what made me like her: humor, the variation of flow, and that grunting we could never forget. But, in the era of cancel culture and because of the access we have to public figures, it’s extremely easy to decide not to listen. Because of her behavior, some people were over Queen before it was released. Social media and the streaming era has created that fatigue.

As the lane for female rappers continues to expand, how do you see Nicki's role as a veteran evolving?

MILLER: The evolution of Nicki’s role as a seasoned rap vet ultimately comes down to her willingness to extend her legacy beyond herself and pass on the baton. Many of the women buzzing today who are looking to occupy the same lane credit the Queens MC for inspiring their journey. Yet Nicki fails to embrace the influx of women shaping hip-hop’s new sound in the same vein as she does the Rolodex of men she often chooses to collaborate with (Lil Uzi Vert, 6ix9ine, Playboi Carti, etc.). It’s an alarming oversight, particularly for an entertainer who often vocalizes her distaste for the industry’s trivial double-standards.

MILLER: I would hope that in her taking on the title of Queen, and essentially that of queen of rap, Nicki understands that one of her primary roles is to make room for more women to occupy the same lane. There is a surplus of women—black women might I add—dominating rap at this present moment, and it’s time that the Head Barb makes it a point to recognize them. Her disregard of the next generation could ultimately be costly.

Do you see there being any ageism at play in some of the criticism surrounding this album and Nicki’s behavior? Why do people expect her to be entering a “mature” phase at this point in her career?

THOMPSON: Ageism is prevalent in hip-hop, but it tends to affect women more, along with sexism, misogyny, and a plethora of other 'isms. Ageism is unfair and crass but the only resolution is to evolve and grow with your audience and hope it sticks. I believe that Nicki is going back to the past because it seemed to work earlier on in her career, so perhaps it’s easier to go back to her “comfort place” instead of creating groundbreaking art.

KAILA PHILO: What Nicki is facing right now isn’t “ageism,” per se. The women who stepped through the door she opened—Cardi B, Rico Nasty, City Girls, Bbymutha—make more interesting music because they had to.

ORCUTT: Hip-hop as a culture is still growing; it’s barely just starting to get grey hair. While hip-hop traditionally appears to favor youth culture, there’s value in seeing artists embrace their maturation and demand longevity.

Ageism is something that the culture has no choice but to collectively confront and challenge—and I do think it’s an area where there is a double-standard, to a degree. Women have to work twice as hard to receive half the credit (Nicki can and does speak on this), and the same is true when it comes to remaining relevant in what has traditionally been a young man’s game.

CORRY: This summer’s releases were ruled by artists who “should be” washed, if we’re speaking in terms of rap skewing younger. We let PUSHA rap about coke at 41. Future is still making toxic bangers at 34. Kanye said he respects women now because he had a daughter. Age is not equivalent to growth, but if that’s where fans are drawing the line, it should apply to men and women across the board. There’s a way the masses will dab through Future’s depression and let Kanye befriend right-wing politicians in a way they’d never do for Nicki.

Wanna, you made her DM exchange public after you posted a mildly critical tweet. What do we make of her response to some of the criticism surroundingQueen?

THOMPSON: I'm disappointed, especially as a former fan. After making a simple critique on Twitter, the rapper entered my DMs and tore into me for making an honest observation. Her flagrant statements ultimately shed a light on a larger issue that many writers face: censorship. In my opinion, Nicki's “women empowerment” shtick is nothing but a façade after she made some pretty baseless comments about sex work in a recent article. She initially used the “aesthetic” of sex work to gain notoriety throughout her career, so it’s looking a little funny in the light.

ORCUTT: Nicki’s relationship with control has been very tightly wound when it comes to her image and her career, because for many reasons, it has to be. She has crafted her image as that of the off-limits Barbie who earned her spot to hang out at the boys’ club and is a bad-ass boss-bitch. Being anything less than [that] in the court of public opinion opens her to criticism that she’s getting old, that she’s slipping, that she’s lazy, that she’s no longer the best, etc. Nicki didn’t work this hard to “be caught slippin,” ever.

However, censoring and lashing out at journalists for criticizing where her career has taken her (among other commentary) is a move from Trump’s playbook—and that, to me, is just sad. Her treatment of criticism is a reflection of ego, pettiness, and insecurity—the opposite of what her music represents: empowerment, bossed up energy and confidence. A woman silencing a woman is not the move in 2018. Why is criticism Nicki’s kryptonite?

CORRY: Amid the rollout, her reaction to the press bothers me most. We may not ever be able to change her relationship with 6ix9ine, but the larger issue is how culture treats criticism, especially when it comes from black women critics. On episode 4 of Queen Radio, she made it a point to highlight how black women are silenced in the workplaces, and while that’s true, she hasn’t acknowledged her role in that censorship. Even after Wanna’s incident, Minaj joined fans as they critiqued Shanita Hubbard’s op-ed for Pitchfork about her friendship with 6ix9ine. I don’t recall seeing malice from her or her fan base after Elle interview, even though it spun her store into more Cardi/Nicki content.

There’s a misconception that writers are being paid to negatively critique her, when critics are simply being paid to critique. That’s literally our job. Nicki and the Barbz’s reaction to critics has become this thing where we’re conflating major issues but fighting the same battle. We’re women; we want to be seen and heard. We want to put out quality work and have integrity. Her delivery may not be people’s preferred method, but we’re not exactly fighting for different things here.

What were your thoughts on her collaboration with 6ix9ine?

ORCUTT: Her unapologetic embrace of 6ix9ine feels like a twisted misstep to me, not a rebellious act. In my opinion, she should be challenged and questioned for her decision to work with him. Seeing a 22-year-old troll-turned-rapper with a reputation for chasing controversy and a 35-year-old icon sharing an ice cream cone in a campy music video just repulsed me. It feels like every time Nicki collaborates with someone like a 6ix9ine, there is a missed opportunity to make history with a woman. So many other artists are worthy of the airtime.

CORRY: Agreed. I love “Coco Chanel,” and the homage to Foxy and Caribbean culture. It’s arguably one of the best songs on Queen. But it blows my mind that Drake put City Girls on “In My Feelings.” Imagine the impact of a “Ladies Night”or “Lady Marmalade” in 2018.

PHILO: How does one go from collaborating with Beyonce to 6ix9ine? I don’t think she has a cohesive message for Queen, because based on her Elle interview, she seems to be full of contradictions at the moment—for example, disparaging the use of sexuality for money while releasing a long-anticipated album with her breasts out on the cover. All of that is fine! Nobody’s sure of themselves all of the time. [Still,] it seems as though she produced Queen when she should have been doing some immense soul-searching, and that usually leads to either poor choices or an extended hiatus. [In choosing to collaborate with 6ix9ine] She chose the former.

CORRY: It’s unfortunate that the perception of her friendship with 6ix9ine isn’t set to the same standards as her contemporaries’ embrace of other problematic artists. No one flinched when Kendrick threatened to pull his music from Spotify after their hateful conduct policy against XXXTentacion. Unfortunately, because rap is built on misogyny, people aren’t going to double down on men who actively engage with abusers. When a woman does it, and she also says that she wants to uplift women, that makes her susceptible to criticism —even though we’re not exactly tasking rappers like Drake and Future with uplifting women in the first place. Black women know the “twice as hard” speech.

What, as fans of Nicki, can we take away from all the controversy surrounding this album?

THOMPSON: I haven't listened to "FEFE" or Queen, for personal reasons. I refrain from listening to toxic artists within the industry, including R. Kelly and Kodak Black. I want to say that Nicki is still passionate about music and prioritizing quality over quantity, but her actions over the last few days prove otherwise. While her stans keep her name trending on social media, they have failed to give their Queen a number-one album and a sold-out tour.

PHILO: There’s a lot to take away: That she’s panicking, for starters. Entertainers have it easy to blame their failures on identity politics, like when Kanye demanded only black music writers review The Life of Pablo after some random white man said he didn’t like it. All the while, he hasn’t spoken to a black-led music magazine in years.

It seems like Nicki now believes she’s passed her prime, and she’s spiraling because she thinks it’s all downhill from here when it doesn’t have to be. People are saying that this is her best album yet, and it is! But it must be scary to release your apparent magnum opus, only for it to be bested by someone newer and younger to the game.

ORCUTT: Since Queen was released, there’s been a lot to digest, between the album itself, the numbers it did, her reaction to said numbers, her airing out Safaree, her sticking up for Normani at the VMAs, her rescheduling her tour, her Beats 1 Radio Show, and her making what felt like a refreshing and overdue but at times tense press run. It’s become hard to separate the wins from the losses, and it feels as though where the pendulum falls depends on your own fandom.

To me, fandom culture is equal parts dangerous, intriguing, and somewhat understandable, and while its degree of severity may be transient over time, fans of megastars and the call-to-action aspect that comes in line with said fandom isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. Queen, if anything, further solidifies that. The conversations surrounding Nicki’s legacy certainly aren’t dying down either, and I’m curious to see what else goes down as 2018 continues to unfold, even if Queen isn’t necessarily part of my go-to, day-to-day soundtrack, like a part of me hoped it would be.

Follow Wanna ThompsonKaila PhiloKC OrcuttKai Miller, and Kristin Corryon Twitter.

Nicki Minaj op-ed

Author's Note: This op-ed was originally written in response to Nicki Minaj's decision to collaborate with Tekashi 6ix9ine and evolved from there into a larger critique of what I, like countless others, would like to see in the next era of her artistry. The original publication was required to pull the piece for internal reasons. In hindsight, I would have liked to have mentioned that she brought DeJ Loaf and Tinashe on tour with her in 2015 as well as has "hinted" at bringing several women mentioned in this piece on her 2018 tour with her, a detail that in my research I could not confirm to be true at this moment in time. Both of those points are valid and should be included in the narrative. However, I also feel that there overall is a larger desire to see that same energy continued now that a new era of women-made rap is upon us. Like many fans who respect and honor Nicki's legacy, I'm curious to see where she fits into the conversation and cultural landscape today, and how her next album speaks to her legacy and evolution (or lack thereof) alike. Overall, I appreciate the opportunity to explore this topic openly and continue a conversation that so many are adamantly and visibly passionate about. Thank you for reading.


How Nicki Minaj’s disregard of the women she inspires may ultimately cost her
What’s a queen without her kingdom?

Nicki Minaj has spent her entire career demanding respect and settling for nothing less. Now entering her second decade of consistently commanding the spotlight, topping the Billboard charts and becoming one of the world’s best-selling artists across genres (let alone in rap), it’s safe to say she’s more than paid her dues and rightfully earned her throne. However, with all eyes on her leading up to her fourth studio album, Queen, due out August 10, Minaj still has something to prove. It’s not necessarily about questioning her past accomplishments but more so about what this next chapter of her career will say about her legacy, especially in the eyes of her female fans and counterparts.

While the majority of her focus has been determinedly and justifiably pointed at earning her spot in a male rapper’s world—occasionally offering the valid observation that regardless of the industry, women have to work twice as hard for half the recognition—a lot has shifted culturally in the four years since the release of her 2014 magnum opus, The Pinkprint.

Putting aside the feminist resurgence the world at large is experiencing as I type this, a new era has also arrived for rap. For one, as exemplified by Remy Ma and Cardi B being recipients of the 2017 and 2018 BET Award for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist respectively, Nicki isn’t competing with herself anymore. As a new, much-embraced wave of women creators continues to flourish—dozens of which credit the Queens MC for inspiring their careers in the first place—one can’t help but wonder where Nicki now fits after spending a decade fighting for her lane and, in turn, whether she likes it or not, paving a path for the next generation of women creators.

Competition will always be woven into the very fabric of rap music regardless of gender. With that in mind and considering the fact that the hip-hop historically doesn’t bode well when it gets wind of two women succeeding at once, it’s as easy to criticize Minaj’s lack of hip-hop sisterhood as it is to understand it from the root.

When Nicki collaborated with Migos and Cardi B on “Motorsport,” she experienced a full circle moment, one sewn together by the contrasting feelings of longing for respect and not receiving it in return; a historic cycle reminiscent of what she had gone through with Lil’ Kim at the beginning of her career (and alternatively, what Kim went through previously with Foxy Brown). Cardi B’s apparent disregard of Nicki as her OG hit her hard, just as Nicki’s homages to Kim eventually crossed a line and ignited a lasting beef.

With lessons learned the hard way that the relationships between other women in hip-hop have been inherently confusing to navigate, thanks largely in part to how the culture’s reflex is to pit women against each other, Nicki has fallen short on a couple recent occasions, leaving some of hip-hop’s widespread audience feeling a bit uncertain or even indifferent about her forthcoming project. We all know the project will do numbers (how can it not) but what will it add to her legacy?

First, her beef with Remy Ma ignited in hip-hop fans that track-for-track excitement that so many had been nostalgic for. However, instead of fighting to protect her crown, she instead chose to polish it by reminding Remy that she has more hits and has secured more bags at the end of the day. And while numbers are an undeniably important part of the conversation, fans wanted and expected more from Nicki; perhaps because they had grown accustomed to her coming out on top regardless of circumstance. While her back and forth with Remy arguably fell short and fizzled out, Nicki would later put that same money she bragged about to good use, admirably paying off dozens of student loan payments after asking for her Barbz fanbase to tweet her receipts and winning back the adoration of some of her critics.

However, her philanthropy alone isn’t enough to protect her from those same critics coming back in swarms, especially considering how Nicki has had a couple of misses with the press lately, a key factor in building hype around her new music (outside of her own ginormous social followings, of course). From her offensive commentary during a recent interview with Elle (which was framed with a “I don’t really know how to say that without being offensive”) during which she blasts “modern day prostitutes” and wonders if she’s “contributed to that in some way;” to lashing out at music journalist Wanna Thompson for sharing her personal music opinions on Twitter; to receiving backlash from Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness for entertaining a cover story with Harper’s Bazaar Russia and alienating her LGBTQ+ fans by doing so, it’s as if Nicki should know better by now. She either doesn’t care about potential repercussions with the media or is so lost in her own sauce a la Kanye West her missteps don’t ever get back to her. Regardless of what the “haters” may be saying, Nicki continues to blissfully tweet about her upcoming album, reporting live from her own world and making it clear it’s going to take more than some social media backlash to steal her renowned razor-sharp focus. After all, she has the Barbz equipped and ready to fight for her in her mentions and the mentions of those brave (or naive) enough to strike back. 

So now, after releasing two successful singles (“Chun-Li” and “Barbie Tingz”) and the ball back in her court, what’s her next move? Announcing a massive tour with Future (okay, sure) and most recently, dropping a song with the ever-polarizing Tekashi 6ix9ine (uh, sis?!).

Did we need this “Fefe” joint? Did anyone (above the age of 15) ask for that? Is anyone else grossed out by a 35-year-old who denounces promiscuity in practice while being promiscuous in image and a 22-year-old with a criminal past of pedophilia trading raunchiness bar-for-bar and promoting such a track with cutesy Claymations of themselves licking the same ice cream cone? Aesthetically speaking, this might just be the biggest L of 2018 so far. And that goes without even bringing her brother's criminal convictions into the conversation. All that aside, the collaboration with Tekashi 6ix9ine stings the most because it further amplifies how Nicki is not only capable of working with a plethora of up-and-coming artists and is open to the idea but actively chooses not to indulge any of the dozens of black women who openly credit her for inspiring their own music careers. Many critics of this stance point out that other women can't afford a Nicki feature, and that 6ix9ine can, but does that excuse her refusal to read the proverbial rap room that this might be a decision she'll have to defend? With the Cardi B feature, Nicki laughed off the theory that she didn't know who she was doing a song with, which further illustrates how her collaboration with 6ix9ine was more than a check clearing; it was calculated. She's going to have to defend this decision at some point.

As of now, all signs point to the fact that the decision to name her album Queen was a self-serving one that further expands her 'me against the world attitude,' when the word could also serve to explore its definition as a term of endearment, empowerment and the relationships women have with themselves and with other women. Why should someone like Cardi B give Nicki “genuine love” if it's easier to avoid the hassle that ensued following their haphazard collaboration? I’m not saying the world won’t spin if they never get together on a track again, but damn, Nicki didn’t even hesitate at the opportunity to get in the studio with a rainbow-haired troll who pled guilty to the use of a child in a sexual performance, let alone entertain calling one of rap’s next female stars, such as Asian Doll, Kash Doll, Rico Nasty, Kamaiyah, Saweetie, Bhad Bhabie (who arguably would fill the same troll quota as 6ix9ine for those who refuse to accept Danielle Bregoli as a legitimate rapper), Kodie Shane, Maliibu Miitch and Tierra Whack, to name a few.

Although she herself has said, during an emotional conversation with Zane Lowe, she “can only imagine how many girls wished they could’ve been on a song with Nicki Minaj,” it appears as though such a possibility still only lives within. Her ego, or perhaps her conditioning, will never allow such an idea to come to surface, especially considering the women she shouted out in that same interview deserve more than a namedrop. While Nicki has no problem collaborating with Ariana Grande, who is a confirmed featured artist on Queen (“Bed”), her hesitancy to fully embrace younger female rappers is both disappointing and predictable; a blow that is only strengthened in the existence of her track with someone like a Tekashi 6ix9ine.

At what point does Nicki Minaj’s blatant disregard for dishing out the same respect she herself spent years working for, as well as her apparent inability to take criticism, come back to bite her? At what point does the Barbz fanbase have second thoughts about their unconditional fandom? Or will grow up and get tired of defending her shiny, plastic narrative? Her habitual choice to not work with or lift up other women, seems like a bad call, especially at a time where such a choice could lift her legacy even higher. Fans want to see evolution and growth at this stage in the game. Mentoring others and passing the baton would show she’s in control of her influence and invested in a culture she helped create, much like how her legendary contemporaries, such as JAY-Z, Nas, Drake, Lil Wayne, T.I., Diddy, Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, among others, have had not only the business acumen but the genuine desire to give back to a culture that made them tastemakers and millionaires in the first place, such as with endeavors like TIDAL, Mass Appeal, OVO Sound, Hustle Gang, REVOLT TV, TDE and Dreamville. While she has had smart collaborations in the past, such as her M.A.C lipstick, her perfume or her wine spritzer company Myx Beverage, these showcase the strength of her personal brand, not her interest in providing resources for others to utilize and grow with. There's an untapped market as a female entrepreneur in hip-hop and Nicki could truly do some amazing things if she chose to tap in.

From her interviews to her four-year hiatus, it’s evident Nicki is in a state of reinvention, with hopes to “get deep” with fans by openly discussing things like heartbreak, betrayal, abandonment, relationship rumors, spirituality, and workaholism fueled by perfectionism, among other personal topics. The best reinvention, if you ask me, just might be beginning to embrace other women in music and seeing what you can build together, instead of ignoring the battle cries when you too were once in the trenches. We all can imagine it’s not easy being Nicki Minaj, but she can certainly make it a little easier for herself.