As we’ve learned Hip Hop is a very aggressive masculine industry. Where women are represented in one of two ways. Hypersexualized or masculine and anti-sexual. You can count the number of female rap artists on your hand. So with that said, I don’t think it can be disputed that the most popular female rapper in this moment is Nicki Minaj. I don’t think anyone will oppose me using her as a model for what a successful female rap artist is. Notice I said successful and not ideal. Nicki Minaj has capitalized off of her success and parlayed it into makeup, perfume, and television deals. So what is it that makes Nicki Minaj so successful?
Nicki Minaj’s name represents the first component of what is necessary to make a successful female rapper—sex appeal. Minaj a play on her real last name Maraj and also an ode to America’s favorite French phrase “,ménage á trois.” Nicki Minaj used her sex appeal to garner attention also representing the fantasy of female homosexuality to appeal to a larger fanbase. Nicki Minaj’s image is more than behavior her appearance plays a big factor into her success as well. Nicki Minaj represents main stream hip hop’s ideal image for a woman. The hottentot venus in her more modern form: beautiful, shapely, and light-skinned. Her light skin making her more marketable and relatable cross culturally (but I may be stretching here).
Somehow, Nicki Minaj’s music is also what makes her successful, she somehow seamlessly navigates through the harder edges mainstream black hip hop and the electric hip pop that is becoming more and more popular. Nicki Minaj raps with different convictions, flows and accents creating different personas that no one seems to question. Take, for instance, two of her current singles—Beez in the Trap and Va Va Voom—two singles you would never think to catch on the same radio station let alone the same album. One song talks about drug dealing using rather masculine braggadocio and misogynistic lyrics (women can be misogynistic too) and the other an upbeat electronic ditty about boys or something or other with a sing song chorus that seams made for Disney Channel.
Now that we all know a bit more about Hip Hop how does she navigate the pop base and the hip hop base so well? What do you think makes Nicki Minaj arguably the most successful female rapper?