There have been many female rappers over the years who have left a huge impact on the rap industry. Female rappers such as: Queen Latifiah, M.C Light, Eve, Lil Kim, Foxy Brown and Lauryn Hill have paved the way for female rappers of today. However, there is one name that should definitely be added to this list and that is Nicki Minaj.
Nicki Minaj has done something in the rap industry that only she was able to achieve. I would like to call that achievement, the gift of reinventing yourself. It is no secret that the careers of female rappers normally last up to 10 years, if you are lucky. In 2007, Nicki Minaj released her first mixtape, which means she has been in the industry for 16 years.
Now some people may ask, what about Queen Latifiah and Eve’s success? I would rebuttal the fact that Queen Latifiah and Eve both had to venture into the acting world. This is not to take away from their accomplishments, but Nicki Minaj has solely done this by rapping alone.
I believe that one of the ways that Nicki Minaj was able to constantly reinvent herself was through her alter egos. Minaj has referred to herself as: The Harajuku Barbie, Nicki the Ninja, Chun-Li, Roman Zolanski, Martha Zolanski and Norman. She has more alter egos, but that is just to name a few.
One of the reasons that Minaj’s alter egos is so refreshing is solely because of her acting skills. As a teen she went to a performance art school where she studied drama. Her ability to make you believe that she is truly these characters are phenomenal. You can hear her acting not only come through the camera, but through the way she delivers her verses. She may have taken inspiration from the talented female rappers before her, but this very detail is what set her apart.
This idea is so clever because one can name an alter ego and it will directly transport you back to a certain era of her career. Her alter egos bring not only nostalgia but a constant rebirth. I also think that her brand being associated with Barbie the fashion doll also keeps her young and able to reach new audiences.
Even though her branding is very sharp, her mind also allows her to do this. Nicki Minaj is known to constantly be able to infuse herself through different genres of music. She has excelled in not only the rap world but in dance hall, pop and gospel. At one point in time, no matter what station that you turned on, it seemed like Nicki Minaj was somewhere on the radio.
Although she gets criticism for “attitude,” that is also something that also has kept her in this industry. She is known to not let anyone walk all over her. In this male-driven field that she graces, she does not let the male gaze and opportunities afforded to those who conform. She stayed true to herself and fought to be respected in the industry.
The same attitude that afforded her to be respected also took her out of the music industry for a little while. Most female rappers rarely recover from taking too long of a hiatus from music especially when everyone is looking for the next big thing.When it comes to women, youth and the ability to remain young is what keeps people interested in one’s craft as a rapper. This is where I think that Minaj’s love for the craft is what finally allows her to continue to reinvent herself. Because she loves what she does, she is constantly searching for new inspiration.
When you love doing something, you never know enough. You are constantly learning new ways to bring your craft to life. I think because Nicki Minaj has been getting ridiculed since she first hit the scene, she has never gotten the chance to just be comfortable in her achievements. I think this feeling of constantly having to prove yourself brings about a certain hunger when it comes to the art that you produce.