After the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement saying it was “deeply disturbed by the unadulterated Nazi imagery” found in the lyric video for Nicki Minaj’s latest single, “Only,” the rapper herself offered the sort of apology that grates the nerves of those who understand the way genuine apologies work.
Taking to Twitter, Minaj first explained, “The artist who made the lyric video for ‘Only’ was influenced by a cartoon on Cartoon Network called ‘Metalocalypse’ & Sin City.” After that came a partial act of contrition: “but I’m very sorry & take full responsibility if it has offended anyone. I’d never condone Nazism in my art.”
There is no “if.” People were offended, thus sparking public statements of condemnation and Nicki Minaj’s subsequent damage control by way of these series of tweets. One day, folks will understand that when saying you’re sorry, you do not add the prefix “if” as it is redundant and obnoxiously stubborn in taking true responsibility. Interestingly enough, while Nicki Minaj may never “condone Nazism in my art,” only a week ago did articulate how controlling she is with respect to her career.
As she explained to Billboard: “People don’t know how heavily involved I am in my own career. I’m on 15 to 25 conference calls every few days strategizing with my team. I think a lot of artists sit back and have it done for them. Sometimes as women in the industry — if you’re sexy or like doing sexy things — some people subconsciously negate your brain. They think you’re stupid.”
Well, so-so apology or not, Nicki Minaj is certainly not stupid enough to sit idle as the Anti-Defamation League released statements noting her use of Nazi imagery in her creative content. Hopefully, she’s smart enough to no longer work with the direction in question, who released his own statement that ultimately boils down to “sorry not sorry.” However, one wonders if Nicki Minaj will repeat the same mistake she made when she used anfamous image of Malcolm X for the track “Lookin Ass Nigga.”
When met with criticism from Malcolm X’s daughter and the late civil rights leaders’ estate, Minaj wrote a statement via Instagram – noting that the image was never the “official artwork.” Then came this: “I apologize to the Malcolm X estate if the meaning of the photo was misconstrued. I have nothing but respect (and) adoration for u.”
But, but, but: Then came “Chiraq,” and Nicki rapping, “Malcolm X daughter came at me, lookin’ ass niggas ain’t happy.” A few of us wondered whether the rapper felt wrongly slighted after the world tapped her on the shoulder to say, “No, baby, that ain’t it.”
A friend of mine compared Nicki Minaj’s antics to those of Madonna – a frustrating sentiment if there ever was one. Say what you will about Madonna, but at her peak, there was at least a message behind her rabble-rousing. Be it criticisms of Catholicism, advocacy for the LGBT community, or protests of archaic views on a woman’s right to express her sexuality, there was often some larger point rooted in her acts of controversy. Not all of the time, but more often than not.
You would think a Black woman would know a thing or two about being marginalized, thus grasp that invoking Malcolm or Hitler-styled propaganda for publicity is cheap at best and enormously ignorant at worst. As much as I adore Nicki Minaj and her dedication to being a complicated figure in culture, when she does things like the “Only” lyric video or invoking Malcolm X to clown loser men in the club, I often wonder what is exactly her point? The same goes for that time she “endorsed” Mitt Romney.
What is it you’re trying to say exactly, Nicki Minaj? To be fair, not everything needs to mean something – ala that somewhat perplexing GQ profile where the writer tried to push Nicki to make “Anaconda” a grander statement than perhaps she intended it to be. Sometimes a thing simply isn’t that deep, but when you commission a person to trot out material from Hitler’s handbook, shouldn’t it be for a reason other than “Look at me?”
At the core, she is a mainstream artist who wants attention, but you also know that Nicki Minaj wants to be taken seriously. The former requires nothing more than making noise, but the latter requires one to actually have something to say. Not sure which angle Nicki Minaj will ultimately go, but her current shtick reads as a complete waste of her talent and our time.