While touting her new E! special, Nicki Minaj told USA Today, “I’m not trying to have a façade. I’m showing exactly what goes on in my life. I think people will be surprised at seeing that.”
Through no fault of her own, there was reason to be skeptical about Nicki Minaj: My Truth; most “inside looks” into the lives of today’s mega pop stars prove themselves to be as carefully story boarded as anything on VH1’s Monday night line-up. To her credit, Minaj has lived up to the standard she set and validated remarks like “You’ll see by the first episode that I didn’t care that the cameras were on.”
However, the honesty she’s shown thus far on the three-part mini series isn’t always easy to watch. Despite having pledged allegiance to #TeamMinaj since watching Minaj proclaim her greatness on the streets of NYC five years ago, even I can’t dispute critiques of the rapper as a “whining, demanding diva over the most frivolous things” and an “egomaniac convinced that she is doing so much for the world.” Recently Minaj used Twitter to big up the production company behind her 2010 MTV special My Time Now for not “trying to sell a story,” but her on-air behavior on her latest TV foray plays into an unfavorable narrative about her that’s been brewing all year.
Watching Minaj lay into employees over a side of greens, articles of clothing, her set and other trivial matters just felt unnecessary. Yes, you get an understanding of why she can be snippy—she’s under tremendous pressure from juggling a bevy of responsibilities— yet that’s no excuse. All it does is remind me of interviews like one she gave to VIBE earlier this year in which she went into condescension overdrive over not having things go the way exactly as she wanted them to.
She addresses her pressures on the first episode while recording the single “Freedom” for her revamped version of Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, but even that comes across as whiny. Minaj complains that she feels as though “people purposely ignore my contributions to hip-hop,” and for Black women. It’s a similar point she made in an interview with theGrio in which she said, “A lot of times within the Black community, especially the older Black women, they kinda just write me off.”
The pop star then went into some explanation as to how her career demonstrates that Black women can sell products and be highly influential, subsequently concluding: “And so that’s what I want Black women to understand. I’m not asking you to love everything I do. But I’m asking you to keep it real with yourself and really see exactly what I have been doing. It’s very important that they realize these things weren’t really being done like this before Nicki Minaj.”
But there are some things Minaj needs to grasp herself, such as the world existing before her and that the inroads she has made for hip-hop and Black women at large (particularly internationally) were made possible by other rappers and crossover stars, including Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott and Lil’ Kim. In other words: girl, please be more humble, and goodness, get over the fact that not everyone likes you.
I hate the patriarchal, faux-hip-hop purist nonsense that Hot 97 DJ Peter Rosenberg hurled at her this summer, but just as she doesn’t need his approval, Minaj needn’t worry over whatever older Black women she thinks won’t give credit where it’s “due.” None of it has or will stop her.
All you get from Nicki Minaj: My Truth is that she’s allowed those critiques to mess with her far more than she ever should have. To the point where the pressure she’s put on herself makes her appear to be the kind of employer you pray to never work for. There are some positives—seeing the joy Nicki gets from her unbelievably devoted fan base—but it’s somewhat muddied by the unpleasantness that seems to accompany the fame she so diligently sought after.
In My Time Now, Minaj was right to point out the double standards between men, and women as far as aggressiveness is concerned: “When I am assertive, I’m a b*tch. When a man is assertive, he’s a boss. He bossed up. No negative connotation behind ‘bossed up.’ But lots of negative connotation behind being a b*tch.”
It’s as fair a point now as it was then. However, mean is mean and no matter the culprit, it needn’t be celebrated.
On this latest TV venture, Minaj said: “My Truth is more revealing of the drive…the beast…the demand…the machine… but its important 2 remember its only one side of me”
As a big fan of an artist I find wildly charismatic, charming, and comical, I sure hope so.