Nicki Minaj inspires young women through her career



Ann Abbott Freeman


While getting back into the swing of things after spring break, I found myself updating my study music playlists. (It’s funny how you can forget how to do work after just a week of vacation.) As I struggled to remember how to read and write on the Sunday night before school started, I began to distract myself browsing suggested songs on Spotify. Nicki Minaj’s new song, “Truffle Butter,” was one of the first songs that caught my attention. It features the dynamic duo (Lil Wayne and Drake), so it is no surprise that the song caught my attention. 

One particular lyric stuck with me as I hummed the song to myself in my Mendel Science class the next day. Nicki raps, “I’m still the highest sellin’ female rapper, for the record.” This got me thinking, is Nicki in fact the highest selling female rapper? I decided to do a little more research on one of my favorite artists. Minaj is the only female rapper to be featured on the Forbes Hip Hop Cash Kings list. She has won American Music Awards, BET Awards, MTV Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards and countless others. The New York Times has referred to Nicki as “the most influential female rapper of all time.” 

My research confirmed what I already knew: she is killing the game. As a woman in a nearly all-male industry, Minaj has broken through glass ceiling after glass ceiling. She is a role model for girls everywhere. She is a feminist. Her music empowers women. Her overt sexuality empowers women. Commendably, she rose to the top on her own merit. 

Minaj proudly states that she never slept with a producer or fellow artist to advance her career. As so subtly stated in her 2014 hit single “Only,” Nicki has “never f****d Wayne” (or Drake for that matter). 

Discussing, not sleeping her way to the top in a 2013 interview with MTV News, Nicki stated, “not one single man in this industry can say that and I pride myself on that.” The 32-year-old Trinidad-born Queens native stated in an interview with Vogue last month that, “I think of myself as a woman who wants other women to be bosses and to be strong and to be go-getters.” 

Minaj, born Onika Tanya Maraj, started her career as a contributing artist on several well-known rappers’ records in the mid to late 2000s. Her debut studio album, Pink Friday, was released in 2010. 

In the past five years, she has released four other albums. Her net worth is valued at $50 million. Since 2010, Nicki Minaj has been nominated for 98 awards.

With a career as successful as Minaj’s, it is not surprising that she is no stranger to controversy. Her language is explicit. Her outfits are revealing. Her dancing is suggestive, to say the least. 

Interestingly enough, the motives behind her wild displays are quite admirable. Male rappers have been using half-naked women in their music videos for as long as music videos have existed, and it can be viewed as degrading and exploitative. 

Nicki Minaj decided to take a different approach in her songs and music videos. She uses the same minimally clothed women (including herself) to send the message that all women should be empowered by their bodies and their sexuality. 

Females should be able to reclaim their bodies and embrace their sexuality. When it comes to her own body, Minaj has never been shy about her famous hourglass figure. However, Nicki has also expressed exasperation with the fascination and commentary concerning her incredible assets. 

Her argument that it is her business whether her butt and chest are real or fake is valid. Male rappers certainly don’t deal with the same scrutiny concerning their bodies that female artists do. The fact that Minaj exposes herself, emotionally and physically, in her songs speaks to her conviction that women can use their sexuality for purposes other than receiving attention from men. Is it so hard to believe that women dress and act for themselves and not for men? 

Her sexuality alone could not have gotten Nicki the fame she enjoys in the rap industry. Talent-wise, she can hold her own, even on tracks with the likes of JAY Z and Kanye West, who have been top dogs in the industry for decades. In fact, critics argue she had the best verse in the song, “Monster,” from West’s 2010 album, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.”        

Her versatile raps have found their place on tracks with artists as varied as Justin Bieber and Eminem. A self-described “boss,” Minaj has plans for a bright future full of Grammys, adventures and a family. 

Nicki Minaj is a woman on a mission and it does not look like she is going anywhere anytime soon.