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Feminism, stereotypes, and Nicki Minaj's album cover (NSFW)
July 29, 2014 10:57 PM   Subscribe

Nicki Minaj (autoplaying video) is a singer, rapper, songwriter and actress who is known for her outlandish outfits, makeup, and wigs, and gutsy, lyrically skilled rapping. She creates personas or "masks" in her music and videos to communicate her message. Recently, she released an album cover online to promote her new release, Anaconda, and to create buzz. Boy did it. (All links NSFW.)

While many gave a brief, knee-jerk yay or a lengthy, personal nay about the Anaconda artwork, some writers placed the photo in an historical context, as part of a narrative that hypersexualizes and stereotypes black women. Yet others took a Lacanian view of the album cover, pointing out an optical illusion that is not immediately apparent. Meanwhile, Pajiba.com gives a brief summary (NSFW) of the internet brouhaha.

Perhaps in a move to capitalize on the internet wave of blog posts, tweets, and other social media, Minaj recently announced on her Instagram account that the release date for Anaconda has been pushed back to August 8th.

Finally, a link that's safe for work (SFW) : Racialicious, "Nicki Minaj: The Flyest Feminist" by April Gregory (also posted at Static). The writer traces her evolving thought on Nicki Minaj, and explains how the artist came to be an important feminist performer for her:
It is this same notion of power – as well as empowerment – that catalyzed my reevaluation of Nicki Minaj. I began to question the social constructions of womanhood as well as the hegemony within certain tracks of feminist thought that caused my discomfort with Nicki. What's more, I realized that I wasn't cool with Nicki speaking so openly about her body and sexuality not because it constituted a violation of my feminism, but because the norms of our patriarchal society dictate that women ought not to openly express their sexuality – and I had internalized those norms. Why shouldn't I be okay with Nicki's language? The way she dresses? The ideologies she espouses? Considering these questions and others has brought me to the conclusion that ultimately, no one is forcing Nicki Minaj to dress and act like a coquettish Barbie. Everything she does is of her own volition, and she is not submissive to patriarchy. Rather, Nicki takes patriarchal notions of femininity and womanhood, reclaims them, and makes them work for her. In doing so, she reverses the paradigm of female inferiority and submissiveness and creates a model of empowerment for those who look up to her.
Bonus: animated gif (SFW)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (325 comments total) 55 users marked this as a favorite

 
I just want to say I love Nicki Minaj and I love this post. A lot of me loving Nicki Minaj involves some rolling of my eyes and going "Okay, Nicki." When she's bad, she's very bad, but when she's good, she's great. I really enjoyed the link about the "optical allusion". It put it in a whole new perspective and I totally buy it. Looking forward to the new album.
posted by bleep at 11:08 PM on July 29 [6 favorites]


Great post. I've been mulling over this stuff and haven't come up with any easy, neat answers. Nicki is not always my cup of tea, but what she does is unquestionably art. She poses questions and creates contradictions, and forces you to engage. She also consistently trolls trashboys and gives no fucks, and I have to love her for that.
posted by naju at 11:09 PM on July 29 [7 favorites]


I'm baffled by that cover being considered NSFW. I've seen as much bare ass on ads and music videos. I believe Minaj herself pointed out the variety of magazine covers and suchlike which had the same amount of skin covered up - or less, as Minaj is wearing a larger top - which aren't considered NSFW and can't help but accept her implicit hypothesis that it's about her race and agency, not the amount of butt seen.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:12 PM on July 29 [30 favorites]


^I'm baffled by that cover being considered NSFW.^

I guess it depends where you work, *Deoridhe*. I'm baffled by you being baffled, tbh; I've seen plenty of bare ass on other media as well, but none of it (white or black) would be considered SFW in the vast majority of workplaces I've been in either.
posted by Salamander at 11:22 PM on July 29 [12 favorites]


I get the whole thing of talentless awful disgusting attention-hungry people becoming famous and suddenly people think what they do has cultural cache, but seriously, she's just selling albums and she's part of the mainstream even though everyone is wanking off that she's pornographic. She sounds like everyone else, does nothing innovative, has nothing to say, and is as formulaic as a Michael Bay film. Big ass/deal.
posted by ReeMonster at 11:53 PM on July 29 [11 favorites]


Yeah, that's sort of where I come down, not surprised or disappointed and like the top-rated comment, my first thought was "nice fuckin' shoes!"
posted by aydeejones at 11:58 PM on July 29


Ah, the optical illusion link is awesome - the cover shot is hilarious seen that way, the pale pink sports bra and the baby blue shoes, and just really thoughtful graphic design from the pose and layout to the amazing photoshop job done on her body (or is she really that shinysmooth?) for that quietly glossy look. I have the vaguest idea of who she is, but that cover is really smart and funny, kudos.
posted by viggorlijah at 11:59 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Everyone needs to watch that bossed up rant, because that's unfiltered realtalk right there. Also that Lookin Ass video/song, wow. OK I'm excited for this album now. She's on an antagonistic level no one else is approaching at the moment.
posted by naju at 12:01 AM on July 30 [13 favorites]


Yet others took a Lacanian view of the album cover, pointing out an optical illusion that is not immediately apparent.

Wow, that is so powerful, and so undeniable once it's pointed out -- and as bleep so astutely notes, it's more of an "optical allusion", and a very deep one at that: in the older versions of the Greek myths, Aphrodite, the goddess of sexual love, is actually the severed genitals of the overthrown elder god Chronus, flung into the sea and transformed there, then washed back to shore in a welter of pearly foam.
posted by jamjam at 12:06 AM on July 30 [22 favorites]


So the idea here is that Minaj's torso and head are the phallus and her legs are the scrotum? Okay, I guess. "Undeniable" it ain't. And I seriously seriously doubt that Nicki Minaj would be there for the notion that a sex goddess is just the come-covered Bobbitt of a has-been Titan. Talk about a male-centered, castration anxiety perspective.
posted by gingerest at 12:31 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


"Undeniable" it ain't.

I thought so too, but have you tried squinting at it?
posted by EmGeeJay at 12:35 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


I also have no other explanation for the album being called Anaconda. That title in itself is 100% phallic.
posted by naju at 12:39 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


C'mon, it's a reference to Baby's Got Back! Yes, it's a dick joke. But she's not saying *she's* a dick.
posted by gingerest at 12:46 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


Shout OUT to what ReeMonster said

That, plus a continued puzzlement at the overdone intellectualizing applied to Minaj' particular schtick, as in the quote attached to the original post - i.e. "Everything she does is of her own volition, and she is not submissive to patriarchy. Rather, Nicki takes patriarchal notions of femininity and womanhood, reclaims them, and makes them work for her. In doing so, she reverses the paradigm of female inferiority and submissiveness and creates a model of empowerment for those who look up to her"

I can see that some people like what Minaj does, but these Continental deconstructions show a certain intellectual bankruptcy among intellectuals who use the equivalent of an entire English Language Association conference paper to say what essentially amounts to little more "I really like 'name the artist' shit", written in code.

Last, why is it that spewing a stream of four letter words is considered a good example for anyone to take on, or model?
posted by Vibrissae at 12:55 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


I'm getting a bit of a Chauncey Gardiner vibe here...
posted by pseudocode at 1:06 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


So the idea here is that Minaj's torso and head are the phallus and her legs are the scrotum?

No, her legs don't have much to do with it; her almost perfectly round bottom cheeks are the scrotum -- compare to an image of the phallus of a herm.

She would have had to wear a flesh colored bathing cap to make the resemblance any more exact.
posted by jamjam at 1:20 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


I think that sort of illustrates the point, Salamander. I mean, I can see lots of people thinking that the Minaj photo isn't SFW. On the other hand, many mainstream magazines routinely use shots that are, in my opinion, just as revealing--and I'd be pretty surprised if someone were shocked and horrified to see a coworker reading GQ or Vogue or any of the other magazines that pull this shit a few times a year.

So what's the difference? Maybe it's that Minaj isn't paired with a man, either fully dressed or pawing at her or both. Maybe it's because she doesn't have words written across her body a la recent Lady Gaga and Rihanna albums, neither of which caused any controversy. Maybe it's that she's not gazing demurely at the camera. Maybe it's that she doesn't look vulnerable or soft, like she's looking for your approval--she looks fierce as fuck, like she's waiting for you to challenge her. That bra she's wearing isn't an impress-your-date bra--it's a sports bra. Those shoes she's wearing aren't five-inch heels--they're sneakers.

What's interesting about this to me is that the mythical people of the internet keep saying that this is somehow too sexy. And I don't think that's it. I think that it's not sexy, at least not in the ways that we usually expect women and sexuality to be portrayed. That's why people are finding it uncomfortable. She doesn't look like a vulnerable waif. She looks like she's the goddamn boss, and, like the album's eponymous snake, she'll crush you if you fuck with her.

Last, why is it that spewing a stream of four letter words is considered a good example for anyone to take on, or model?

I would argue, frankly, that this is a great example for many young women. Because the only models a lot of girls and women have in their lives are women who apologize, and women who feel that they shouldn't rock the boat, and women who tell them to cover up and not tempt the boys and not "get themselves in trouble". Because girls are taught that they shouldn't stand up for themselves, and that they should play nice, that they should bite their tongues and shut up, and it's a fat lot of bullshit. Every girl deserves to have at least one role model who's going out there, for whatever value of there is applicable, and saying fuck you.
posted by MeghanC at 1:20 AM on July 30 [107 favorites]




gingerest, I think what jamjam was trying to point out is that there's a parallel here: Minaj as pictured in the cover for Anaconda is an allusion to her own hyper-sexualized identity in the public eye, which has been born out of gendered symbols and type-casting appropriated by the ever-amorphous Them, which she has then re-appropriated and wields to fight back against Them and carve out her own space in the world. This is much the same as Aphrodite's very identity, the goddess of pleasure and procreation (among other things), is an allusion to Aphrodite's inguinal origins.

(Either that, or it's late and everything's getting a very generous read tonight.)

Personally, I think it's even one step more awesome: Nicki Minaj is intentionally creating herself in the image of the gender-defined crucible she was born into. Her medium of choice as an artist is the same gender expectations and stereotypes reality is trying to aim at her, but all she wants to do is take them and turn the barrel around. Instead of being steered by her origins and her environment, she's the one driving now.

It's interesting to me to also think about why some people feel that working with reality-as-medium isn't an acceptable space for an artist to pursue self-expression inside of, perhaps the problematic and subjective definition of where the performing space ends and the observing space begins, or an (in)ability to divorce the "self" you are from the "self" you are perceived as.
posted by Snacks at 1:29 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


MeghanC: "I'd be pretty surprised if someone were shocked and horrified to see a coworker reading GQ or Vogue or any of the other magazines that pull this shit a few times a year."

I have a feeling that if someone at my old workplace were reading a magazine with any of those specific covers you linked to, HR would be hearing about it within the hour, and the person who brought in the magazine would be in a ton of hot water by the end of the day.

I mean, seriously, doesn't your workplace have any sexual harassment rules? You honestly mean to tell me that you think most workplaces would be cool with those magazine covers?
posted by Bugbread at 1:56 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


I concur with Bugbread.

Those are the kind of magazine covers you'd keep stashed in a drawer at work, and be very careful about how you folded them back before you had a discreet read on your lunch break. That's if you were game to bring them in at all. You wouldn't be leaving them casually tossed on your desk, put it that way.

Maybe it's my workplaces, but given that I've worked everywhere from remote mine-sites to city law offices, in three different countries, I wouldn't have thought so.

(I also think Minaj is displaying a lot larger area of usually-unseen flesh than some of those pictures. Besides actual genitalia, prominently-displayed, squatting bare ass cheeks are about as explicit as it gets. The equivalent would be, I dunno, large breasts with nothing but nipple tassles.)
posted by Salamander at 2:05 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


I mean, seriously, doesn't your workplace have any sexual harassment rules?

Yes? (Or it did, when my workplace wasn't my living room.) But I'm pretty sure that reading a magazine that you can walk into any drugstore and buy off the newsracks wouldn't run afoul of them. I mean, the first time I saw that True Blood cover it was on a table in the waiting room at my doctor's office.
posted by MeghanC at 2:09 AM on July 30 [9 favorites]


That's...kinda wow. But, ok, sure, that's how your workplace rolled. Maybe that's how a lot of workplaces roll, and mine was the odd one out. But before you jump to thinking that people might be saying NSFW because racism, keep in mind that it may just be because they worked at places where Maxim or the like would be definite sexual harassment violations, despite being available from newsracks.
posted by Bugbread at 2:21 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


for real, I'd like to know more about these workplaces that take sexual harassment policies seriously enough to take a hard line on American Apparel ads and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, because neither I nor anyone I've ever talked to about SH policies in the workplace has ever found one.
posted by kagredon at 2:21 AM on July 30 [12 favorites]


this, for example, was on a fucking public billboard
posted by kagredon at 2:23 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


MeghanC: That bra she's wearing isn't an impress-your-date bra--it's a sports bra. Those shoes she's wearing aren't five-inch heels--they're sneakers. Yes!

I love that she's wearing about as much as a lad's mag cover, but because she's so central and dramatic in the image - and because it's her alone, with agency implied by the cool considering expression on her face and her body pushing back in a position that looks sort of sexual, yet because of the sports bra/sneakers, sorta athletic at the same time, the image crosses out of the expected "sexy for the male gaze" to something much more interesting and confrontational.

It actually reminds me of a great series of sex workers in Nevada taken when they weren't on the clock, just doing ordinary stuff and the sex fantasy projection on them showing as a facade.

Also, I googled album covers 2014 and it did not take more than one page to find covers with more nudity. Now I will go add her to my Spotify list.
posted by viggorlijah at 2:28 AM on July 30 [8 favorites]


[A couple of comments deleted. Folks, maybe we can leave off individually challenging each other over what is or isn't safe for work in various workplaces, and generally ease up this micro discussion?]
posted by taz at 2:41 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


"Lookin Ass Nigga" Lyrics with helpful annotation and embedded vid.
posted by telstar at 2:41 AM on July 30


Last, why is it that spewing a stream of four letter words is considered a good example for anyone to take on, or model?

I would argue, frankly, that this is a great example for many young women...Because girls are taught that they shouldn't stand up for themselves, and that they should play nice, that they should bite their tongues and shut up, and it's a fat lot of bullshit. Every girl deserves to have at least one role model who's going out there, for whatever value of there is applicable, and saying fuck you.
posted by MeghanC at 1:20 AM on July 30 [10 favorites +] [!]


We'll probably have to agree to disagree, because I think it's a terrible example. There are a whole lot of other options besides 'be a doormat and shut up' and 'literally scream "fuck" at everyone and shoot off a machine gun'.
posted by Salamander at 2:48 AM on July 30 [6 favorites]


It feels like the album cover has lots of layers which it can be easy to miss partially because it's a minimalist image, and partly because how the viewer interprets (or notices) the layers is down to their own preconceptions.

I saw it and immediately though, hmmm the Escher like boobs-n-butt pose is kinda humanly possible.?

Even though to my untrained eye, it looks photoshoppy, I find anything near that pose annoying because I am a woman who enjoys comics and the slow drip,drip of the misogyny of those types of Esher poses/art makes me sad.

I do hope the pose as emulation-of-penis-profile was deliberate though. That would be amusing.
posted by Faintdreams at 2:52 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


My favorite part of the album cover is that vaguely disdainful side-eye look she's giving. It's not openly contemptuous or hostile, because she doesn't care that much about you to begin with. She just knows you're looking at her and forming judgments and she doesn't have time for your gaze. It's completely turning around the viewer/viewed relationship.
posted by naju at 2:59 AM on July 30 [33 favorites]


Yeah, that's my favorite part too.
posted by telstar at 3:08 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


"Large breasts with tassels"

As opposed to small breasts with tassels? See the tricky thing here is that even you have internalised that the scale of a body part is indicative of its vulgarity. But breast and buttock are controlled by the arbitrary genetic gods. This is similar to the absurd regulations that demand "tucked" labia minora as somehow more modest.
posted by Phalene at 4:12 AM on July 30 [40 favorites]


I don't get how a bare or near bare ass is more NSFW than a pair of tight disco shorts. Once you know the person's skin tone and butt shape, what's really left to the imagination?

I'm excited to see how record stores use stickers on this, whether for prudish or humorous reasons.
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:18 AM on July 30


She sounds like everyone else

Bees in the Trap sounds like nobody else ever.
posted by maxsparber at 4:20 AM on July 30 [22 favorites]


^See the tricky thing here is that even you have internalised that the scale of a body part is indicative of its vulgarity. ^

I didn't put that well, but no. It's not the size of the breasts so much as the visual space they take up in the image. If they were small breasts with nipple tassels, yet they were either photoshopped or thrust towards the lens so that they dominated the picture, it'd have the same effect.

My point was that the main focus of the picture is 'BARE ASS CHEEKS'.

^I don't get how a bare or near bare ass is more NSFW than a pair of tight disco shorts. Once you know the person's skin tone and butt shape, what's really left to the imagination?^

Not much, but enough to make it a cultural convention, I suppose. Same reason you can wear a skin-tight top to some workplaces, but not go topless.
posted by Salamander at 4:22 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Can anyone shed any light on whether she is a talented musician, and if so, what is it that she's bringing?

I only know her from 'Starships', which is pretty much a standard slice of Max Martin-school Swedish pop.
posted by colie at 4:29 AM on July 30


She sounds like everyone else

what. please tell me which popular rappers sound like Nikki Minaj.
posted by threeants at 5:29 AM on July 30 [11 favorites]


I don't know much about rap but Iggy Azalea sounds pretty similar to me.
posted by colie at 5:32 AM on July 30


Maybe I missed a huge wave of successful female rappers from the past 10 years that she is emulating. or maybe you're describing some lesser known artists that she is following, in which case I would love to hear about them.

But to be honest it just sounds like a scoff at top 40 music in general.

Iggy came after Nikki and doesn't really sound similar beyond being both female and rapping.
posted by tofu_crouton at 5:36 AM on July 30 [13 favorites]


I think I'm jaded. My first thought was: "How is this much different from Too Live Crew's cover art from way back in the 80s? /feels really really old
posted by skye.dancer at 5:40 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Huh. A Lacanian analysis of ass. Gotta say, wouldn't have come up with that on my own.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:46 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I think the deep message behind that cover is "Sex sells." Sometimes a banana is just a banana.

More interesting is that video. Rapping "Stop looking at my ass ass niggas" while shoving your ass in the camera as if to say "PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD LOOK AT MY ASS" (not to mention a whole career that pretty much screams "LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME") is a lovely contradiction.
posted by fungible at 5:52 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


So the idea here is that Minaj's torso and head are the phallus and her legs are the scrotum? Okay, I guess.

Her buttocks are the balls. Her back is the shaft. Her pink top and breasts form the shape of a penis head. I have no idea if it's intentional but it's kind of amazing once you see it.
posted by chrominance at 5:55 AM on July 30


My favorite part of the album cover is that vaguely disdainful side-eye look she's giving. It's not openly contemptuous or hostile, because she doesn't care that much about you to begin with. She just knows you're looking at her and forming judgments and she doesn't have time for your gaze. It's completely turning around the viewer/viewed relationship.

Ha! As if the same look isn't used in 10 bazillion porn shots on a daily basis.
posted by fungible at 5:56 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


Disdainful side eye is not something you see in a bazillion porn shoots. Good grief.
posted by maxsparber at 6:02 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


I must have seen the same porn as fungible, because the 'bored disdain' stripper eyeball seems pretty standard to me.
posted by colie at 6:04 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Well, Nicki Minaj is neither a porn star nor a stripper, and I wonder if we could pare back on these comparisons unless there is something more in-depth than "she looks like a sex worker" to them.
posted by maxsparber at 6:06 AM on July 30 [16 favorites]


When she's bad, she's very bad, but when she's good, she's great.

I'd put it more as: She can be bad, but only in a very, very good way.

My first thought was: "How is this much different from Too Live Crew's cover art from way back in the 80s? /feels really really old

If Too Live Crew had been putting photos of their own asses on the cover, it might be a good comparison. She did, and as analyzed better above than I can it's a very knowing and deliberate image and she's right that the reason it's getting any pushback and controversy is because of her race and agency. Other than maybe Tipper Gore's old PMRC and a fair bit of eye rolling, no one really cares if some dude puts a photo of a mostly naked woman on his album and you see more skin on any given month's set of fashion covers.

So it's not just the amount of skin that pushes buttons here -- it's who she is and how she did it.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:06 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]



Last, why is it that spewing a stream of four letter words is considered a good example for anyone to take on, or model?


You know, I don't see every artist or athlete or celebrity/person of note as a "role model". Where does the insistence come from that everyone in the public eye has to be a damn role model? She's not out there promoting herself as someone to emulate, so why are you denigrating her for not being something she doesn't want to be?
posted by palomar at 6:10 AM on July 30 [12 favorites]


unless there is something more in-depth than "she looks like a sex worker" to them.

The original comment was not that Minaj looks like a sex worker, it was taking issue with a quote that described her look to the camera as being somehow witty and shocking, when in fact it's quite commonplace according to some.

I'm still more interested in her music personally, because 'show your tits/bum and get publicity' is pretty ordinary.
posted by colie at 6:10 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I get it. Everybody gets it. It's actually one of the themes of the linked articles. The point is that Minaj is making an unexpected and challenging use of those tropes, and that's an interesting discussion.
posted by maxsparber at 6:12 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


If it's such an ordinary, seen-it-everyday image, such a boring trope, then why are so many people wigging out about it.

She's not my cup of tea, musically (from what I've heard, at least, which isn't much, so I could be wrong and maybe I should find out!), but I do love a good "fuck you."
posted by rtha at 6:15 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


Fair enough, it's just depressing that 'making challenging use of a trope' here seems to look exactly like just another instance of the ongoing pornification of everything.
posted by colie at 6:15 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


I think it is hilarious and I hope she sells a lot of music. It is no small thing to be able to "shock" in the music industry and two decades after Ice T - someone else who knew exactly what he was doing - and Gangsta Rap were successful in shocking many, yay for her. Especially since most Gangsta Rap relied (relies) so heavily on misogyny to be shocking. It's also a bit funny that the Parental Advisory thing started because of Gore's daughter making the link between Darling Nikki and masturbation.

Olympia's gaze is in play here and I agree that Minaj's gaze is confrontational, not porny/submissive. The media attention also has links to The Dead Kennedy's 1977 obscenity trial for Penis Landscape and the glorious photo that Lynda Benglis took of herself with a double headed dildo and paid to have in a 1974 art forum magazine.

I hereby pledge to begin listening to Nicki Minaj.
posted by Cuke at 6:17 AM on July 30


[One comment deleted; let's skip linking soft porn images to prove that some porn images have squatting women?]
posted by taz at 6:17 AM on July 30


I feel like a far as hidden phallic imagery goes, this is more like squinting at a magic eye stereoscopic image to maybe see a 3d dolphin than seeing the arrow in the FedEx logo and being amazed it was there the full time.

It's definitely intentional and clever, though. Just not a good "when you see it" picture at all, though. I had to do an inventory of shapes that make up a penis to see it.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:18 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


I think it is hilarious and I hope she sells a lot of music.

She already has one of the biggest selling singles of all time, a song that surely was mainly purchased by pre-teens (did anyone here purchase 'Starships'?).

To be huge pop star these days you have to go forward on multiple fronts, it seems, so you do sweary big-bum shock-rap as well as bubblegum pop and 'trope challenging' album covers.
posted by colie at 6:22 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Literally all I can think when I see it is that she's going to the bathroom on a camping trip.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:29 AM on July 30 [9 favorites]


So, I just watched the video on the Guardian link and would like to hear more! Other videos and songs of hers people can recommend, please?

(The blue is how I found out about Janelle Monae, another black artist who uses character and costume to great effect. Gets a pretty different reception, here and elsewhere.)
posted by rtha at 6:30 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


nicki is amazing. if you think she sounds like everyone else you haven't listened to her very much. yes, she writes huge popular pop hits, but that is hardly the scope and breadth of her career. as to her sounding like iggy? no. iggy sounds like her because iggy puts on a fake accent (which has gotten her a lot of blowback and accusations of doing a minstrel show).

i find nicki to be hugely inspiring.
posted by nadawi at 6:35 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


I don't know much about rap but Iggy Azalea sounds pretty similar to me.

Possibly the most unintentionally hilarious thing I've read this week.
posted by kmz at 6:39 AM on July 30 [40 favorites]


A good starting point for Nicki's lyrical prowess is her verse on Monster from Kanye's Twisted Fantasy album. It is a fierce display of code-switching bravado.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:40 AM on July 30 [20 favorites]


Ye gods, the fretting in this thread is making me seriously rethink posting an FPP about Brooke Candy. Pussy make the rules, indeed.

Nicki Minaj is amazing! I had no idea this was even up for debate. And while I can't explore very many of these assuredly delightful links until I get home from work, I can attest that Pills N Potions has been my #1 jam since the moment I heard it. Just stellar.
posted by divined by radio at 6:43 AM on July 30 [8 favorites]


Her music isn't really something I'd listen to by choice, but if it's on the radio or something I don't complain. Don't know her stuff, consequently, in an in-depth way but from what I've heard I really, really like how very few fucks she gives.

The bit someone said above about her creating herself in the box society has put her in seems spot on. "This is what you want me to be? Okay. Now fuck you."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:47 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


Nicki Minaj is certainly unique. To compare her to Iggy is to not have a clue as to what is going on in popular culture, which is fine, but the conversation ends there.

The Nicki as phallus is brilliant. I can't see how it isn't intentional, doubly so with the title of the album. She is going to penetrate you.

I'm going to download it ASAP.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:49 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


Possibly the most unintentionally hilarious thing I've read this week.


Why?
posted by colie at 6:49 AM on July 30


i was just going to mention her verse on monster. until "lookin' ass" came out it was my favorite verse of hers. it also drives home that she didn't have the typical pop star comeup - she's more like kanye, she worked for a lot of people, writing, lending verses, etc, before she had dropped her own material.
posted by nadawi at 6:53 AM on July 30 [6 favorites]


because iggy doesn't sound like iggy. it's like saying george bush really sounds like dana carvey.
posted by nadawi at 6:53 AM on July 30 [10 favorites]


If it's such an ordinary, seen-it-everyday image, such a boring trope, then why are so many people wigging out about it.

I'm not sure what you're getting at. One article, and a few people after that, claimed that the disdainful side-eye was unexpected and somehow subversive of the pin-up/porn/stripper/etc. universe. However, others are confirming that there is exactly nothing new about that facial expression. Indeed, that facial expression is thoroughly standard within those contexts. The writer seems unfamiliar with the tropes that Minaj is playing with, whether seriously or ironically or both or neither. One might as well claim that it would be unexpected for a pin-up model to wear a G-string. It's silly.

I have zero problems with Nicki Minaj (love her bit in "Monster"). I have no useful input as to any other subversive qualities that that album cover may possess. But, that Lacanian analysis was bizarrely wrong with regard to the side-eye.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:55 AM on July 30 [9 favorites]


Possibly the most unintentionally hilarious thing I've read this week.


Why?


Because it's like talking about how you think Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan sound exactly the same. Past the most basic, superficial similarities (they're both women who rap!!!) it's so wrong as to be mind boggling.
posted by Itaxpica at 6:55 AM on July 30 [8 favorites]


'bored disdain' stripper eyeball

There are at least one or two metafilter user names in here some where. If you're looking to join and need a unique user name for this site, enjoy.
posted by Fizz at 6:57 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


nadawi said "iggy sounds like her because iggy puts on a fake accent".

?

There's no such thing as authenticity in pop music, and that's fine, as the Rolling Stones covering Leadbelly songs showed.

Minaj went to stage school and would possibly agree...
posted by colie at 6:57 AM on July 30


I don't really buy into the idea that there are actually "good" or "bad" artists. Tastes are subjective. Better just to say "a lot of people like Nicki". Personally, I don't like her, but that's no reflection on her, or me, any more than liking or disliking pickles or tomatoes or whatever. But despite not really liking her, I am impressed by her range. She does quite a few really different genres.
posted by Bugbread at 6:57 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


man, this isn't a thread about iggy, but it's not just lack of authenticity that gets people up in arms about her (personally, i think she's kind of odious and maybe a tad racist, but i like "work" and think "fancy" was a smart pop hit) - it's that she's a white artist who is effectively putting on black face through her voice and to some it comes off as mocking rap culture (while others think she's deeply invested and complimentary of it). to compare her and nicki you have to realize that she's purposefully trying to sound like dirty south rappers and emulating things about nicki. beyond that, they also aren't very similar despite all of iggy's effort.

(goddamn do i miss ad hominem in these threads)
posted by nadawi at 7:03 AM on July 30 [13 favorites]


Hmm...In the Pajiba article, Minaj says "Number one in five motherfucking countries, nigga. Don’t play with me. You better respect my motherfucking gangsta, bitch. When you got an album that goes number one in Japan, the U.K., Australia, America at the same motherfucking time then you can speak my motherfucking name", but that can't be right. She's a non-presence here in Japan. Rihanna or something, sure, but Nicki Minaj having a number one album in Japan? Even the Japanese Wikipedia page mentions all of her Billboard rankings but doesn't say a single thing about Oricon or Usen or even iTunes Japan.

Dunno if her publicist is feeding her bad info or if she's pulling one of those "nobody will know any better" things.
posted by Bugbread at 7:07 AM on July 30


It's also a bit funny that the Parental Advisory thing started because of Gore's daughter making the link between Darling Nikki and masturbation.

So, she listened to the lyrics? Because there's no symbolism, Prince flat-out says that's what she's doing in the actual song.

(I had not actually heard this story about Gore's daughter, but it's both hilarious and sad)
posted by emjaybee at 7:08 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Oops, I take that back. Apparently number one on the iTunes Japan Album chart in 2012.
posted by Bugbread at 7:15 AM on July 30


She did, and as analyzed better above than I can it's a very knowing and deliberate image and she's right that the reason it's getting any pushback and controversy is because of her race and agency.

To clarify, I was really only referring to the exposure/"omg how shocking!" component of the pose that some critics have responded to. I definitely agree that the fact that Minaj chose to use her own body for her cover art is really the reason why she's getting pushback/criticism...and what makes the cover art all that more awesome, in my opinion.

(I was rushing out the door to head to work when I commented and didn't explain fully; my bad!)
posted by skye.dancer at 7:16 AM on July 30


There's no such thing as authenticity in pop music, and that's fine, as the Rolling Stones covering Leadbelly songs showed.

Indeed, white people have been appropriating black music for a long ass time.
posted by kmz at 7:17 AM on July 30 [15 favorites]


the image on this page seems to be broken, but does suggest she charted well in japan, including a #1 album for at least a week. wiki doesn't seem to reflect that, but googling minaj and itunes japan returns a lot of results for roman reloaded charting there. it also says that album went gold in japan.
posted by nadawi at 7:17 AM on July 30



'Last, why is it that spewing a stream of four letter words is considered a good example for anyone to take on, or model?'

You know, I don't see every artist or athlete or celebrity/person of note as a "role model". Where does the insistence come from that everyone in the public eye has to be a damn role model? She's not out there promoting herself as someone to emulate, so why are you denigrating her for not being something she doesn't want to be?
posted by palomar at 6:10 AM on July 30 [2 favorites +] [!]


The Racialicious article in the FPP talks about her being 'a model for female empowerment', and about her being a role model. We're responding to that, not to anything Minaj has or hasn't said.
posted by Salamander at 7:17 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


i think she's an awesome role model, and always really kind to her young fans, seemingly very aware of the tightrope she's walking between the more adult parts of her career and the young girls who love her. it's bizarre to me in 2014 her cussing is being held up as a reason to think she's a bad example. a woman saying fuck doesn't remove all the other shit she's doing.
posted by nadawi at 7:21 AM on July 30 [20 favorites]


Seriously, saying she's a bad role model for swearing is coming awfully close to complaining she's not ladylike, which I hope is self-evidently problematic. Not saying that's what was being said there, but it reads that way.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:24 AM on July 30 [30 favorites]


She's a terrible role model, but almost all popular musicians are terrible role models. She's not any worse than the average, as far as I know. I mean, it's not like we're talking about Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber or anything.
posted by Bugbread at 7:26 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I thought the memes (only a few of which have been posted) were funnier and better than the cover. I liked her early stuff (before she got popular, back when she was beefing with somebody who I think maybe an also-ran by now), and then couldn't stand her work when she first got really big.

Then the Monster verse impressed me again, and that's been largely it. Though that verse was arguably top 25 in the history of rap, so if she never rapped again, she'd always have that. Everything else since then has been a one-listen for me. I like that she's engaging and thinking about what she puts out, how it's received, and checking people for hypocrisies. I'm not her fan, but I like that she has her moments.
posted by cashman at 7:28 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


I feel like a far as hidden phallic imagery goes, this is more like squinting at a magic eye stereoscopic image to maybe see a 3d dolphin

This thread feels a lot like a friend telling me, "Dude, that cloud totally looks like a dick!"

I'm not sure what you're getting at. One article, and a few people after that, claimed that the disdainful side-eye was unexpected and somehow subversive of the pin-up/porn/stripper/etc. universe. However, others are confirming that there is exactly nothing new about that facial expression. Indeed, that facial expression is thoroughly standard within those contexts. The writer seems unfamiliar with the tropes that Minaj is playing with, whether seriously or ironically or both or neither. One might as well claim that it would be unexpected for a pin-up model to wear a G-string. It's silly.

Exactly. There is nothing at all surprising or interesting about the picture. It's bizarre to see people here calling it subversive or saying it explodes standard portrayals of sexiness and extolling her wearing sneakers and a sports bra when you could see the same in any car magazine.

I feel like if people really believe this, that this image is unique or transgressive, conversation is impossible because it just isn't.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:29 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


The Racialicious article in the FPP talks about her being 'a model for female empowerment', and about her being a role model. We're responding to that, not to anything Minaj has or hasn't said.

So she's being denigrated in this thread for a role that someone else has assigned to her... and that someone else is motivated by page-views.

Right. Bad role model. Uh-huh.
posted by palomar at 7:30 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


This thread feels a lot like a friend telling me, "Dude, that cloud totally looks like a dick!"

Only if it's a picture of a cloud, with the title "PENIS" directly and immediately above it.
posted by ominous_paws at 7:32 AM on July 30 [6 favorites]


Hmm...In the Pajiba article, Minaj says "Number one in five motherfucking countries, nigga. Don’t play with me. You better respect my motherfucking gangsta, bitch. When you got an album that goes number one in Japan, the U.K., Australia, America at the same motherfucking time then you can speak my motherfucking name", but that can't be right. She's a non-presence here in Japan. Rihanna or something, sure, but Nicki Minaj having a number one album in Japan?

Next thing you're gonna tell me is that Glenn Danzig never cut the heads off little girls and put them on his wall!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:36 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Palomar, we are disagreeing with the views espoused in an article that is linked to, and extensively quoted, in this FPP. I do not understand why you have a problem with this.
posted by Salamander at 7:36 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Nicki's glam rock influence was one of the things that grabbed me and made me listen to her a little more closely. Thinking about how the choruses of "Roman Holiday" and "I Am Your Leader" sound like something from an early Sparks album or Bowie's lighter moments is interesting to consider in light of her hypersexualized, drag queen-like gender performance* and the different personae she takes on in her songs. I wish I was a better writer or had a stronger handle on camp and drag to be able to talk about these parallels with greater authority, but it's great to see that this extends into the music the way it does.

* = In describing her femininity as "drag queen-like" I'm not trying to describe her as mannish or call her femininity into question. Her onstage persona has a larger-than-life quality you frequently see in drag shows and old movies. Just wanted to make that clear.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:38 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


I feel like if people really believe this, that this image is unique or transgressive, conversation is impossible because it just isn't.

Since it is the case that nearly every possible type of picture has already been taken, it would be trivial to use 'any picture taken ever' as the range of pictures when comparing the album cover. So, we must compare this picture, with other pictures, in a similar context. With that standard, is there anything comparable?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:44 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Salamander, I see people in this thread taking Minaj to task for being a terrible role model because she's vulgar, including you. That's all I have a problem with. And I'm not the only person in the thread who has expressed a sentiment like this. Maybe you need to not take it personally.
posted by palomar at 7:45 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


in other words,

"PFFT, I totes saw that same Duchamp piece when I was taking a leak. No biggie.'
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:45 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


Everyone needs to watch that bossed up rant, because that's unfiltered realtalk right there.

Repeating naju's comment for emphasis. The video is SFW and even the curses are bleeped out. Take a moment to watch it. I am totally okay with this woman being a role model.
posted by misskaz at 7:47 AM on July 30 [7 favorites]


With that standard, is there anything comparable?

I'm not sure what you're asking.

Are you asking about album covers, or images of female sexuality in general?

Because I was more speaking toward the latter, responding to comments above like:

"And I don't think that's it. I think that it's not sexy, at least not in the ways that we usually expect women and sexuality to be portrayed. That's why people are finding it uncomfortable. She doesn't look like a vulnerable waif."
MeghanC
or

MeghanC: That bra she's wearing isn't an impress-your-date bra--it's a sports bra. Those shoes she's wearing aren't five-inch heels--they're sneakers. Yes!

I love that she's wearing about as much as a lad's mag cover, but because she's so central and dramatic in the image - and because it's her alone, with agency implied by the cool considering expression on her face and her body pushing back in a position that looks sort of sexual, yet because of the sports bra/sneakers, sorta athletic at the same time, the image crosses out of the expected "sexy for the male gaze" to something much more interesting and confrontational.

viggorlijah

These comments are just factually wrong.

The way she's posed, what she's wearing, you'll find these in any "lad mag" or magazine geared toward men, especially the "urban" car magazines and the like. The idea that "vulnerable waif" is the only or even most common way women's sexuality is portrayed in the media just isn't right. As Sticherbeast says, "One might as well claim that it would be unexpected for a pin-up model to wear a G-string."

It's not that I once saw a picture like this somewhere, it's that I see it everywhere women are depicted in a "sexy" manner, so it's surprising that people are extolling it as breaking boundaries. It just makes me think the people saying those things aren't very familiar with what they're talking about.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:54 AM on July 30 [12 favorites]


Oh jeez. I'm not taking it personally, Palomar; in fact, I'm not remotely invested in Nikki Minaj's role model status one way or another. I was just trying to clear up a misconception: you said she wasn't setting herself up as a role model; I conceded that nobody said she was. Let's drop it.
posted by Salamander at 7:55 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


She already has one of the biggest selling singles of all time, a song that surely was mainly purchased by pre-teens (did anyone here purchase 'Starships'?

I actually did, but I needed it as part of a playlist for something. I thought it was cute.

I would personally like to live in a world where "display your body in a submissive and feminine way to sell records while engaging in lots of body maintenance/body homework/etc" and "display your body in a novel transgressive "fuck you" way to sell records while engaging in lots of body maintenance/body homework" were not the two options most available to women. I would also like to live in a world where a woman performer could be, like, as sexual as Nicki Minaj while also being, maybe, old or not thin or nonstandard in some other way.

I mean, I think she's hilarious and obviously a smart person, nothing against her particular work or this particular work.
posted by Frowner at 7:56 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Are people seriously getting up in arms about swear words? In this, the 2014th year after the birth of Jesus Fucking Christ? I mean, we're not talking about slurs, we're talking about good ol' fashioned vulgarity. Fucking hell.
posted by kmz at 7:58 AM on July 30 [15 favorites]


I'm not that familiar with Minaj's music beyond Starships (I liked it; I bought it; it's on my exercise playlist), but that Pills N Potions song linked upthread is good. That bossed up rant was all over tumblr in gif form, though, and I've always had a soft spot for her because of it.

The debate over the cover is fascinating to me because she's clearly alluding to the stereotypes of the lad-mag photoshoot, but the idea that she's repurposing that for her own uses is clearly alien to some people. Also the idea that there's a difference between a fuck-you face and a fuck-me face.
posted by immlass at 8:00 AM on July 30 [11 favorites]


These comments are just factually wrong.

Odd, because those comments don't assert any facts.

Like I said abstractly, saying Minaj doesn't push boundaries because pictures like her album cover can be found in 'lad' magazines (not sure exactly what they are but I sure don't read them) misses the point--she's pushing boundaries because she's displaying herself that's outside the norm for pop stars.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:06 AM on July 30


Apologies if this has been linked in the thread already and I missed it, but this article from The Hairpin last year is a fantastic intro to Nicki Minaj and why she matters. Also please see her amazing turning from dead eyed sex-face to sneer action. She knows exactly what she is doing.
posted by almostmanda at 8:17 AM on July 30 [13 favorites]


Odd, because those comments don't assert any facts.

They assert that this image contravenes common depictions of female sexuality media and is unlike what you'd find elsewhere. This is wrong.

'lad' magazines (not sure exactly what they are but I sure don't read them)

In the US I think we call them "men's magazines": Maxim, FHM, etc.

she's pushing boundaries because she's displaying herself that's outside the norm for pop stars.

Female pop stars are portrayed in sexy poses and revealing outfits all the time. They've been getting shit for it for decades. Again, what boundary is being pushed?

This just seems like the latest iteration of people clucking their tongues over a "scandalous" album image. Minaj is hot right now so it gets talked about.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:18 AM on July 30 [6 favorites]


A bit tangential to this discussion, but I think Nicki is absolutely a role model. She vocally encourages her fans to stay in school and work hard at their education, to the point where her fans will send her pictures of their diplomas and report cards.
posted by brookedel at 8:19 AM on July 30 [17 favorites]


I don't know much about Nicki Minaj, and don't have anything to say about her album cover, but if you have 35 minutes, listen to this excellent Radiolab podcast about who is "allowed" to talk about hip-hop. Specifically, the story is about white hip-hop DJ Peter Rosenberg and whether he has any right to talk about what is and is not "authentic" in hip-hop. A large part of the story is about Rosenberg's public feud with Nicki Minaj, centered around the fact that he thought she was an exciting new voice in hip-hop who "sold out" by releasing "Starships". It's a fascinating story that raises more questions about music and race than it answers.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 8:19 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


How's she 'repurposing' anything or 'pushing boundaries'? Madonna's 'Sex' book was released over 20 years ago; what's the difference?
posted by Salamander at 8:21 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


Female pop stars are portrayed in sexy poses and revealing outfits all the time.

Are there any female pop stars portrayed in sexy poses with sports bras and sneakers? Can you point to those things?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:23 AM on July 30


Madonna's 'Sex' book was released over 20 years ago; what's the difference?

Madonna is white; Minaj is black. I would argue that in pop music it's easy to say that white female artists (no matter their genre) get flack for gaining weight or not being thin enough; female black artists get flack for being too sexual or slutty.
posted by Kitteh at 8:25 AM on July 30 [10 favorites]


*picks up phone, dials 1-900-MIX-ALOT*

"Yeah, your anaconda's gonna want to check this out..."
posted by furtive at 8:27 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


I feel like if people really believe this, that this image is unique or transgressive, conversation is impossible because it just isn't.

Your subjective interpretation is correct, but everyone else's is wrong?

The comments here, and some of the links, reflect a weird (to me) mix of "This is so DONE and boring" and "Outrageous with the swearing and butt!" and I guess I'm not getting how people are so invested in explaining how boring and outrageous this is.
posted by rtha at 8:28 AM on July 30 [7 favorites]


Oh, Madonna has gotten plenty of flak for being 'slutty'.
posted by Salamander at 8:29 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


How's she 'repurposing' anything or 'pushing boundaries'? Madonna's 'Sex' book was released over 20 years ago; what's the difference?

There is no difference, because the world hasn't changed enough for a woman to choose to represent herself sexually to not be inherently political and divisive. You may yawn and say so what, but obviously there are a lot of people who take as much issue with this as they did with Mae West writing and producing "Sex" on stage.

There is no difference, because women's bodies, and black women's bodies in particular, are still seen as objects to be appraised, posed, commented on, dismissed or acquired, and as mechanisms of commerce.

If you think there is nothing revolutionary about Minaj choosing to pose that way, in that outfit, with that look on her face, it's not because you're right and the album cover is inconsequential. The way women choose to represent themselves is always going to be political.
posted by maxsparber at 8:33 AM on July 30 [17 favorites]


Yeah, years ago. Her previous sexual persona is not germane to the current discussion. Madge hasn't been deemed "slutty" in forever.

I guess I'm more surprised at people being offended/outraged at what black pop female stars cultivate as their image. It's like even if they keep giving you rock-solid proof (like a previous discussion about Beyonce on the Blue not too long ago) that they know what they're doing, what control they have over their own persona, what message they're sending, somehow it's still "slutty" or "sexual." I think it comes from America having a problem with black women owning that sexuality, which is just awful.
posted by Kitteh at 8:35 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


female black artists get flack for being too sexual or slutty

...but Madonna got all sorts of shit for being "slutty". So did Briney Spears in her schoolgirl/Slave 4 U period, so Christina Aguilera in her Xtina phase, so did...

I'd say it would be hard to find a female pop star from the last 30 years, white or black, that wasn't criticized for dressing or acting too "sexy".

Are there any female pop stars portrayed in sexy poses with sports bras and sneakers? Can you point to those things?

Are there any female pop stars named Niki Minaj posing in a pink sports bra and blue sneakers for an album called Anaconda? Eventually you'll get specific enough that the only answer is this album, sure.

The point isn't the sneakers, it's that sexy album covers have been around forever. This sort of look and dress has been around forever, and it's weird that people are saying otherwise. The specific items of clothing she's wearing may not be literally the same as other sexualized covers of other female pop stars, but fighting the point on that is being a pointless pedant.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:35 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


And maxsparber said a lot of it better than I did!
posted by Kitteh at 8:35 AM on July 30


but fighting the point on that is being a pointless pedant

physician, heal thyself.
posted by nadawi at 8:38 AM on July 30 [6 favorites]


I just wish the KLF would reform and put out a single with her.
posted by the bricabrac man at 8:39 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


This is wrong.

After a few minutes of image searching for mens magazine images, I think you're wrong. I'm not seeing sports bras and sneakers. A butt-displaying squatting pose like this one is common enough, but focusing solely on the similarities between previous sexual images and specifically this image that Nicki Minaj used for her record cover really misses the point. Yes, this is a sexual image, and sexual images have existed before this one. That doesn't mean that Minaj's album isn't pushing a boundary by the mere existence of something like a car magazine or a nudie photo book of Madonna, two things that are not album covers.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:40 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


Nthing the bossed up rant.
posted by rtha at 8:41 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


re there any female pop stars portrayed in sexy poses with sports bras and sneakers? Can you point to those things?

Are there any female pop stars named Niki Minaj posing in a pink sports bra and blue sneakers for an album called Anaconda?


So you don't have a counterexample I take it? People are saying that this picture pushes boundaries for various reasons, one of those is how she is dressed. You're saying its not boundary pushing and is actually commonplace.

You seem to be fundamentally misunderstanding everyone's claims if you think that Minaj wearing a sports bra and sneakers is incidental to their claim that this pushes boundaries.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:41 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


My knowledge of Nicki Minaj prior to this FPP amounted to an understanding that she was one of a few dozen pop culture names that I knew were somehow a thing but had absolutely no context in which to place them because I am not cool enough for most of pop culture.

Having read this thread and the linked articles, holy fuck. I now want to know everything about her. And I absolutely want her to be a role model, for me as a grown ass woman and also for a lot of young girls who might otherwise be looking up to some decidedly not "bossed up" ladies, because I'd much rather have my hypothetical daughter be a girl who swears and provokes and has a loud, strong, smart fucking voice than a girl who speaks how she is expected to (i.e. not at all) and doesn't complain or get angry.

My initial impression of Minaj is that she is a total beast, in the best possible way. More, please.
posted by Dorinda at 8:43 AM on July 30 [16 favorites]


When I was more of a lad (age-wise and maturity-wise), I read some of those lad magazines and I don't recall very many photos of the Hot Pop Star or Hot Young Actress of The Moment posing the way Nicki Minaj is posing on that album cover.

I can recall quite a few that featured the young woman in question posing on beds with "come hither" looks -- but almost always lying on their backs or sides, and therefore, arguably not as in control as a woman in the position Nicki Minaj is in -- or supposedly going about everyday tasks while wearing impractical lingerie and high heels. And I can remember more than a few where the woman in question had a surprised/vulnerable look on her face like "Oh my gosh! I can't believe you [the lads holding the magazine] just happened to see me in this state of near undress!"

I think the comment that suggests you can find this pose in the car mags (though I think there's a lot to unpack in adding the urban modifier and putting it in quotes) is a bit more spot on -- a lot of those lad magazines are trying to walk a tightrope of making the women they feature appear sexually available but not *too* sexual, so you'd rarely see the pop star or young actress posing in the manner Minaj is in.

I think this has echoes of the burlesque/stripping issue: when upper middle class white women do it, it's called burlesque and there's tons of praise for how empowering and daring it is; when black women, poorer white women, and Latina women do it, it's called stripping and, at best, it's decried as cheap and inartful or at worst seen as impure and wrong.

In the Beyonce thread, the always excellent elizardbits introduced me to a term that encompasses the burlesque/stripping dichotomy and also encompases the icky feeling I get when people feel the need to disparage what is essentially a non-standard mode of female sexuality and femininity exhibited by the likes of Bey, Minaj, Grace Jones, Serena Williams and many others: misogynoir.
posted by lord_wolf at 8:45 AM on July 30 [23 favorites]


I don't know much about rap but Iggy Azalea sounds pretty similar to me.

I'll just mentally change that "but" to an "and."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:45 AM on July 30 [16 favorites]


I just wish the KLF would reform and put out a single with her.

I just hope that someone, somewhere shelves this next to Turbonegro's Ass Cobra.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:45 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


To compare her to Iggy is to not have a clue as to what is going on in popular culture, which is fine, but the conversation ends there.

My daughter listens to the radio and liked 'Starships' a couple of years ago and the Justin Bieber collaboration that Minaj did. Then she liked 'Fancy' by Azalea and now it's 'Problem' by Ariana Grande.

All four records are pretty similar, and in fact 3 of the 4 were written and produced by Max Martin or his extended Swedish team (the people behind Britney and N-SYNC's songs, and many others).

In fact I suspect Minaj was first lined up to the do the rapping bits on 'Problem' like she did on Bieber's record, before Azalea got drafted in because she was blowing up big, or for whatever reason. I really had no idea Minaj, ex of stage school and a Bieber/Max Martin collaborator, had some kind of 'cool' status. In fact Azalea's record 'Fancy' was not written by Max Martin's team but by Charli XCX, another teenager who has not done the stage school route.

I can imagine that all these artists would respect each other if they met in person, and possibly be amused to find earnest discussions of how authentic they are to popular culture among people like me who don't even buy their music...
posted by colie at 8:46 AM on July 30


Only if it's a picture of a cloud, with the title "PENIS" directly and immediately above it.


Ceci n'est pas une pipe.

🍌
Ceci non plus.
posted by yoink at 8:47 AM on July 30


minaj has done a lot more than starships - to use that as her entire career is really weird. you can imagine all you want about iggy and nicki, but pretty much everyone who knows anything about current urban music is pretty sure that nicki minaj shaded iggy hard at the bet awards. really, you're just showing how little you know about what you're talking about.
posted by nadawi at 8:50 AM on July 30 [12 favorites]


Starships and Beaty and a Beat with Bieber are her biggest hits, and the ones that got a lot of radio play in the UK. Seems natural to discuss them.
posted by colie at 8:56 AM on July 30


First time I heard Nicki Minaj, it reminded me of driving down Cross Bay Blvd for some reason. Then I looked on wikipedia: "She and her mother later moved to the Queens borough of New York City."

YUP.

also, the first time I heard 'Fancy' I thought it sounded like Gwen Stefani.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:05 AM on July 30


Yeah, years ago. Her previous sexual persona is not germane to the current discussion. Madge hasn't been deemed "slutty" in forever.

That's exactly my point: it was years ago. It's germane because a female singer adopting that 'sexual persona' was deemed 'slutty' in 1992, and there have been 20+ years since for things to move on. Which 'boundaries' are still left in 2014 that Minaj is busting through? The boundary of 'not wearing sports gear whilst posing provocatively'? I don't think that's a thing.
posted by Salamander at 9:07 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


you don't seem to be actually interested in hearing why they aren't similar, and how the places where they are similar are the subject of long conversations about appropriation and imitation. you might as well be saying that nicki sounds like maroon 5 because popular music of an era that goes to #1 tends to sound kind of same-y. that's a pretty different argument than nicki sounds like iggy. because of the conversations that are centered on nicki and iggy the comparison is especially laughable (and maybe offensive) to people who actually know the genre in question beyond overhearing things on the radio.
posted by nadawi at 9:08 AM on July 30 [6 favorites]


there have been 20+ years since for things to move on

They haven't.


the boundary of 'not wearing sports gear whilst posing provocatively'? I don't think that's a thing.


It is. Female pop stars have certain expectations and boundaries of what they can/should do when acting sexy. Wearing sneakers, a sports bra, and an expression of empowerment are defying those expectations.

You can claim otherwise but if you're going to convince anyone some evidence would help.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:11 AM on July 30 [7 favorites]


you don't seem to be actually interested in hearing why they aren't similar,

The very first thing I wrote in this thread was:

Can anyone shed any light on whether she is a talented musician, and if so, what is it that she's bringing?

I only know her from 'Starships', which is pretty much a standard slice of Max Martin-school Swedish pop.


I've also done some research with my ears and eyes to find out who wrote some of her most popular songs. You are just putting me down, for no real reason, with appeals to authority. Back off a little please.

Rap music is not a secret code, it's just another form of pop music.
posted by colie at 9:12 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


The Madonna/Minaj comparison is interesting. Because, when Madonna was putting out the "Sex" book and "Justify My Love" and stuff (and even before), there were generally three viewpoints (overly simplified here): (1) Madonna is a slut, (2) Madonna is buying into male standards of what is sexy, and is therefore anti-feminist, and (3) Madonna is taking control of her own sexuality and is doing it for herself rather than for any man, and is therefore feminist.

Isn't that the same conversation going on about this Nicki Minaj cover? Yes, the fact that she's a black woman, and black women historically aren't allowed to control their own sexuality, is something that didn't apply to Madonna. But didn't we just have this conversation about Beyonce? For that matter, didn't we have that conversation about Josephine Baker 80 years ago?

Not to take anything away from Minaj, who clearly appears to be a unique voice in hip-hop. But there seems to be a bit of "everything old is new again" to this story.

[And no, I don't think the sneakers and sports bra changes anything. It's just another way of saying that she's in control of her sexuality and isn't doing it for you. See #3 above.]

[Actually, would it change anyone's opinion about this cover if neither the pose nor the outfit was Minaj's idea? Just curious.]
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 9:17 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


When I was more of a lad (age-wise and maturity-wise), I read some of those lad magazines and I don't recall very many photos of the Hot Pop Star or Hot Young Actress of The Moment posing the way Nicki Minaj is posing on that album cover.

That kind of assalicious pose is much more common in cover/poster art for dancehall music (which she clearly is aware of and borrows from). It's wildly not a Thing in magazines like Maxim. Searching is a pain on my phone but examples from dancehall of both exploitative and self-aware photos should be easy to find.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:17 AM on July 30


Can anyone shed any light on whether she is a talented musician, and if so, what is it that she's bringing?

...

Rap music is not a secret code, it's just another form of pop music.

Maybe it's not fair that there is a certain expectation that somebody actually be familiar with a subject before they pontificate on it, but this combination of happily proclaiming your ignorance of a subject while simultaneously insisting expertise is a little baffling.
posted by maxsparber at 9:19 AM on July 30 [20 favorites]


Not to take anything away from Minaj, who clearly appears to be a unique voice in hip-hop. But there seems to be a bit of "everything old is new again" to this story.

It is depressing when you think about how the boundaries she's transgressing (or not, depending on one's viewpoint) are still there to be transgressed. As she points out in the bossed up video, the choices are still madonna or whore.
posted by rtha at 9:21 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


It is depressing when you think about how the boundaries she's transgressing (or not, depending on one's viewpoint) are still there to be transgressed. As she points out in the bossed up video, the choices are still madonna or whore.

For the record, I'm not suggesting that she's not transgressing boundaries (I believe that she is). My point was just that she's not the first to do so.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 9:24 AM on July 30


Came to tell people to listen to that Radiolab episode, but I was beaten to it.

Minaj is undoubtedly talented and driven, but TBH - I'm tired of listening to the oneupmanship that surrounds her music. I get it. You hate her because she's EDM. Oh wait - no, you like her because she's secretly old skool hip-hop. But you hate her because she's not the right kind of hip-hop. But you love her because she's redefining something. But you hate her because that's so last month and besides you like this new band no-one ever heard of. But you love her because, blah, blah, blah.

Love-her-or-hate-her-turtles-all-the-way-down-hipsterism.

It's bullshit.

She makes alright music. She works hard. I wish she didn't drop the n-bomb so much, but I like that her music is growing up at roughly the same rate as the youngest daughter.
posted by zoo at 9:25 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


simultaneously insisting expertise is a little baffling

Well, everyone has an opinion on pop music, and I also happen to be a musician with an interest in pop. Really, I'd have thought this thread could accommodate the questions and views of someone who doesn't quite understand what the fuss is about based on what they hear on the radio (althoug I've been mocked for 'overhearing' songs on the radio upthread!).

I'm out. Love to all.

x
posted by colie at 9:25 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


By the way, a lot of rap music is a secret code.
posted by cashman at 9:27 AM on July 30 [25 favorites]


Yeah, it's no accident that rapgenius.com came before *.genius.com.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:28 AM on July 30


Starships and Beaty and a Beat with Bieber are her biggest hits, and the ones that got a lot of radio play in the UK. Seems natural to discuss them.

Huh? I'm really not understanding the relevance of pointing out which Nicki Minaj singles are the most popular in the UK, other than the fact that you happen to live there. Last time I checked, she was still an American artist whose popularity, like that of most recording artists, is largely focused in her country of origin. You appear to have no idea what a massive superstar she is over here, so your laserlike focus on minimizing her talent and accomplishments from afar is kind of weird. She's certainly not alone as an artist who has performed songs that were partially or wholly written by other people, so what's your point? You've already admittedly that you're hardly a scholar of the type of music she performs, so it's not clear to me what's making her immense popularity stick in your craw just so.

Just for kicks, here's a giant list of all of Nicki Minaj's charting singles -- you'll note that her track with Justin Bieber only made it to #16 on the UK charts, while her track with Alicia Keyes hit #5, and her track with David Guetta and Flo Rida climbed all the way up to #3. So even if you're focusing exclusively on how popular she is in the United Kingdom specifically, it's a bit unseemly to try to reduce the impact or popularity of her body of work to the pair of songs you've personally decided represent the bulk and heft of her creative output. Coming into a thread about a particular artist to repeatedly ask what the big deal is about them while simultaneously lambasting them for having nothing to offer you, personally, is not generally a recipe for success here.
posted by divined by radio at 9:29 AM on July 30 [12 favorites]


Despite the ubiquity of "Starships," I believe "Super Bass" was her most successful single.
posted by brookedel at 9:37 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


If I had to name the mainstream rapper that reminds me the most of Nikki Minaj, in terms of creative style and flow, I would actually probably say Eminem.
posted by threeants at 9:39 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


It is. Female pop stars have certain expectations and boundaries of what they can/should do when acting sexy. Wearing sneakers, a sports bra, and an expression of empowerment are defying those expectations.

What expectations? I mean, seriously - I can produce any number of album covers of female artists posing sexily in new ways, but I don't think it proves that each of them is breaking through a new boundary each time. Just that anything goes, really. Which is fine.

But for argument's sake, Grace Jones' 'Island Life' came out in 1995. She's posing like an athlete, wearing very little but some athletic-band type things, and her expression looks pretty 'empowered' to me. And she's a black female artist. Breaking through boundaries implies being the first to do something forbidden, and I still don't see how Minaj is. It's been decades since there was a single 'model' for female sexiness on album covers, or in any other visual media.

Look, I'm not remotely anti-Minaj; I don't have much of an opinion on her one way or another. I just think the reactions to that cover, especially in the Rapalicious article, are a bit Emperor's New Clothes-ish. She's capitalising on her ass because she knows it'll get attention for her album - and she was right. Good for her.
posted by Salamander at 9:43 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


I'm not at all sure of the significance of whole sports bra and sneakers thing, so I can't tell what is and isn't relevant, but when Britney Spears wasn't dressed like a schoolgirl in the ...Baby One More Time video, she was in a sports bra, sneakers and sweatpants. (It was also a thing when she wore a $20,000 sports bra in some ad in 2012.) Miley Cyrus wore a sports bra, huge sneakers and leggings in the video for We Can't Stop and bragged about it in Harper's Bazaar: "I feel like every girl is trying to have a beauty shot and prove that they're 'fashion.' But I can be in white leggings and a white sports bra and I'm on a whole other level of shit that those girls don't even get yet because they don't know how to do it." She's also worn sports bras in Terry Richardson photos (as has Rita Ora) and, arguably, on the cover of V magazine. Katy Perry has been part of an Adidas campaign for which she posed in a sports bra, sweatpants, and sneakers. And of course, Aaliyah was the sports bra queen like 20 years ago.

Anyway, I can see how Nicki Minaj is groundbreaking and original and I can see how what she's doing has been done before. I don't get the need to see everyone submit to one point of view or the other. It's reminding me of four years ago when everybody was insisting that everybody else believe Lady Gaga was the revolution. Then a little time went by and everybody got used to her and she got a little boring and made a few mistakes and caught some flack and everything was basically the same as before. That's just what happens! I personally think Nicki Minaj is great, but I don't blame anyone for being sceptical that her ass is here to make a difference.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:56 AM on July 30 [8 favorites]


That Nicki Minaj photo is not in any way a subversive image. It's a deliberately tintillating, ass-in-your-face pose that's been done to death in porn, soft-porn, advertising and across several genres of music. It is generic, right down to the come-hither look over the shoulder. Those reading into it a 'disdainful side-eye' are being obtuse, possibly deliberately so to push an agenda of Niki Minaj being a feminist icon.

You only have to look at the image to see how her eyes are actually photographed to meet the viewer's gaze. Her hair is down and loose, such a time-honored signal of youthful vulnerability that it is practically a cliche. The sneakers and sports bra don't just signal athleticism, they are a common trope used to signal 'young girl' at the viewer, too. Don't believe me? Taz has forbidden anyone from linking images to make this case (which is, IMO, a bad decision), but if you were to search for porn featuring 'young' actresses (Their first time! Barely Eighteen! Sexy schoolgirls!--these are extremely popular themes) you would find the color pink, sneakersand 'fitness apparel' are often employed to add to the impression of youth.

In short, that cover is straight-up masturbatory fodder, right down to the glistening lip gloss wetting her lips.

I'm pretty disgusted that anyone might be seriously rationalizing that image in any other way. It makes me want to ask those of you doing so in this thread if you are just having a joke at our expense? Yanking all of our chains, maybe indulging in some strange performance art?

Otherwise, the level of hypocrisy and the deliberate lack of critical analysis required to insist such a standard, porn-derivative pose is in any way ground-breaking or subversive is off the charts.

I'm a sex-positive feminist, which is out of favor these days in some circles, especially on Metafilter, where the feminist stances lean more toward a general disdain for 'the male gaze'. In contrast, I have no problem with sexy pinups, whether they are intended for straight men, trans women, or any other flavor across the sexual spectrum. Whatever floats your boat, basically, is fine with me, because people are sexual beings and there's no shame (or there shouldn't be) in that. It's pretty silly, looking askance at kinks just because they aren't our own kinks.

Which doesn't mean I can't also shake my head at the way the gratuitous use of nudity and sexuality (like the unnecessary, distracting and even off-putting sexposition HBO throws into GofT just because they can) is seeping into every level of our society, right down to making young girls feel the need to 'be sexy' long before they are emotionally able to process their own sexuality.

So I am surprised anyone would sincerely believe, and argue, that the Nicki Minaj image is SFW. I doubt an employer would be fine with you displaying it, or that you doubt your coworkers might be made uncomfortable by it in a professional environment. We are not out to titillate or arouse anyone in the workplace. Being pro-sex does not mean being pro-sexual harassment.

And I am not going to twist myself up in knots to make Nicki Menaj's ass shot into some kind of feminist statement, because it clearly isn't that. That pose is deliberately designed to draw attention to her ample derrière, because she's smart enough to know that's her cash cow. She knows it, her lyrics show she knows it (and it's not like recognizing that makes her particularly incisive, it's patently obvious). Her spread-eagled, over the shoulder, glossed up, plumped up butt pose is catering to her ass lookin' fans, pure and simple.
posted by misha at 9:58 AM on July 30 [19 favorites]


The whole "Who does she sound like?" thing will always go south. You're either going to sound like an idiot who's naming the one other rapper you've heard of, or you're going to sound like you're a pretentious idiot with a hip-hop spoon stuffed up their arse.

Eminem is an acceptable comparison. Iggy Azaelia is too. Go for something slightly more esoteric if you want. If you want extra points, then show off your incomparable musical kudos by comparing her to Johnny Cash or Emerson Lake and Palmer & THEN justifying that comparison with a virtuoso exploration of every piece of music since 1924.

Go for it.
Of course she's like other artists. But she's not identical. And you can pick a point between those two poles and make it your own.
posted by zoo at 10:00 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


Breaking through boundaries implies being the first to do something forbidden, and I still don't see how Minaj is.

I don't think that implication is necessary to having something be about breaking boundaries. Being yet another in a long line of previous female artists to use such a sexual image as an album cover won't be "boundary breaking" as soon as it becomes the norm. Really, this album cover is a lot more sexualized that most current album covers for solo females. Not being first is irrelevant.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:03 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


i find the cover interesting for the way it repeats a constant theme of her music and artistry about her inherent dichotomies - she is pretty much always daring people to define her and then doing something to upend that definition. besides that, i just think it's a cool looking cover and i can't wait for the album.
posted by nadawi at 10:08 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


There are so many more female pop stars than there are female stars in the rap game, though. To make it as a successful female hip hop artist requires some weird twists and turns of strategy, and Nicki understands that, and that's part of why her stylebook contains such multitudes.

By creating those characters, she can write these intense lyrics and personas without the dude rappers around her feeling like they got shown up by a girl. Because she's cra-a-a-azy, get it? No need to take her seriously. Keep on checking out that T&A and convince yourself that her body is the only reason she's popular, while she's taking every opportunity to skewer you in lyrics. The Anaconda album cover absolutely fits into that methodology, with the duck/rabbit of her pose.

You can hear it her verses, too. In Bottoms Up, she switches from snarling attack mode over into polite girl voice for a while with "Excuse me, I'm sorry, I'm really such a lady," and then shifts back into staccato to take a few shots at the pressures of body image in culture. It's like phone voice; you put on whatever affect it takes to get what you need from a culture that only expects certain things from you.
posted by redsparkler at 10:14 AM on July 30 [17 favorites]


If you think this is completely indistinguishable from a Maxim or car mag photoshoot, then you're not evaluating from an art perspective. And you're not doing so because you don't think Minaj is worthy of being seen as an artist, so it's self-fulfilling. The side-eye is at you as the person who sees this image and is seeing her not as a smart provocateur but as "urban" sex worker. The entire image is aimed at tweaking you and it's a shame that you're missing it! But for real, the word that keeps coming to mind the more I look at the artwork is "iconic." It's no accident that it's inspired mashups. The stark minimalism, bright pops of color in the sneakers and sports bra, the seeming simplicity belied by that expression. It's subtle to some maybe, but that is not a porn disdain-fuck-me-pout - it's a look that seriously communicates volumes, especially if you know anything about her and listen to her lyrics, watch her videos, etc. beyond "Starships". It's a smart, funny cover that plays with porn tropes in an uncanny valley way, more uncomfortable-making than titillating, and we're not being delusional for pointing this out. And reminder again that the entirety of the lyrics of "Lookin Ass" are about all the many kinds of ass-gazing men she actively loathes and doesn't want anything to do with. It's not like we're decoding an enigmatic work here, it's pretty clear that she's provoking and trolling with her image, words and persona. She's like an Eminem or a Kanye, feeding off snap judgments and playing with them. It's postmodern trickster art by any measure. It's sad to me that people aren't engaging on a level beyond nudie mag putdowns but FWIW she certainly anticipates that viewpoint and it's not surprising.
posted by naju at 10:18 AM on July 30 [27 favorites]


Question is: If an album cover is subversive, but most people don't realize that and view it only as surface-level titillation, is the cover in fact subversive?
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 10:22 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


Grace Jones' 'Island Life' came out in 1995. She's posing like an athlete, wearing very little but some athletic-band type things, and her expression looks pretty 'empowered' to me. And she's a black female artist. Breaking through boundaries implies being the first to do something forbidden, and I still don't see how Minaj is.

I'm pretty sure Grace Jones was never a pop superstar. Female pop superstars are sexualized by default, and more to the point they are sexualized for the male gaze. Minaj is taking control of that image. You keep saying the same thing over and over again and not really engaging with what other people are telling you.

And I am not going to twist myself up in knots to make Nicki Menaj's ass shot into some kind of feminist statement, because it clearly isn't that.

You have an odd definition of 'clearly' because many self-identified feminists in this very thread are of the opinion that it very much is a feminist statement.

The side-eye is at you as the person who sees this image and is seeing her not as a smart provocateur but as "urban" sex worker. The entire image is aimed at tweaking you and it's a shame that you're missing it

*applause*

Question is: If an album cover is subversive, but most people don't realize that and view it only as surface-level titillation, is the cover in fact subversive?

Yes?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:23 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty disgusted that anyone might be seriously rationalizing that image in any other way. It makes me want to ask those of you doing so in this thread if you are just having a joke at our expense? Yanking all of our chains, maybe indulging in some strange performance art?

Good thing you resisted the urge to ask us if we are intentionally being full of shit.

Anyway, If it is sooooooooooooo ubiquitous, maybe point to another album cover that is similar in tone? Should take you like, 3 seconds, right?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:26 AM on July 30 [10 favorites]


It's not even the ubiquity (or lack of) that really matters, I think. It's the specificity of the context: this artist, with her history, who works in this genre, using this picture. Would you say that's accurate?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:29 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


But for real, the word that keeps coming to mind the more I look at the artwork is "iconic."

I see this as well. And the more I thought about it, the more the pose she is striking put me in mind of the poses of subjects in the paintings of a famous Japanese fetish artist. I may be way off base, but from what I understand Minaj is kinda into fetish stuff, so it wouldn't be surprising to find out she is a fan.

The artists name is Namio Harukawa. I've linked to his wikipedia entry here, which is SFW.

A google image search of his name is totally NSFW.
posted by valkane at 11:01 AM on July 30


MisantropicPainforest: "Anyway, If it is sooooooooooooo ubiquitous, maybe point to another album cover that is similar in tone? Should take you like, 3 seconds, right?"

Pink: The Truth About Love. And I think there's some pretty strong parallels between Pink and Minaj in many aspects. Pretty sure there's a Beyonce cover that's similar, too. What does that get us?

I dunno, a lot of this seems like "yes it is no it isn't I came in here for an argument" sort of discussion. If you want to microcategorize to this post in this angle with this outfit, sure, it's probably pretty unique.

Metafilter: Focus on your thesis.
posted by boo_radley at 11:26 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


Nicki Minaj herself posted other images like hers, all of which are similarly iconic Pinup images. She points out that as they are acceptable, hers should be too. Which is all true.

But that's not what the people arguing she is being 'subversive' or whatever claim she is trying to do.

The argument she is making is the same one I am. You like Nicki Minaj, so you are saying it is okay when she does it. Fine. Other people like Sports Illustrated models, so they are saying it is fine when they do it, too.
posted by misha at 11:31 AM on July 30


And you don't understand how those things are different? Really?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:33 AM on July 30


The argument she is making is the same one I am.

Nah, you seem to be missing a huge part of this. When she's calling them "angelic" and "acceptable" you can also read "white" into that.
posted by naju at 11:35 AM on July 30 [8 favorites]


I guess I'm not getting how people are so invested in explaining how boring and outrageous this is.

One way to think of it is as the outcome of successful social media marketing.
posted by MillMan at 11:37 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Pink: The Truth About Love.

The one where she's in lingerie and high heels?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:38 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


You like Nicki Minaj, so you are saying it is okay when she does it.

The people here arguing that this cover is more than just standard porny nonsense are doing so in good faith. Nicki Minaj's music and persona are evidence of this. She has a body of work to draw on for context, in a way that a Maxim cover model usually doesn't. It's pretty uncharitable to insist that we are hypocrites or somehow misrepresenting our stance.
posted by almostmanda at 11:38 AM on July 30 [19 favorites]


first time I heard 'Fancy' I thought it sounded like Gwen Stefani

Absolutely this! I said to MrSophie1, "So, what, Gwen and her two kids and the nanny are trashing the hotel room and getting drunk on the mini bar? Really?"
posted by Sophie1 at 11:42 AM on July 30


I'm a sex-positive feminist, which is out of favor these days in some circles, especially on Metafilter

This is really gross. Please stop painting the feminists here that you don't like as some sort of monster tribe. It's tired, and it's not true.
posted by palomar at 11:51 AM on July 30 [36 favorites]


She has a body of work to draw on for context, in a way that a Maxim cover model usually doesn't.

That's a rather offensive and sexist attitude. All kinds of women model for Maxim (which, by the way, is a very cherry-picked example for you to use in the first place).
posted by misha at 12:08 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I don't know her work well enough to even know if I like her or not but I think the cover is interesting and, yes, okay for her to do. Other people seem to think it's also worth discussing, even if it's to repeatedly insist that there's nothing new here to discuss. Gonna file that under "uh, okay."
posted by rtha at 12:08 PM on July 30


That's a rather offensive and sexist attitude.

Oh FFS. No. Most lad mag cover models are chosen solely for hot bodies and faces. Anything else is window dressing.

But if it's so wrong, by all means please point us to lad mag cover girls who have a history of outspoken feminism, empowerment, etc etc, and have a following of young girls who desperately need to see and hear strong female role models.

Surely there must be some, if all kinds of women model for such magazines. Thus, surely you must be able to show us some.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:12 PM on July 30 [4 favorites]


which, by the way, is a very cherry-picked example for you to use in the first place

cherry-picking only works for data or groups of examples, not for singular examples
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:12 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


MisantropicPainforest: "The one where she's in lingerie and high heels?"

boo_radley: " If you want to microcategorize to this pose in this angle with this outfit, sure, it's probably pretty unique. "

So, you know, if the sneakers completely recontextualize things for you, fine. Whatever.
posted by boo_radley at 12:15 PM on July 30


Yes I am saying that the clothes she is wearing places it in a different context.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:20 PM on July 30 [4 favorites]


But if it's so wrong, by all means please point us to lad mag cover girls who have a history of outspoken feminism, empowerment, etc etc, and have a following of young girls who desperately need to see and hear strong female role models.

Sure! Glad to.

Just off the top of my head: Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks are two former models and women of color who also serve as positive role models for young girls.
posted by misha at 12:21 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Surely there must be some, if all kinds of women model for such magazines. Thus, surely you must be able to show us some.

I'm not going to go through all of them, but just in the last year of Maxim covers, Sophia Bush. All sorts of accomplished women model for Maxim.
posted by lalex at 12:22 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I was going to come in here and say, "the only opinion I care about hearing is KRS One's!"

Which was fairly tongue-in-cheek because KRS One can be a grumpy curmudgeon purist that I don't always see eye - to - eye with, but I google it anyway. He respects her hustle and talent as an artist and businesswoman, but sees (in Starships-era Nicki), a potential for personal/political consciousness he did not see her displaying, placing her on a continuum of commercially - successful pop-rappers like Whodini, The Fat Boys, Young MC, and Hammer.

Personally, I see her on a continuum with Erykah Badu and Lady Gaga, artists who make interesting but fairly straightforward music that can be enjoyed on it's own merit, and then add a level of intentional provocation with their videos, photoshoots, live shows, and interviews.
posted by elr at 12:23 PM on July 30 [4 favorites]


I also hope Carmen Carrera gets her wish to become an Angel and Maxim cover model.
posted by misha at 12:24 PM on July 30


Just off the top of my head: Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks are two former models and women of color who also serve as positive role models for young girls.

You mean two women who have made their entire careers based on how they look to men? One of whom even (for a while, anyway, I hope she's stopped now) wore blue contact lenses to appear 'less black'?

These are good role models for young girls and you call yourself a feminist i am so confused
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:25 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


"similar, by which I mean an exacting precursor in all ways"
posted by boo_radley at 12:31 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


i don't think there's any reason to pit minaj against other black women who have been working their own hustle and building their own brands. tyra and naomi both have some awesome things about them. this whole maxim conversation is weird.
posted by nadawi at 12:32 PM on July 30 [11 favorites]


Don't put minaj and iggy in the same sentence. They are not alike at all.

Forbes all got in Nicki's face saying "oh, I guess iggy azalea is the new queen of rap" or whatever. Her response was like a straight up baller.

“Listen. All Forbes needs to worry about is my finances and when I’m going to be selling Myx Fusions for $250 million,” Minaj added. “That’s all they need to worry about. We rely on hip-hop connoisseurs and blogs for that kind of information. So we appreciate it, but no thank you.”

Sick burn, ms. Minaj. Fucking forbes.

posted by hal_c_on at 12:34 PM on July 30 [21 favorites]


Its not incidental. The standard trope of a sexy pop star is posing in lingerie and high heels--things that are considered traditionally sexy clothes for women to wear.

Minaj isn't wearing them. She's being sexy of course, but not according to how she, as a pop star, is supposed to be sexy. She's wearing not heels, but sneakers. She's not wearing lingerie, but a sports bra. There's a significant difference there.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:34 PM on July 30 [5 favorites]


It's not Maxim specifically that I was talking about. People were rabbiting on about this looking like a lad mag cover, and completely ignoring the context. So I was asking for examples of similar context. So far... one.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:34 PM on July 30




cherry-picking only works for data or groups of examples, not for singular examples

That...makes no sense. Cherry picking is, by definition, picking out a singular example from a group.

You mean two women who have made their entire careers based on how they look to men? One of whom even (for a while, anyway, I hope she's stopped now) wore blue contact lenses to appear 'less black'?

These are good role models for young girls and you call yourself a feminist i am so confused


Fffm, Naomi Campbell is an activist for diversity, animal rights, etc. Tyra Banks is also an activist for diversity, especially in the fashion world. She is in the process of producing a television show about Carmen Carrera, the transgender model I mentioned upthread.

Please do not do that "call yourself a feminist" crap. Especially when you clearly have no understanding of what you are criticizing.
posted by misha at 12:37 PM on July 30


Minaj isn't wearing them. She's being sexy of course, but not according to how she, as a pop star, is supposed to be sexy. She's wearing not heels, but sneakers. She's not wearing lingerie, but a sports bra. There's a significant difference there.

I almost want to make sockpuppets just so I can favourite this more times
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:37 PM on July 30


Especially when you clearly have no understanding of what you are criticizing.

You keep using this word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

In any case, boy howdy am I done engaging with you.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:41 PM on July 30 [4 favorites]


minaj has appeared as a judge on next top model, called out (positively) naomi campbell in a verse, and i think carrera performs some nicki minaj. they are all awesome and inspiring and the more possibility models women get the better our lives are.
posted by nadawi at 12:41 PM on July 30 [4 favorites]


My hat's off to Minaj for doing that cover. It's the perfect kind of controversial that set lots of people off (it was kind of shocking at first even to me, as a fan) and will get people talking and paying attention to her (and I like her music, she deserves the attention).

I love that she's totally in control of her image and staying in front of all the people criticizing her. It's not all that different than what Madonna was doing 30 years ago, also being called names for her provocative photos. I especially love Nicki's instagram account, where she's making a point about the racial undertones of people telling her she went too far when others don't get that kind of blowback.

The whole thing is a master class in how to make a point, sell albums, control your image, flaunt your sexuality, and do it all in a positive way. I'm impressed.
posted by mathowie at 12:42 PM on July 30 [21 favorites]


This thread is like the weird bastard child of fandom and feminism. Minaj is a woman who makes a shitload of money. To do so she both embraces and subverts the social hierarchy. I guess whether this is problematic or the most amazing artistic accomplishment of all time or just mildly interesting boils down to how much you like her music.
posted by leopard at 12:45 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


actually, the Eminem comparison sort of works for me; they both have a really rapid, percussive, almost staccato flow. (This makes the Iggy Azalea comparison seem even weirder, since her style is the drawling, kind of nasal delivery from Southern hip-hop.) There's a lot of differences, too, mainly the contrast between the more traditional sample-rap-sample and the modern electropop thing, but comparing them makes sense to me.
posted by kagredon at 1:09 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


The argument she is making is the same one I am. You like Nicki Minaj, so you are saying it is okay when she does it. Fine. Other people like Sports Illustrated models, so they are saying it is fine when they do it, too.

I don't think this is a very good reading of Minaj's argument.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:25 PM on July 30


Remember that FPP a while back about how Nicki Minaj and Jay-Z often sound like pitch-shifted versions of one another?

Ditto for Matthew Bellamy and Gwen Stefani.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:28 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Y'all can go back and forth about whether the sports bra and sneakers are a big deal or not, I guess, but you're kind of missing the point. You can't interpret that image outside of the larger context of Minaj's career, not to mention the history of rap and hip hop and our culture in general. Some things jump immediately to mind:

1) We can go 12 rounds about whether the pose is porny or subversive, and try to drag lad mags into it, but that's sort of beside the point if we're not also discussing who's doing the posing. She's posing herself that way, she's not a backup dancer/anonymous hot girl in a Mystikal video from 2000. OK, so given that she chose to pose that way, how should that color our reactions? If you think her posing herself that way, with that composition, is the same thing as a younger, less-in-control-of-her-own-career starlet in FHM or Maxim, you're deluding yourself. If you think that's meant to be a bog-standard "come hither" look, you probably have never heard Minaj's music, so the cover functions like one of those optical illusions that you can only perceive if you're not red-green color blind.

2) The fucking album is called Anaconda. This is so obviously a reference to Six Mix A Lot that she's clearly meant for us to interpret the cover in light of the (in)famous Baby Got Back, and the 20+ years of commentary on women's bodies in hip hop in between. It's also a pretty clear phallic reference, and giving the 'optical allusion' thing discussed earlier, I think all of that is very intentional and to just shrug it off is probably a mistake.

3) I kind of weirdly don't think that the album cover is meant to sell more records, or at least, not to the listeners that Minaj actually cares about. I mean, she's laughing all the way to the bank if someone (probably a dude, lbr) doesn't know her music but buys the album because of the cover art, listens to it once, and hates it. Minaj is pretty famous though, so most everyone who buys the album probably knows something about her and what to expect from the content. They're in on the, well, not joke, but I can't think of the right phrasing.
posted by axiom at 1:29 PM on July 30 [20 favorites]


yeah my money’s so tall that my Barbie's gotta climb it
posted by shakespeherian at 1:36 PM on July 30 [6 favorites]


I was showing this thread to my partner and he said that cover this reminded him of art by Lee Miller and Man Ray, featuring the body as phallus, especially the neck.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:37 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Regarding album sales, you don't reach Minaj's status by thoughtfully targeting a small niche of discerning listeners that you really "care about." You need to basically be ubiquitous. Having "dat ass" on the cover helps her gain more attention, even if that's not the only consideration behind it.
posted by leopard at 1:53 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


I wasn't trying to imply that her audience is in any way a small niche. I'm trying to say that she's understandably interested in selling lots of records, but I don't think she's posing thusly in a craven attempt to use sex to sell (or at least not only that). There's more to it than that. She could've chosen to do something more like the cover to the Starships single, say, and I think most of the same people who will buy Anaconda would've still bought it with this hypothetical alternate cover.
posted by axiom at 2:09 PM on July 30


I'm a sex-positive feminist, which is out of favor these days in some circles, especially on Metafilter

This is really gross. Please stop painting the feminists here that you don't like as some sort of monster tribe. It's tired, and it's not true.


Palomar, this statement was not an attempt to paint anyone as anything. It was not meant to be derogatory towards anyone who is sex positive AND/OR to anyone who is a feminist.

It was meant only to explain where I personally am coming from and speak from my own experience.

To whit: I have personally seen a decline in sex-positive voices on Metafilter. Not really surprising, as many of the users I knew who identified as such in the past have since left the site (or are just lurking these days). Just a random example, but it has been so long since I had seen anyone mention Fetlife here that when it popped up in an answer in AskMe recently I was actually surprised to hear it was still around.
posted by misha at 2:10 PM on July 30


I for one can't wait to hear the "Anaconda" single now. I think she has something in store for everyone; hoping it explodes this entire argument.
posted by naju at 2:13 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


it's weird how perceptions can be different - i for one see a lot of sex positive feminists 'round these parts still and fetlife has been mentioned multiple times every month this year so far. a good way to speak about yourself is to speak about yourself and not make remarks about the (imagined) positions of others.
posted by nadawi at 2:17 PM on July 30 [23 favorites]


I feel like I'd have to find a very small cat indeed if I needed to swing a cat without hitting a sex-positive feminist around here. Your statement above, misha, read to be as self-righteous and superior, not as simply an observation, and you made it as a statement of fact, not an opinion.
posted by rtha at 2:20 PM on July 30 [18 favorites]


Also, not to pile on, but I don't understand why "being a sex-positive feminist" and having a "general disdain for 'the male gaze'" are mutually exclusive. Can't one enjoy consensual sexual behavior and still be put off by nonconsensual sexual behavior?
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 2:25 PM on July 30 [15 favorites]


"I get the whole thing of talentless awful disgusting attention-hungry people becoming famous and suddenly people think what they do has cultural cache, but seriously, she's just selling albums and she's part of the mainstream even though everyone is wanking off that she's pornographic. She sounds like everyone else, does nothing innovative, has nothing to say, and is as formulaic as a Michael Bay film. Big ass/deal."

Much as I resist seeing favorites as indicative of quality, this was disappointing to see so much support for. It's just such a profoundly ignorant, obnoxious steaming thread-shit that I'm embarrassed for you.

She's not a "talentless awful disgusting attention-hungry" person; she's got a tremendous amount of talent (even though I don't really like all of her tracks — that "Dungeon dragon! Rah!" was wack as fuck) — she's someone who's built a solid business empire off of being one of the sharpest, distinctive voices in hip hop. I mean, she takes the intricate punchline flow (#hashtag) of Lil' Wayne, her mentor, and moving from a Southern drawl to a Caribbean patois and integrating dancehall and reggeaton with trap better than anyone else — she's innovative as shit, and hardly formulaic.

And yeah, she's explicit in a way that sometimes feels repetitive/shallow, but I'm not gonna beef on Chuck Berry's accomplishments just because of My Dingaling, you know?

So yeah, she is a big deal. And as for Michael Bay — Transformers 4 is reputed to be an incoherent anti-movie, but his targeting of the Chinese public is a big deal and innovative at that scale.

Only you can prevent threadshitting. Next time you don't see what the big deal is, rest assured that someone else will be able to point it out and that nobody really gains anything from hearing another cliche rant about some artist you don't get.
posted by klangklangston at 4:06 PM on July 30 [25 favorites]


From I'm The Best: "All the girls will commend as long as they understand/That I'm fighting for the girls that never thought they could win/Cause before they could begin, you told them it was the end/But I am here to reverse the curse that they live in."
posted by klangklangston at 4:10 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I read through the whole thread, although I didn't read all of the linked stuff (well curated, BTW). I was surprised that no one mentioned the similarities between the Minaj cover and this promo from Lil Kim's debut (the Kim image wasn't the cover, but it was so ubiquitous that it may as well have been). I see the Anaconda cover as referencing that more than anything else.

Also, I'll add my voice to those noting that the "sneakers and sportswear while being 'sexxxy'" thing is not really all that new, and I don't find it at all subversive. It's totally standard in just about any 'urban' media to go that route when styling a model for a 'sexy' shoot. In particular, the entire streetwear/sneakerhead culture has been on it for years, and t shirts featuring photos of attractive women in seductive positions while wearing sneakers and a t/sports bra (often while giving a sort of uninterested or sneering/snarling look) is so old hat that it's totally played out. I see the Anaconda styling as reflective of the male taste currently dominating hip hop; big butt+tiny waist+no pants+small shirt/sports bra+straight hair+really glossy lips+Jordans= the "dream girl" in the fantasy of current rap (male) culture.

But man, the idea that Nicki is a great rapper just blows my mind. She definitely has some precise technical ability, but that's all I get from her. She's potentially great in the same way Eminem is (although her career needs another decade before she'll have the chance to prove it entirely), but I don't find any depth there at all. And I'm not a casual listener of rap; it's all I've really followed for about the last 20 years. I've got probably 90% of Minaj's catalog on my mp3 thing, and have heard it all at least once, and there's just so little substance there. Hopefully, if she lasts, she can show some more depth down the road. All i hear now is ploy after ploy, and I think this cover (mostly) is just more of that. And, for my tastes, I prefer rap that can't be bothered to capitalize on itself.

That said, I hope her career continues apace. She's no worse (or better) than most of her contemporaries, and her technical skill is certainly there. If chasing paper is what she's about, this cover certainly won't hurt, so good on her for rocking it I suppose.
posted by still bill at 4:23 PM on July 30 [11 favorites]


Just a random example, but it has been so long since I had seen anyone mention Fetlife here that when it popped up in an answer in AskMe recently I was actually surprised to hear it was still around.

If participation in FetLife is one of your markers of who is sex-positive and who is not, maybe you should make yourself aware of the many, many problems that FetLife has with protecting its members from being harmed by predators, and why many sex-positive people are not comfortable recommending it to people. And before you get yourself into a lather, I'm not calling all kinky people predators. I'm calling people who rape other people predators.

(Also, minor point, but important to me: I don't capitalize my username, and you don't need to capitalize it either.)
posted by palomar at 5:07 PM on July 30 [9 favorites]


(Also, a decline in sex-positive voices around here? When this is how the community suggests handling consentual teen sex? All due respect, misha, but you're full of it.)
posted by palomar at 5:11 PM on July 30 [10 favorites]


I haven't really noticed a decline in sex positivity; I have noticed a few folks asserting asexual identities, which is kind a new thing to label at least in my experience. There's also been a fairly drastic decline in dudes talking about their boners, So, still sex positive, not as boner positive.
posted by klangklangston at 5:42 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


After listening and watching "Looking Ass" about 40 times, I have come to the conclusion that the number is deeply conservative. Basically it boils down to: "you don't have enough money for me not to sneer at you for looking at my body which I have gone to extreme lengths to dress and enhance to make people look at me."

The song bounces around minor transgressions in this vein, climaxing at the accusation that the looker in question is only moving grams, not kilos, so WHAT THE FUCK?!
posted by telstar at 5:42 PM on July 30


Haters gonna hate.
posted by misha at 5:47 PM on July 30


I can recall quite a few that featured the young woman in question posing on beds with "come hither" looks -- but almost always lying on their backs or sides, and therefore, arguably not as in control as a woman in the position Nicki Minaj is in

This made me look at the cover again, and the position she's in--on the balls of her feet, hips flush with her knees, legs out at a wide angle and parallel to the floor, back straight--that's a fairly difficult pose to hold. If the purpose was straight-up titillation, there's much simpler ways to do it.

It reminds me of when we had the discussion here (and elsewhere) where some folks were dismissing twerking as just ass shaking, and others were pointing out that, no, it takes a lot of strength and practice to properly twerk (I.e., without bouncing your hips around.) If you listen to her lyrics, there's a pretty clear running theme (maybe one that's dismissed sometimes as bravado) about the strength and discipline required to be successful and taken seriously in a field that's pretty hostile and objectifying towards women. So she's posed in a way that requires strength and discipline, but will be read as sexual; that seems deliberate.
posted by kagredon at 5:49 PM on July 30 [5 favorites]


uh - you might need to listen to lookin' ass 40 more times. the problems with sharing chain, moving grams dudes is that they lie about who they are and what they do and what they have. also, if it were about money then her pussy wouldn't have been dry at the dude who flew her out to dubai.
posted by nadawi at 5:56 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


the other thing to know is that there are a lot of direct shots at gucci mane in the song for going on twitter and lying about having fucked her.
posted by nadawi at 6:02 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Ample-bottomed Instagram star lands job after attracting 2m page views. Note the poses, and the sneakers and workout clothes.
posted by misha at 6:08 PM on July 30


THIS JUST IN: people continue to enjoy looking at butts
posted by kagredon at 6:10 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


still-bill, Creekmur's letter referenced the iconic Lil Kim cover. I also agree about sneakerhead culture. There are a couple of sneaker sites that have "girls in sneakers" or "sneakerhead chicks" photo collages linked on their sidebars. I have so many sneaker sites bookmarked that I don't remember which ones they are, but the sneaker thing isn't new at all.

But this is basically what I feel like has gone on for years with a lot of different types of media, where whatever it is just happens to hit at the right time and everybody ascribes a bunch of stuff to it and elevates it far beyond anything it actually was. Nicki has had her ass out for years, there have been "sneaker girls" for what seems like ever, and chalking it up as new but not really new seems about right. The phallus thing is a real stretch but sure okay.

But I'm willing to let it play out and let her speak more on it and see where it goes.
posted by cashman at 6:16 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Just off the top of my head: Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks are two former models and women of color who also serve as positive role models for young girls.

Liking someone and thinking they're a good role model is a different thing from believing that their body of work as an artist forms a particular context for their continuing output. I don't think that Campbell's and Banks' bodies of work are at all comparable to Minaj's in this situation. Where do you think the parallels lie, in their artistic output?

Ample-bottomed Instagram star lands job after attracting 2m page views. Note the poses, and the sneakers and workout clothes.

Ceci n'est pas un derrière.

Context matters. I really don't know what you think that link demonstrates.
posted by howfar at 6:22 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


i think a lot of people miss that nicki is straight up hilarious along with all the rest that she brings.
posted by nadawi at 6:25 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


"After listening and watching "Looking Ass" about 40 times, I have come to the conclusion that the number is deeply conservative. Basically it boils down to: "you don't have enough money for me not to sneer at you for looking at my body which I have gone to extreme lengths to dress and enhance to make people look at me.""

Even better for lyrical analysis is reading the actual lyrics, in which Minaj's targets are in order:

1) Men who pretend to be good at smoking weed but are coughing and choking.
2) Men who lie about having sex with women.
3) Men who lie about the state of their finances.
4) Men who pretend to have a monthly cell phone plan but are on pay-go.
5) Men who are unemployed and considering robbery rather than getting a job.
6) Men who want a check from her but will not give her a check (ambiguous).
7) Men who proffer her sex she's uninterested in.
8) Men who talk about their exes.
9) Men who want her time but will not pay for it (the only line so far that supports your thesis, and even then it's in the context of them wasting her valuable time).

Second verse:

10) Men getting bottle service who then share one bottle.
11) Men who can't afford a chain of their own because they have no game.
12) Men who nurse one drink at a club.
13) Men who scam with credit cards to afford clubbing.
14) Men without a dick.
15) Rappers who are gay but want a beard to pass (ambiguous).
16) Men who think flying her to Dubai overcomes those objections (which contradicts your thesis).
17) Men who claim to enjoy cunnilingus/Gucci Mane (ambiguous).
18) Fake dope dealers.
19) Guys who claim to move kilos but only move grams.

So… your analysis seems unsupported by the text.
posted by klangklangston at 6:28 PM on July 30 [14 favorites]


"still-bill, Creekmur's letter referenced the iconic Lil Kim cover. I also agree about sneakerhead culture. There are a couple of sneaker sites that have "girls in sneakers" or "sneakerhead chicks" photo collages linked on their sidebars. I have so many sneaker sites bookmarked that I don't remember which ones they are, but the sneaker thing isn't new at all. "

One thing from Creekmur that bugged me: He references Maya Angelou as an exemplar; Angelou worked as a prostitute and madam when she was young and wrote explicitly and unapologetically about it. It seems weird to decry Minaj's sexualization while lauding Angelou without coming across like you're doing some weird mental gymnastics or that you just don't know very much about Maya Angelou.
posted by klangklangston at 6:31 PM on July 30 [9 favorites]


Wow, there's a lot of old-fashioned reductiveness about sex work here.

>Well, Nicki Minaj is neither a porn star nor a stripper, and I wonder if we could pare back on these comparisons unless there is something more in-depth than "she looks like a sex worker" to them.

>The side-eye is at you as the person who sees this image and is seeing her not as a smart provocateur but as "urban" sex worker. The entire image is aimed at tweaking you and it's a shame that you're missing it

>After listening and watching "Looking Ass" about 40 times, I have come to the conclusion that the number is deeply conservative.


In "Looking Ass N***as", Nicki is wearing a dress and shoes that are sold (often exclusively) at stripper or gogo dancer shops. I don't know-- and don't think it's on the record-- if she's ever done stripping or sex work, but she uses the visual language of sex work, raps about and dedicates anthems to strippers, and is pretty obviously embedded in sex work scenes. "Looking Ass" is a teardown of male gaze entitlement within that context. She's pointing a machine gun and a j'accuse at men who think that being the audience for a sexualized performance, whether that performance is in a club or in a music video, entitles them to lie to her, disrespect her, waste her time, and generally expect her to cater to their mediocrity while she is delivering excellence (see the "Bossed up" rant) because they think that being a woman and especially a sexual woman is so essentially degrading that she should be grateful for whatever scraps of attention, respect, or monetary compensation for her work that they throw at her. There is really nothing "deeply conservative" about taking a stance against the kind of male entitlement at play in this video.

The entire debate here about whether sneakers signify black womanhood or some obscure nod to pedophilia, the active vs passive stripper eyeball, and whether Nicki is presenting as an "urban sex worker" or "smart provocateur" is completely missing the point of most of Nicki's sexualized persona play, which is that she challenges her viewers to see her as ~urban, as a black woman who utilizes her sexuality as a profession, and who is also an intelligent, complex provocateur. This is apparently much more challenging for many people than the simple 'covered feminist vs debased exploited whore' dichotomy I'm seeing in this thread.

>It actually reminds me of a great series of sex workers in Nevada taken when they weren't on the clock, just doing ordinary stuff and the sex fantasy projection on them showing as a facade.

This is the aesthetic, yes.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 6:55 PM on July 30 [12 favorites]


I identified as a sex-positive feminist for a long time, but the more time I spend reading about different kinds of feminism and living my life, the more I figure out how much sex positive feminism is patriarchy wrapped up in feminist ribbons, and I'm not interested in that; a lot of the sex-positive stuff is no-sex-negative, and I've realized that a lot of the people I thought were sex positive role models (Dan Savage, for example) actually supported a lot of really bad shit, sex-wise, and that believing them led to some really bad experiences and helped put me off most sex with men in general. I think a lot of people are increasingly realizing that a lot of sex-positive spaces, especially kink/BDSM spaces, actually shelter a lot of sexually violent people. There's some good ideas that can be extracted from sex-pos feminism, but the community right now can be pretty toxic and includes some really, really bad feminists, and if you're seeing less people identifying as that, it's likely that a lot of us have grown up and grown out of our naivete and bad ideas.
posted by NoraReed at 7:02 PM on July 30 [4 favorites]


Cashman: "But this is basically what I feel like has gone on for years with a lot of different types of media, where whatever it is just happens to hit at the right time and everybody ascribes a bunch of stuff to it and elevates it far beyond anything it actually was. Nicki has had her ass out for years, there have been "sneaker girls" for what seems like ever, and chalking it up as new but not really new seems about right. The phallus thing is a real stretch but sure okay."

This about sums it up for me, also. Nothing new here, really, in any direction, but sure okay, let's see how it shakes out.

I can think of about a dozen women who rap who I think would be a better role model (mostly by way of being better, more substantive rappers than Nicki Minaj) for the daughter I don't have, but I don't think the whole role model thing should be hoisted onto anyone just for being in the public eye.

Also, let's not forget that the real winners here are Baby, Wayne, and the rest of the YMCM brass. Whatever it does or doesn't mean, the hoopla around this cover is making beaucoup loot for the label.
posted by still bill at 7:02 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Nicki is wearing a dress and shoes that are sold (often exclusively) at stripper or gogo dancer shops.

heh as i was reading this i was at this part of the compilation i linked upthread - where she's wearing a set i've seen on many a sex worker/porn star/nude model/etc. she is absolutely and obviously playing around with that imagery and daring the viewer to tell her that any of it keeps her (or any woman where that's her uniform) from being totally bossed up.
posted by nadawi at 7:04 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


NoraReed, I don't think sex positivity is the sum of "naivete and bad habits" but I agree with you about issues in the zeitgeist. I also ID as a sex-positive feminist, but I think the sex-pos movement of the early 2000s was revealed to have deep, deep problems-- like you said, rampant and unchecked abuse in BDSM communities, Dan Savage's GGG philosophy becoming increasingly misogynistic and coercive-- and I don't think the movement as it was has really addressed these problems, or been able to recover from them in a significant way. One of the ripple effects of this imo has been the popularity of the fluid asexuality spectrum as an ID for teenagers-- it feels more legitimate for kids to say "I'm demisexual to grey asexual" rather than "No actually, I'm not GGG, I don't want to do that."
posted by moonlight on vermont at 7:09 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


Also someone more qualified than me should get into the history of models in sex work uniform in hip hop videos when it comes to Nicki's wardrobe choices but I feel like this entire cultural conversation about Anaconda has a hilarious element of "Oh my god, Becky..."

Who understands those rap guys?
posted by moonlight on vermont at 7:22 PM on July 30 [7 favorites]


she uses the visual language of sex work, raps about and dedicates anthems to strippers, and is pretty obviously embedded in sex work scenes.

This is interesting. Right, she's definitely expressing a particular form of black sexuality with this visual language (vis a vis media/rap tropes about black sexuality), often referencing or in relation to strippers, music video girls, etc. - but I think a few people here are seeing her as literally doing sex work, and that's where I'm seeing the distinction. She's an artist using her sexuality for a multifaceted artistic purpose, and it often feels like male titillation is incidental or not remotely the primary goal. I believe equating Nicki the ongoing art project to a stripper is completely discounting what she's attempting to do, and I think it's possible to say that while being entirely pro-sex worker. And I think she would claim that she's merely using sexuality as one of many aspects of her artistic performance, as countless other artists are doing. tl;dr referencing the visual language of sex work != inviting comparisons to sex work.
posted by naju at 7:41 PM on July 30


I think you're mostly right there, moonlight on vermont. As far as 'video girls' go, Nicki Minaj's fashion is, again, nothing very new. In a sense, it is new to see a rapper in those getups (again, though, it's not that new; Kim and Foxy both did it a long time ago, and both occasionally fully rapped the role of a sex worker, and a big part of Eve's early career was that she was a former exotic dancer, and still frequently dressed the part). She does do some things, fashion-wise, that are a little left field, but I don't think those things are terribly meaningful or anything. The wigs are more of the same (again, Kim did that a lot a while back), and the wild outfits scream Kim-meets-Gaga, at least to me. I'm not sure if I think Minaj is intentionally playing with any imagery in her fashion, but I am sure she knows that her fashion choices are intimately tied to her continued sales.

In some ways, I think we are seeing a portion of the fandom projecting what they want onto what Minaj is doing. I think that's okay, and I do it with art and artists that I like, but I think it's good to be aware of the possibility that lots of this stuff is just marketing and the leveraging of sexual capital to sell product.
posted by still bill at 7:42 PM on July 30 [4 favorites]


In some ways, I think we are seeing a portion of the fandom projecting what they want onto what Minaj is doing. I think that's okay, and I do it with art and artists that I like, but I think it's good to be aware of the possibility that lots of this stuff is just marketing and the leveraging of sexual capital to sell product.

Okay...great? I don't think anyone was unaware of that. It's sort of apparent all the time with everything.
posted by kagredon at 8:09 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


I wasn't making an effort to drop some revelatory shit there, kagredon. But, there's been a lot of talk about the 'intention' of all of these things Nicki Minaj is doing, here and elsewhere, and some of it seems to be overlooking the extremely intentional marketing. That's all. Wasn't intended to be some truth bomb or something.
posted by still bill at 8:23 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


books can (and will) be written about lil kim vs nicki minaj. i'm a fan of both, but i think minaj is a lot more aware, or at least is able to show that off more than kim did.
posted by nadawi at 8:27 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Also someone more qualified than me should get into the history of models in sex work uniform in hip hop videos when it comes to Nicki's wardrobe choices but I feel like this entire cultural conversation about Anaconda has a hilarious element of "Oh my god, Becky..."

Who understands those rap guys?
posted by moonlight on vermont at 7:22 PM on July 30


Wow, I did not put that together at all. Read that whole intro though:

Oh, my, god. Becky, look at her butt
It is so big. She looks like
One of those rap guys' girlfriends
But, y'know, who understands those rap guys?
They only talk to her, because
She looks like a total prostitute, 'kay?
I mean, her butt, is just so big
I can't believe it's just so round, it's like
Out there, I mean - gross. Look!
She's just so ... black!


If this doesn't parallel the reaction to Minaj's album cover I don't know what does. And that, I think, is the point. Nicki Minaj knows exactly what kind of reaction this image is going to draw from certain corners. Except, Nicki Minaj isn't a "rap guys'" girlfriend. She's the rap guy. It's her body and she knows exactly what she's doing with it and exactly what you think about it. Other female entertainers have certainly used their sexuality provocatively in order to sell their music. Minaj just seems to have an ownership and awareness of it (in cultural/business context) that previous artists like Madonna or Li'l Kim lacked. Perhaps I'm not being generous enough to them.
posted by runcibleshaw at 8:28 PM on July 30 [17 favorites]


Runcibleshaw, yup, exactly. Axiom's comment above is a pretty good primer on this; the title 'Anaconda' is a reference to Baby Got Back lyrics and the leaked snip of the song samples the Sir Mix-A-Lot original. And FWIW, I'd say that Madonna and Kim know exactly what they're doing.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 8:49 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Other female entertainers have certainly used their sexuality provocatively in order to sell their music. Minaj just seems to have an ownership and awareness of it (in cultural/business context) that previous artists like Madonna or Li'l Kim lacked. Perhaps I'm not being generous enough to them.

This seems like an argument centered on removing any agency or self-awareness from the artists that paved the way for Minaj. Kim knew exactly what she was up to, and owned it, and reveled publicly in the cash it made her. She rocked the whole image. I suspect Madonna did too, but never cared or followed her career or artistic output. I agree that Nicki Minaj seems to have those same things going on, but I think it's a mistake to pretend that she's the first, and I think it devalues the other female commercial pop artists that keenly understood and sold the image first.

On preview: moonlight on vermont said the last part of that much more succinctly.
posted by still bill at 8:50 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


"Grace Jones' 'Island Life' came out in 1995. She's posing like an athlete, wearing very little but some athletic-band type things, and her expression looks pretty 'empowered' to me. And she's a black female artist. Breaking through boundaries implies being the first to do something forbidden, and I still don't see how Minaj is."

I'm pretty sure Grace Jones was never a pop superstar. Female pop superstars are sexualized by default, and more to the point they are sexualized for the male gaze. Minaj is taking control of that image. You keep saying the same thing over and over again and not really engaging with what other people are telling you.

I am absolutely engaging with what other people are 'telling me', since I'm directly answering people's questions.

According to some people on this thread, Minaj's latest album cover is such a big deal because it goes where nobody has been before. Some of us pointed out that female singers have been pushing the boundaries of posing provocatively to sell albums since...forever. And people said, who? And I gave the example of Madonna, and was told it didn't count because it was too long ago, and it was more her 'Sex' book and not her album covers. Then some of us gave examples of other more contemporary female singers who've done it. And then people said, oh, but they were dressed differently to Minaj: eg Misanthropic Forest -'Are there any female pop stars portrayed in sexy poses with sports bras and sneakers? Can you point to those things?'. So I pointed to that thing. And now it's, oh, but that doesn't count because Grace Jones wasn't a pop superstar.

I mean, really...c'mon. We have now reached the point where Minaj is supposedly a trailblazer because nobody can point to another black female singer who posed provocatively on an album cover in sports gear in 2014. Erm, okay.

Yes, female popstars are sexualised for the male gaze. What I am trying to drill down to is how you, and others, think that Minaj is taking control of that image, where others haven't?

I agree that Nicki Minaj seems to have those same things going on, but I think it's a mistake to pretend that she's the first, and I think it devalues the other female commercial pop artists that keenly understood and sold the image first.

Damn right. Madonna put on a conical bra in the 1980s, took no shit from anybody, and made a fortune doing it. I am sincerely interested to hear why people think she had less control over her own image than Minaj does today.
posted by Salamander at 9:14 PM on July 30 [8 favorites]


Well said, Salamander.
posted by misha at 9:21 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


I am sincerely interested to hear why people think she had less control over her own image than Minaj does today.

Has anyone said this? You seem fixated on the idea that if she isn't the first, why bother, but whether she is the first or the last makes no difference to me.
posted by maxsparber at 9:26 PM on July 30 [8 favorites]


I don't think any female pop star has ever so strongly alluded to presenting herself as the object of desire and the object that desires, the gazer and the gazee, in this graphical a manner. Nicki likes to describe herself in her lyrics this way also. "I am not Jasmine, I am Aladdin.." "If I had a dick I would pull it out and piss on them" etc.
posted by bleep at 9:52 PM on July 30 [6 favorites]


"I am the alpha and the omega. I am the anaconda that don't want none, and the one that got buns, Hun."
posted by bleep at 10:16 PM on July 30 [9 favorites]


And I have to say, I wasn't thinking about this in this way until this post. I saw the album cover on twitter and I thought, ok, here comes the tiresome pre-album publicity stuff I usually find boring. But this post opened my mind.
posted by bleep at 10:18 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


maxsparber: "Has anyone said this?"

It involves a lot of back and forth, so there's no simple soundbite quotes, but yeah, it reads to me like feckless fecal fear mongerer, Kitteh, runcibleshaw, and MisantropicPainforest are saying that.

maxsparber: "You seem fixated on the idea that if she isn't the first, why bother, but whether she is the first or the last makes no difference to me."

If it makes no difference to you, does it not occur to you that maybe the question was directed at someone else?
posted by Bugbread at 1:21 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


What I am trying to drill down to is how you, and others, think that Minaj is taking control of that image, where others haven't?

At its most basic, and ignoring a number of subtleties and details: By using her sexualised body as a visual penis metaphor and naming the track using a metaphor for penis, a metaphor which itself makes reference to a highly significant artefact in the recent history of sexualisation of black women's bodies (Baby Got Back). This occurs in context of her artistic body of work, which explicitly both provokes and attacks male desire.

No-one is arguing that no woman in pop has ever previously been disruptive of the male gaze, or subverted its expectations, just that what Minaj is doing is interesting and significant on its own terms.
posted by howfar at 1:36 AM on July 31 [29 favorites]


If it makes no difference to you, does it not occur to you that maybe the question was directed at someone else?

It was directed at "people."
posted by maxsparber at 5:07 AM on July 31


If anyone is still scratching their head as to why this is interesting, howfar nailed it better than anyone else here.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:00 AM on July 31


a metaphor which itself makes reference to a highly significant artefact in the recent history of sexualisation of black women's bodies (Baby Got Back).

That may be simplifying it and missing important context. It was a celebration of black bodies at a time when black women's bodies were being treated as "other" in mainstream culture. So it was sexualizing, but it was an attempt to tell white America that yes, black women's shapes are beautiful, desirable and glorious.
posted by cashman at 6:16 AM on July 31 [3 favorites]


So it was sexualizing, but it was an attempt to tell white America that yes, black women's shapes are beautiful, desirable and glorious.

Absolutely yes. I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. There is a lot of detail and context to the cover, that should be discussed, which my comment overlooks. This is for the sake of trying to demonstrate, in simple terms, that there is something artistically significant to discuss.
posted by howfar at 6:54 AM on July 31 [3 favorites]


It involves a lot of back and forth, so there's no simple soundbite quotes, but yeah, it reads to me like feckless fecal fear mongerer, Kitteh, runcibleshaw, and MisantropicPainforest are saying that.

To be slightly more accurate, I'm attempting, perhaps poorly, to say that Minaj is taking control in a very different way than Madonna did. Black women aren't 'allowed' by society at large to take control of their own sexuality and use it as they please. Minaj is saying fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you and your little dog too, this is my body and I will do whatever I want.

Also what howfar said.

It's not that Minaj is the first to transgress boundaries of sexual agency and power. It's that given the specific context of her work and her subculture, it's boundary-smashing in a way that hasn't happened before.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:04 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


It's not that Minaj is the first to transgress boundaries of sexual agency and power. It's that given the specific context of her work and her subculture, it's boundary-smashing in a way that hasn't happened before.

fffm: This is an honest question. Isn't this exactly what we have said about Beyonce on numerous occasions? If so, what is the difference between Beyonce and Minaj that makes the latter "boundary-smashing in a way that hasn't happened before"?
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 8:15 AM on July 31


I'm not especially sure how important it is to qualify something as The First Of Its Kind in order for it to be interesting or noteworthy.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:17 AM on July 31 [4 favorites]


It's going to be very difficult for anyone to win an argument against the one-two punch of "This is incredibly boundary-smashing in a way that no one's ever seen before" and "Why are you insisting that this has to be incredibly boundary-smashing for it to be interesting or noteworthy?"
posted by leopard at 8:36 AM on July 31 [6 favorites]


Probably best just to engage in productive discussion then, rather than trying to win an argument. If you don't think it's interesting or worth discussing, that's also fine, but I still don't think that trying to win that argument is likely to be more helpful than engaging in another discussion you do find worthwhile.
posted by howfar at 8:56 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


I wasn't trying to win an argument -- I was just pointing out that the people who argue against the "this is completely groundbreaking" comments end up walking directly into the "this doesn't have to be completely groundbreaking to be cool" comments. Apparently by pointing this out I am making a claim that I "don't think it's interesting or worth discussing." I don't see how this logically follows but I get the feeling logic isn't really that important here.

Theoretically speaking the people who write "this is cool because this has never been done before" and the people who write "this is cool even though similar things have been done before" are actually disagreeing with each other to some extent. Of course that's not how it works in practice, because no one in either camp cares about whether this has been done before, they just think it's cool and as howfar says it's completely unproductive to engage them on any substantive points.
posted by leopard at 9:08 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


So yeah. I'd even suggest that if someone else does something like this in the future, that would be noteworthy and boundary-pushing and important as well? It's not like we're arguing about who was the first punk band. We're talking about a black woman asserting nonstandard sexual agency and domination in a culture which is 100% hostile to it. More Of This Please.
posted by naju at 9:11 AM on July 31 [5 favorites]


Isn't this exactly what we have said about Beyonce on numerous occasions?

It's not something I've ever said about Beyonce, no.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:14 AM on July 31


It's not something I've ever said about Beyonce, no.

Wow, really? I don't have time to look, but I'm certain that one of the discussions in numerous Beyonce threads, including the recent one about whether she is a good-enough feminist based on her "Rosie the Riveter" instagram, was about whether Beyonce is circumventing the "hot pop star" paradigm by taking control of her own sexuality. That's her whole thing.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 9:59 AM on July 31


I was just pointing out that the people who argue against the "this is completely groundbreaking" comments end up walking directly into the "this doesn't have to be completely groundbreaking to be cool" comments.

I don't think there's been any one person who made both claims. I don't think this needs to be an argument with diametric sides. I disagree with some folks in here who say the album cover is no big deal. I also disagree with some folks in here who say that it's a big deal because it breaks new ground in brand-new ways.

That's generally how conversations work?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:00 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


"This is an honest question. Isn't this exactly what we have said about Beyonce on numerous occasions? If so, what is the difference between Beyonce and Minaj that makes the latter "boundary-smashing in a way that hasn't happened before"?"

Beyonce has constructed her public image off of the archetype of diva and queen; Minaj is working within a different archetype, that of a rapper. They're fairly different in how they construct their sexualities, which is a little clearer if you think about Beyonce coming from R&B rather than rap — even on songs like Blow or Partition, she's not nearly as explicit (I don't think I can name a song where she says "pussy"), and the sex acts are partnered and generally mutual. Minaj is more in the aggressive, dominating archetype of a rapper. Her antecedents are more Lil Kim, Missy Elliot (who's getting overlooked here because she doesn't have the traditionally attractive body that Minaj does), Eve, etc. For a better comparison against Beyonce, you can look to Rihanna, though she's her own topic with regard to sexuality and media portrayals.

What distinguishes Minaj for me is that she's smarter than Lil Kim and has a better flow by a long shot (not sure why Still Bill doesn't get her chops as a rapper unless he's one of the po' faced olds still telling everyone rap peaked with Illmatic). She's also more aggressively dismissive of male attraction — Lil Kim played into a fantasy of male audiences and encouraged it explicitly; Minaj is far more contemptuous of it and has a more complicated textual relationship based on pleasure on her terms. While Kim knew what she was doing, what she was doing was pretty explicitly making money from being a sex object. Minaj is making money from being a rapper/pop star/complicated sexual person. (The complicated sexual person is something that, again, I think Missy Elliot did really well, but because she wasn't positioned as a conventionally attractive woman, she was both coming from a different place and had a bit more latitude to get her freak on).
posted by klangklangston at 10:01 AM on July 31 [12 favorites]


According to some people on this thread, Minaj's latest album cover is such a big deal because it goes where nobody has been before. Some of us pointed out that female singers have been pushing the boundaries of posing provocatively to sell albums since...forever. And people said, who? And I gave the example of Madonna, and was told it didn't count because it was too long ago, and it was more her 'Sex' book and not her album covers. Then some of us gave examples of other more contemporary female singers who've done it. And then people said, oh, but they were dressed differently to Minaj: eg Misanthropic Forest -'Are there any female pop stars portrayed in sexy poses with sports bras and sneakers? Can you point to those things?'. So I pointed to that thing. And now it's, oh, but that doesn't count because Grace Jones wasn't a pop superstar.

Yes, and fffm asked for examples of models being role models and/or activists, and then just dismissed the examples of those we gave, too.

Quite a lot of goalpost changing going on in this thread.
posted by misha at 10:04 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Wow, really?

Yes, really. Re-read what I said: "It's not something I've ever said, no." (With caveats for a memory like Swiss cheese, but I'm 99% sure I haven't. Emphasis added.)

Plus as klang pointed out they are coming from totally different archetypes. Black-woman-as-diva goes back through Whitney and Warwick and Aretha and Ella and Billie (and I'm leaving out lots more).

Yes, and fffm asked for examples of models being role models and/or activists, and then just dismissed the examples of those we gave, too.

That's not what I asked for. I asked specifically for lad mag cover models (you know, slightly different than international supermodel millionaires) who have the same power and agency. That you did not provide. Do try and actually respond to what people write, and not the conversation you're having in your head, won't you?

The irony of you complaining about goalposts being shifted has actually made me feel unclean.

Ugh. I can't believe I let myself get sucked back into your nonsense but I am sick to death of people twisting what I say.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:25 AM on July 31 [6 favorites]


(not sure why Still Bill doesn't get her chops as a rapper unless he's one of the po' faced olds still telling everyone rap peaked with Illmatic)

I said very clearly that she has "chops", in a technical sense. She has a very precise technical ability, and can rap her ass off. As I said, I think she lacks the depth, substance, and soul to be considered a 'great' rapper in any sense that includes those elements in the criteria. Illmatic is a good record, but I generally don't care for Nas and can rattle off about 100 better albums since. Thanks for the almost-strawman, though!
posted by still bill at 10:25 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


This thread is still super-grumpy...
posted by colie at 10:28 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Or to put it another way, one is expected to engage in good faith on MeFi, which includes responding to what people have actually written. Try and rise to the occasion, eh?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:28 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Yes, really. Re-read what I said: "It's not something I've ever said, no." (With caveats for a memory like Swiss cheese, but I'm 99% sure I haven't. Emphasis added.)

OK, fair enough.

I don't really see why "diva taking control of her own sexuality" and "rapper taking control of her own sexuality" should be that big of a difference, but it's not worth arguing about.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 10:30 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


This thread is still super-grumpy...

Hahaha, right?! To be fair, dismissing the subject early on as "sweary big-bum shock-rap" didn't exactly help on that front, colie.
posted by naju at 10:31 AM on July 31 [8 favorites]


I don't really see why "diva taking control of her own sexuality" and "rapper taking control of her own sexuality" should be that big of a difference

"Diva" automatically has connotations of power and agency in a way that not-diva doesn't.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:32 AM on July 31 [3 favorites]


dismissing the subject early on as "sweary big-bum shock-rap" didn't exactly help on that front, colie.

Well I'll admit that was a bit uncalled for and if I had the chance again I wouldn't have said it, but is it really necessary to be a fan of an artist or genre to comment on something that is all around us, all the time (I speak of her successful singles)?

My own musical tastes are pretty mainstream/old fart, things like Phil Collins and Adele, and honestly people say the most dismissive and ragey things about those kind of pop artists in threads all the time. Sometimes I respond with a constructive response about why I like them or just ignore them, but I don't insist that commenters must know their oeuvre fully before commenting.
posted by colie at 10:39 AM on July 31


I disagree with some folks in here who say the album cover is no big deal. I also disagree with some folks in here who say that it's a big deal because it breaks new ground in brand-new ways.

What is puzzling is why you think it IS such a big deal.

For me, it is obviously the graphic, sexy pose that is making waves, and that is all about selling records.

But those that disagree with my perspective have used terms like subversive and, yes, implied Minaj is doing something that has not been done before, and thus is especially noteworthy, even that she is making a feminist statement.

Both of those are equally subjective viewpoints. The latter, though, just on the face of it requires a LOT more support to back it up, because it is in direct opposition to the long history of women being objectified in popular media and the misogynistic messages frequently found in popular music and even more specifically within the genre in which Anaconda is being marketed.

Yet those, like me, that point out how counter-intuitive that perspective is for those reasons, are told they just don't get the subtlety of the message or understand the context of Minaj's work. Which is not in any way a convincing argument. It's not even an argument, just an opinion, not even borne out by facts.

There's just no good reason to dismiss the obvious interpretation. What is obvious is that Iggy Azalea is threatening Nicki Minaj's music sales, Anaconda is a simple, straight-up reference to the lyrics from Baby Got Back, "my Anaconda don't want none unless you got buns, Hon," and Minaj is most likely showing her buns off in that image to sell more albums. Which is understandable and pragmatic, but not at all 'subversive'.
posted by misha at 10:49 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


[deleted a couple of comments. People's opinions differ, and that's fine. It's not a battle to fight and win.]
posted by restless_nomad at 11:01 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


What is puzzling is why you think it IS such a big deal.

I think it's great because it's a continuation of Minaj's record of invoking the misogyny rampant in rap and pop culture and then twisting it into her own form of attack. 'Beez in the Trap' repeatedly invokes Dr. Dre's immortal line 'Bitches ain't shit,' only to immediately follow it up with 'A hundred motherfuckers can't tell me nothing,' which subverts Dre's line, simultaneously reducing it from a proclamation about what women are like into just more hip-hop braggadocio and declaring Dre (and his ilk) motherfuckers who are just as beneath her as the women in the first line. She does this sort of thing pretty much constantly in her lyrics.

The cover is the same thing. Yeah, it recalls a lot of B-girl images, but at the same time the title -- Anaconda -- invokes 'Baby Got Back' but seems to be referring to Minaj herself as the anaconda, as the phallus. She knows what you're thinking about when you're looking at the picture and she's already turned the meaning around on you. She's the anaconda, and she will fuck you up. The symbols and images you think will allow you to hold her down are already hers, because she is just so above you.

You don't need a familiarity with her lyrics to get this. It's right there on the cover. But a familiarity with the lyrics indicates that it's a consistent reading with her body of work.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:04 AM on July 31 [13 favorites]


i don't think it's at all "obvious" that this is somehow about iggy azalea. if anything her just released single with jessie j and ariana grande is playing more in that wheelhouse than the messaging around anaconda. also, nicki has been working on this album and the prerelease singles for a long time. it might seem out of the blue to someone who doesn't follow her, but this is just where she is in her album cycle.
posted by nadawi at 11:27 AM on July 31 [3 favorites]


feckless fecal fear mongering: ""Diva" automatically has connotations of power and agency in a way that not-diva doesn't."

I'm not disagreeing with your overall point (I'm fairly undecided on Nicki Minaj as a general phenomenon), but, on this one point, for the most part "rapper" has connotations of power and agency as well. Not as much as "diva", true, but still pretty high up there.

I think the issue here is that the conversation seems structured like this:

Pro-Minaj User A: "This is important because it's groundbreaking."
Anti-Minaj User B: "This isn't groundbreaking, though."
Pro-Minaj User C: "Why do you care if it's groundbreaking? It's important, even though it's not groundbreaking."

Here, User C is actually agreeing with User B about groundbreakingness, but not about Minaj in general. And User C is actually disagreeing with User A about groundbreakingness. However, since User C and User B disagree about Minaj in general, the phrasing comes off as being a disagreement with User B about the importance of groundbreaking, instead of actual agreement. What's really being said is more like:

Pro-Minaj User A: "This is important because it's groundbreaking."
Anti-Minaj User B: "I don't think this is important. I also disagree that it being groundbreaking makes it important, because this isn't groundbreaking."
Pro-Minaj User C: "I disagree with User A about it being groundbreaking. However, I disagree with you, too, User B, in that I think it's important, just for different reasons than User A."

It's really a three-camp triangle of agreement and disagreement, that's coming off as a goalpost shifting argument between two camps.
posted by Bugbread at 11:45 AM on July 31 [2 favorites]


(To clarify: I'm not saying that Users A or C are doing anything wrong, or shifting goalposts, or anything like that. I just mean that the nature of conversation, as opposed to structured formal debate or whatever, can lead to situations where nobody's doing anything wrong, but the conversation appears to be goalpost shifting.)
posted by Bugbread at 11:52 AM on July 31


Well I'll admit that was a bit uncalled for and if I had the chance again I wouldn't have said it, but is it really necessary to be a fan of an artist or genre to comment on something that is all around us, all the time (I speak of her successful singles)?

If you're commenting from a position of obvious ignorance, people will call you out on it. Consider that your perception of her music being "all around you, all the time" didn't mean that you had the context that a lot of people were bringing to the thread when you dismissed the subject.
posted by kagredon at 12:03 PM on July 31 [8 favorites]


Also the characterization of her music as "sweaty big-bum shock-rap" when you don't even own a TV have only (by your admission) heard (presumably the radio edits of) "Starships" and "Beauty and the Beat", neither of which are particularly sweary or shock-rap (I have no idea about the second descriptor) is a little weird.
posted by kagredon at 12:10 PM on July 31 [3 favorites]


for the most part "rapper" has connotations of power and agency as well.

I'd venture to say, though, that is more true for male rappers than for female. (Yes, obviously, Missy, Li'l Kim, Latifah, etc etc).
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:13 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Ok, that makes sense.
posted by Bugbread at 12:21 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]




"I don't really see why "diva taking control of her own sexuality" and "rapper taking control of her own sexuality" should be that big of a difference, but it's not worth arguing about."

They perform in different, though overlapping, idioms. It's like how R. Kelly and Ghostface talk about physical intimacy in different ways, for different audiences. It makes a significant difference for how they position themselves. You could even (reductively) code it in terms of romance (Bey) versus hedonism (Minaj). Those are both ways of taking control of one's sexuality, but they're different modes of control, and that's significant.

"Well I'll admit that was a bit uncalled for and if I had the chance again I wouldn't have said it, but is it really necessary to be a fan of an artist or genre to comment on something that is all around us, all the time (I speak of her successful singles)?"

Being a fan is different than being conversant with the form, especially when you're seeing it at a pretty big remove — it's like lumping Oasis, Blur and Pulp together as a bunch of white young disaffected lager louts out for a rail and a snog, then complaining that people are reacting poorly since you're just commenting on something that's all around all the time and do you really have to be an expert on Britpop to comment?

The latter, though, just on the face of it requires a LOT more support to back it up, because it is in direct opposition to the long history of women being objectified in popular media and the misogynistic messages frequently found in popular music and even more specifically within the genre in which Anaconda is being marketed. "

… but if you're familiar with that specific genre, you should be able to pick up the allusions that separate this out and make it an ironic cover. You're trying to have it both ways too — have people explain to you why it's a big deal out of context, then claiming that specific context is determinative in an ambiguous image.

"There's just no good reason to dismiss the obvious interpretation. What is obvious is that Iggy Azalea is threatening Nicki Minaj's music sales, Anaconda is a simple, straight-up reference to the lyrics from Baby Got Back, "my Anaconda don't want none unless you got buns, Hon," and Minaj is most likely showing her buns off in that image to sell more albums. Which is understandable and pragmatic, but not at all 'subversive'.

1) Obvious that Iggy Azalea is threatening Nicki Minaj's music sales? That's just bullshit. Pink Friday sold more in the US in its first week than the New Classic has sold in 14 weeks worldwide. That's like suggesting that Bon Iver is threatening Minaj, or Bresson's Lucy is threatening Minaj.

2) The reference is to Baby Got Back, but Minaj IS THE ANACONDA. That's been repeated to you seven billion times in this thread alone.

As your argument rests on factually wrong premises and ignores the obvious counterpoint, it is not a valid support for the contention that this is obvious.

(A note: I'm not being strident because I have all that much invested in Minaj as some sui generis trailblazer, just annoyed at the terrible ipse dixit arguments against recognizing this as significant and interesting.)
posted by klangklangston at 12:45 PM on July 31 [7 favorites]


Now that might be something, if she did in fact get Bey on a track. Even though I've been through countless moments like this where the names on the paper look 10 times better than what you actually end up getting.

But just another point for context, in case this ends up being pretty tame as far as execution from here on out, on Nicki's part. Rappers have done this for a long long time. They'll come up with some concept or something and then try to execute it, and then explain it. For years I've jokingly referred to it as dropping knowledge, or kicking science. And I'll do this faux explanation that I've seen rappers do a bunch of times, to mock it.

So what I'm saying is, if this doesn't end up changing the world or being some huge thing - if a week or two from now Nicki has moved on and left the whole thing in the dust and so has everyone else, it's not like rappers haven't done that before, so it's par for the course rather than some spectacular failure.

But I eagerly look forward to see what happens next. You can imagine that outside of here, the cover is being received as you might imagine. So it'll be interesting to see how Nicki operates with this concept in the next week or two.

And just to throw in - if you look at mixalot's twitter page, he liked the cover.
posted by cashman at 1:15 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]


the characterization of her music as "sweaty big-bum shock-rap" when you have only (by your admission) heard (presumably the radio edits of) "Starships" and "Beauty and the Beat"

I've already retracted the 'sweary big-bum shock-rap' comment. 'Desire' is a great theme for pop music and she's rocking that, but 'Loss' as a pop theme is my personal preference so maybe I could be pointed in the direction of Minaj tracks that cover that emotion? (I did ask right at the start for info on what were her strengths). It's just words and music.

But I really like pop music; Nicki Minaj makes some mainstream pop music (as well as it seems something else on the side); I've heard most of the big hits: it's tonal music; it has a pulse and a metre; it creates effects through rhythm, melody, harmony, counterpoint; it is based around suspense and release; some of it is written and produced by non-credible industry heavyweights, some not; it is often heard in a context with other artists who lack Minaj's credibility and therefore confuses consumers like me (e.g. commercial radio stations in the UK); it can be discussed on MeFi, I would hope, without necessarily studying the genre in depth.
posted by colie at 1:28 PM on July 31


I feel like this thread really needs a rap battle or a dance-off to settle things.
posted by TwoStride at 2:01 PM on July 31 [5 favorites]


The issue of "she was the first!" "No, she wasn't!" is that there's an unrelenting cultural pressure to forget artists, movements, people who challenge any status quo, because it is always in the interests of the conservative majority to pretend that long-standing movements of resistance of any kind don't exist, and that any marginalized people who break into the mainstream are new and special. If these token personalities are different from the groups that they come from, you can continue to treat these marginalized groups like they're not worthy of attention.

There's something very uncomfortably reminiscent of "she's not like other black people" about claiming that Nicki is so very different from the video girls, models, strippers, and other female MCs and pop divas who came before her. A lot of her work references and is part of an ongoing cultural conversation with these other artists, and dismissing that in order to praise her, saying that Madonna or Kim were just brainless divas and tools of the patriarchal media but Nicki is actually aware of the politics she embodies, is destructive.

I think mefi trends towards an age group who were feeling out indie music politics when eg Madonna and Kim were popular, at a time when it was good leftist politics to despise pop as overcommercial and to dismiss the women who were part of it as bimbos, performers rather than artists, real life Barbies who had no idea what they were doing. Is this just me and my mefite friends? Does anyone else here remember that tipping moment when you realized that so much of the pop vs punk throwdown was about lionizing "authentic" white male artists and despising women?
posted by moonlight on vermont at 2:05 PM on July 31 [6 favorites]


Does anyone else here remember that tipping moment when you realized that so much of the pop vs punk throwdown was about lionizing "authentic" white male artists and despising women?

Yes. Don't we now have 'authenticity' issues surrounding Azalea vs Minaj?
posted by colie at 2:15 PM on July 31


Lol, no. Offensive cultural appropriation a la Miley and Iggy is not the equivalent of the "he's just so real, man" authenticity fetishizing of the 90's.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 2:37 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


people who are actually curious about azalea/minaj thing should do some googling - throw black face or minstrel show into the search bar as well. it's not about authenticity in the same way, but rather appropriation, and her tendency to be pretty racist at times.
posted by nadawi at 2:37 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Wow. Thanks to this, and google, I've discovered that people are really, really angry about Minaj's apparent theft of style and material from Lil Kim.

Turns out Nicki Minaj may not be the OG Black Barbie after all.
posted by zoo at 3:03 PM on July 31


oh man the lil kim beef is huge - and nicki won handily.
posted by nadawi at 3:05 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


She won because Lil Kim took her last bref.
posted by cashman at 3:35 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Here's a list of dope videos by female rappers. It's astonishing the people I forgot about, and the people around now who I love so much more than Minaj.

This would probably make an awesome FPP

The UI's shot to all hell, but you need to Left/Right on the images, and then play the videos separately.
posted by zoo at 3:41 PM on July 31


Nicki Minaj has recently been extremely critical of Iggy, though, especially after Iggy won the BET award, which Minaj feels should have been hers.
posted by misha at 3:50 PM on July 31


What, did Biggie Smalls ghostwrite all of Nicki's best songs too?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 3:51 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]


That's actually a great list, zoo, though it would be a terrible fpp. But I wouldn't be mad if the conversation around this whole thing led to people sharing the new generation of rappers who are female.

I thought about making a Beast Coast post last month, and just realized that I don't know of a single female rapper among them. If people want to memail me names (of new gen female rappers) we could filthy light thief a post together for next month or something.
posted by cashman at 3:57 PM on July 31


Sorry, Nicki Minaj did win, I was misremembering and got that wrong. She just didn't feel that Iggy Azalea should have been nominated.
posted by misha at 4:00 PM on July 31


Here's some of those Iggy Azaelia tweets for your edification.
posted by zoo at 4:06 PM on July 31 [4 favorites]


kagredon: It reminds me of when we had the discussion here (and elsewhere) where some folks were dismissing twerking as just ass shaking, and others were pointing out that, no, it takes a lot of strength and practice to properly twerk (I.e., without bouncing your hips around.)

Here's the other thing about "proper" twerking - it has a long history in types of African dance, I believe specifically Yoruba. I saw it years before it hit the (white) mainstream and started 'corrupting' (white) stars - in groups of black women who were re-introducing themselves to African tribal music as part of the cultural drive in some black communities to explore those roots that had been so violently severed by slavery.

And this is where the sexist racism comes in - the assumption is because young black women were doing it that it was just about sex, not about connecting with culture. Just like a lot of the dances that began in black communities were seen as communal property without a history, instead of part of a mixed tradition of music and dance which melded during slavery as people were ripped from their cultures and forced alongside others who didn't speak their language, and continued on.

Based on hearing Minaj talk about her perspective and purpose, I have a difficult time believing she is ignorant of any of this.

Ben Trismegistus: Isn't this exactly what we have said about Beyonce on numerous occasions?

From my perspective, Beyoncé does what she does within the context of a loving, passionate, heterosexual relationship where she is above those who critique her. Her entire current tour with her husband is a family tour - it ends with a video of their daughter just to cement the deal. Yes, she owns her sexuality and confronts the male gaze, but it's in a very different context class-wise than Minaj (as others have said, within the R&B Diva tradition), who regardless of romantic relationships is presenting herself as an independent actor who is a continuing part of hip hop culture, which tends to be more casual.

Both of them get push back specifically due to the combination of race and gender - but the contexts of their choices are different, even if the dollar signs are similar enough. I'm unsurprised both women are taking this on - what's notable is how much they are doing so while seeming to call all of the shots as mature women, something which even post-ground-breaking other pop stars remains fairly rare.

Ben Trismegistus: I don't really see why "diva taking control of her own sexuality" and "rapper taking control of her own sexuality" should be that big of a difference

Diva's are by definition Queenly and regal; with few exceptions, most Divas presented themselves as unattainable (and to an extend Beyoncé still does this - see heterosexual marriage above) and refined and elegant rather than sexual. That is, Diva's cleave closer to the "Madonna" side of the Madonna/Whore trap for women.

In some ways, you could see the women coming at the same dichotomy from both sides, on both sides saying "Nothing I say or do gives you an excuse to try to manipulate, control, or own me".
posted by Deoridhe at 4:34 PM on July 31 [7 favorites]


Here's some of those Iggy Azaelia tweets for your edification.

Those tweets are seriously shocking.
posted by colie at 1:21 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Here's some of those Iggy Azaelia tweets for your edification.

relevant
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:35 AM on August 1


A low-quality of Anaconda leaked today--it can be listened to here. I'm into it.
posted by MeghanC at 5:10 PM on August 1 [2 favorites]


The high quality song is out. It's a one listen for me. It certainly doesn't support anything that we discussed in here, because if I'm charitable enough to say she's using sex appeal to jack dudes for their stash and drugs, that's really nothing new, and everybody from Yo Yo to Bo$$ to Lil Kim has done that, to varying degrees.

While I wish it was some profound statement about sexism, turning a phallic image on its head and being something young people following in her footsteps could get behind, ultimately it's just a rap song. The beat is an uninteresting flip of the mixalot beat. She didn't try to flow on this one. Just rapped. The performance is mediocre. The lyrics are forgettable. Little wordplay and uninspiring storytelling.

That said, it's the lead single, right? Lead singles usually do suck.
posted by cashman at 7:12 PM on August 1 [5 favorites]


Ouch. I was hoping this was fake or an outtake or something.
posted by naju at 7:27 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Wait, I am going full conspiracy theory now. This is a prank right?
posted by naju at 7:35 PM on August 1


Oh wow that is bad.
posted by bleep at 7:37 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


And not in a good way.

And not like the 1/2 of her albums that I usually uncheck in iTunes. Bad like...something you do when you're very drunk, and then delete.
posted by bleep at 7:38 PM on August 1


i feel like i'm the only person on the planet who finds it to be a fun little bop. of course, i also really love 'stupid ho' so i'm used to being disagreed with about her songs.
posted by nadawi at 7:38 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


I also loved Stupid Ho.
posted by bleep at 7:39 PM on August 1


bleep: "Bad like...something you do when you're very drunk, and then delete."

It's bad, but it's not quite anime.
posted by Bugbread at 2:09 PM on August 2


So, the Beyonce/Nicki Minaj collab may have been the remix of Beyonce's Flawless that dropped yesterday. Could be a mutual thing - guess we'll see in the next few days.
posted by cashman at 8:18 AM on August 3


So that is indeed the final anaconda version. Nicki posted a preview of the Anaconda video, a 'Flawless' remix cover with Beyonce, and another picture, somehow related to the Anaconda promo.
posted by cashman at 6:20 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


and this is why lil kim loses again and again.
posted by nadawi at 5:09 PM on August 4


I already hate that everybody and their mother (including unsigned people) try to jump on the latest hot track without even bothering to flip anything. But then here she comes with a completely pointless verse that has no payoff. I mean in a way I have always felt like Kim will never truly try to take Nicki down, because what is the real point of that? But by the same token this should be easy for Kim to do. Give us at least a good line or two and then leave. Nicki's verse on Flawless wasn't even good. She slowed it down way too much. And for little Kim to look even worse than that - well at this point she should just call it quits completely if she's not going to bother to try.
posted by cashman at 8:25 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Apple and Spotify have placed virtual Parental Advisory stickers over her ass on the Anaconda cover.

(Srsly??)
posted by argonauta at 11:09 AM on August 5


Nicki is Fader's Cover Story. The article is dated today and the subtitle is "Earth’s best rapper talks family, fame and black women in pop culture" but it is pretty much generic stuff. It is a long piece and there are a lot of quotes from Nicki throughout, but there is nothing about the cover.
posted by cashman at 11:37 AM on August 5


I see that argonauta's link references the same Fader article.
posted by cashman at 11:39 AM on August 5


kim tries it again (and, to my estimation, fails, again). if she ain't trying to take nicki down, why does it seem like the only topic she can seem to put in her mouth?
posted by nadawi at 1:41 PM on August 6


I cringed through it yesterday as well. I hope Nicki doesn't bother responding. Or if she does, just please mercy kill kim and end it once and for all. It's like lil kim kind of wants the shine but just wants to not put in any work. Like she truly believes she's still on top and doesn't really need to reply. I don't know. At this point, Nicki could finish her off with a haiku.
posted by cashman at 8:24 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


Soooooo... this just happened. (Warning: link to Miley Cyrus's Instagram)
posted by argonauta at 5:24 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


What. Is she even try... Who? Help.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:38 PM on August 11 [3 favorites]


MILEY. STOP.
posted by argonauta at 7:04 PM on August 12


The video has dropped.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:25 PM on August 19


Well that was awful.
posted by zoo at 8:57 AM on August 20


no surprise, i love it.
posted by nadawi at 9:59 AM on August 20 [4 favorites]


The video is so over the top in it's asstasticness that I can't hate.
posted by naju at 1:33 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


relevant
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:39 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


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