Nicki Minaj is the worst (and that’s the worst, too)

I’m not normally on the up-and-up with the latest pop hits, but I feel compelled to draw a very clear line in the sand: Nicki Minaj is terrible. I wish she weren’t because I do really, really want to like her music, but I can’t because she is so atrocious. Allow me to explain.

I don’t dislike Nicki Minaj because I think she’s sexualizing women by flaunting her cosmically large butt. Girl’s got booty; that’s her brand. It’s her differentiator. It’s her product. Like Kim Kardashian, her butt is her business. And, like Kim, she is a smart business woman. You don’t accidentally achieve superstardom.

I don’t dislike Nicki Minaj because she’s a terrible dancer. Taylor Swift is also a pretty terrible dancer, but both of them own up to their lack of technical skill in their music videos. It’s authentic. I like that.

I don’t dislike Nicki Minaj because her lyrics are all sleaze and narcotics. That doesn’t make her music bad, although I recognize that many people would disagree with me. Part of what makes Minaj’s lyrics so jarring is that they do the same thing that lyrics of popular male rappers do: draw attention to their desirable lifestyle and objectify the opposite sex. It’s odd to listen to women sing about how successful and desirable they are because we are expected to downplay our successes. It’s weird to listen to women sing explicitly about sexual interactions with the opposite gender because we are expected to be demure and polite.

I like that Nicki Minaj is objectifying men and brushing off the backlash she gets from it; like Kesha, you simply cannot shame her. That’s awesome and so empowering! I love strong women who take full ownership over their own life and body.

No, I dislike Nicki Minaj because all of her music can be improved by removing her voice from it entirely. It is my theory that no one actually likes listening to Nicki Minaj and instead actually like the music accompanying her singing. Let’s break this down with four of her most popular songs:

1. ANACONDA (2014)

“Anaconda” takes a classic rap song that we all already know and love and gives it a tremendously catchy remix. There is no way you cannot listen to the music of “Anaconda” and not love it. It’s a feast for the ears…until Minaj kicks in and her grating, screeching voice pulls you away from the music. And that freestyle at the end? I literally shiver every time I hear it and have to find something else to listen to, STAT.

2. BANG BANG (2014)

I have no idea how this song came into existence, but I am even less sure of how Minaj got a part in it (aside from someone saying “Hey, Nicki Minaj is really popular right now. Let’s throw her in there!”) I’m just glad she’s rapping quickly enough that I can get back to enjoying Jessie J’s amazing set of pipes and the upbeat, totally dance-able music.

While we’re at it, let’s kick off Ariana Grande, too. She contributes equal amounts of nothing to the song and looks like she’s bait in an episode of To Catch a Predator.

3. SUPERBASS (2010)

I think this is the biggest let down of all Nicki Minaj songs because, for a shining second, Minaj actually sings well. She’s no Adele, don’t get me wrong, but she does a good job with the chorus. Unfortunately, her nasal, grating voice causes you to reflexively turn the volume down a few notches every time she raps, which ruins the experience of the entire song. The imitation of Minaj’s vocals by another pop singer, Karmin, is equally as obnoxious…proving the point that any Minaj-style vocals are the worst.

4. HEY MAMA (2015)

This song is catchy, as is all of Guetta’s music. Listeners were really impressed with Minaj’s vocal stylings on the chorus of this song, which showcase some new techniques we hadn’t seen from her previously (like vibrato). But the chorus, which we all crave simply because it’s so good, wasn’t actually sung by Minaj; it was sung by Bebe Rexha. Rexha got the shaft and didn’t have her name listed as a featured artist for weeks after the song’s release but, perhaps due to the internet demanding she get credit for her awesome vocals, she’s now listed as both contributing writer and featured artist. (She also released an acoustic version of the main vocals if you just want to listen to that on repeat.)

Minaj is expendable, if not a nuisance, in “Hey Mama.” Again, you reflexively mute your speakers or pull out your earbuds every time Nicki kicks in because her voice is simply so terrible to listen to.

And all of this– this tangent, this aversion to her music– is the worst because Minaj has done so much to push boundaries of pop music and carve a new niche for female rappers. Without her, we likely wouldn’t have seen the rise (and fall) of Iggy Azalea or so passionately embraced Rihanna’s “Bitch Betta Have My Money.” The foothold of the entire subgenre of female rappers would lose their foothold in pop culture if Nicki Minaj’s Louboutins weren’t there saving a spot.


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