Nicki Minaj Doesn't Want to Be Called a "Female Rapper" but There's a Slight Problem With That
Well, it’s about time: Nicki Minaj doesn’t think she should be called a “female rapper” anymore — and neither do we — but for slightly different reasons. Minaj told MTV during a recent interview, “Absolutely, I do not see myself as a female rapper anymore. I’m sorry, I see myself as a rapper. Like you said, I’ve worked with the greats and I’ve held my own with the greats. They respect me so I should respect myself enough to see myself the same way they see themselves.”
Minaj has showcased her supreme talents as a rapper time and time again since she blasted onto the scene in 2010 with her debut album, Pink Friday. But even if Minaj were the worst rapper in the world, even if she totally stunk, it may still be inappropriate to refer to her as a female rapper. We don’t call artists like Eminem and Jay Z “male rappers,” so why do we feel the need to do it with women? The practice is antiquated, and frankly, it can be perceived as kind of insulting. Why else would Minaj not want to be called a female rapper anymore?
Rap has historically been a male-dominated genre, and to some, the term female rapper carries with it the negative stigma of somehow being “less than.” As Minaj pointed out, she has worked with “the greats” and held her own — she doesn’t want to be stuck with a label that could be possibly be interpreted as “inferior.” But here's where Minaj’s interview went a little astray. She credited her new way of thinking to working with influential artists like Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Madonna, which elevated her to “another level,” different from “the typical female rapper.”
As opposed to wanting to get rid of the term for all artists going forward, it seems as though Minaj feels that she has earned the right not to be called a female rapper anymore. It's almost as if Minaj is saying that there may be some women in the music industry today who are not yet worthy of the title “rapper.” That's disappointing. It just reinforces the gender inequality that is so deeply engrained in rap music, where women are told that they need to “prove” that they can rap just as well as men and may never really be taken seriously, anyway.
Now, it’s totally possible that Minaj flubbed her words here and had no intention of making this sort of argument, but that’s the message that came across to me. I’m all for Minaj no longer thinking of herself as a female rapper, but maybe we should stop using the term to refer to any artist period, not just the ones who have supposedly proven themselves. Unfortunately, this seemed more like an instance of “Nicki empowerment” than empowerment for all women.