Nicki Minaj stirred ire on Tuesday with a since-deleted tweet where she decreed, “What the white ppl post. >>>>>> The blacks only post the few seconds where I raise my voice to push their narrative.” The newly married Onika Petty was responding to a clip of the E! Network’s E! Nightly Pop show, which played a Queen Radio clip of her clowning media personality Wendy Williams for her ex’s extramarital affairs. Perhaps Nicki found glee in cohost Nina Parker literally snatching off her own wig to hammer home the sting of Nicki’s vitriol.
Nicki quickly deleted her comment, but a bad tweet is forever. Her assertion was widely criticized, including from one account that highlighted her dehumanizing usage of “the Blacks” and bluntly stated, “you gotta be aware of what you saying.” But if rap music was akin to the NBA 2K videogame franchise, Nicki Minaj’s awareness ratings would be on 0 for the past several years.
The Queens rapper’s most recent gaffe is just the latest in a long line of irresponsible comments and actions. Nevermind that her unironic use of “the Blacks” links her with President Donald Trump (on the wrong side of history). Her reductive assertion that “white media” is more favorable than “Black media” is laughably wrong — and contradicts her previous comments about the media. Numerous mainstream media outlets have presented unflattering narratives of her. Maybe she’s accurate that PR havens like The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The View probably won’t talk about her drama — but once her relevancy fades, they won’t talk about her at all.
Celebrity fluff outlets like People, Entertainment Tonight, and the E! network care about hip-hop strictly on a surface, tabloid level. They don’t criticize or celebrate music. These outlets rarely cover artists outside of the Jay-Z, Kanye West, Drake, Cardi B, and Nicki Minaj orbit. There are swaths of talented rappers who will never sniff coverage in US Weekly unless they date a Kardashian. How could these outlets be viewed as anything but opportunistic entities looking to cash in on hip-hop’s worldwide power?
As an iconic, multiplatinum artist, Nicki has been in the editorial purview of these outlets for almost a decade. She may be at the top of the music industry hierarchy — but there’s still a hierarchy. In July 2015, Nicki got into a slight disagreement with Taylor Swift on Twitter after Nicki rued her “Feeling Myself” collaboration with Beyonce not getting a VMA nomination. “If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year,” Nicki tweeted, which elicited a conciliatory response from Swift. Flames were fanned when media personality Ryan Seacrest then opined, @”TaylorSwift13 blasts @NickiMinaj for #VMAs jab” in a quickly-deleted tweet about the discussion. Nicki called out Ryan’s usage of “jab,” calling out the “white media and their tactics.” Apparently, she didn’t like the narrative Seacrest was pushing.
Nothing I said had to do with Taylor. So what jabs? White media and their tactics. So sad. That's what they want. https://t.co/AfcwoyDvpg
— Mrs. Petty (@NICKIMINAJ) July 21, 2015
That summer of misrepresentative coverage continued when Nicki called out Miley Cyrus on the VMA stage after Miley criticized her anger and called her “not too kind” in a New York Times article after the Swift incident.
After the VMA incident, The Daily Beast posted a side-by-side photo arrangement that depicted Nicki angrily pointing while Miley cowers. Salon came under fire for framing Nicki as a “savage” for her memorable “Miley, what’s good?” callout on the VMA stage. The outlet had to release an apologetic tweet and changed the headline in future postings of the piece, but their damage was already done.
The trend continued months later when Nicki got into a disagreement with reality star Farrah Abraham. Numerous outlets juxtaposed photos of Farrah and her child smiling, which led Nicki to sarcastically tweet, “They always manage to find a smiling photo of the ‘other’ team. 😬”
In recent years, Nicki has been less subtle about her gripes with media members. Last August, she called on her Barbz to essentially harass a writer who reported that her NickiHndrxx tour was canceled. She noted, “this is one black woman they will not bully into a corner by FRAUDULENT SHAMING TACTICS.” In December 2018, she threatened to sue media personality Jesse Palmer after he criticized her relationship with her now-husband because Petty is a registered sex offender after being convicted of attempted first-degree rape in 1995.
The polarizing rapper has an extensive history of being misrepresented and unfairly criticized in the mainstream media, which has in part spurred the me-against-the-world energy that she projects during Queen Radio segments.
Artists like Nicki believe that they transcend hip-hop when they reach outlets that don’t cover most of “the Blacks.” But that reality doesn’t equal ascendance, it simply means they’re one of the few Black entertainers worth trying to make a dollar from. Their stature also means being at the mercy of editors and writers with a fundamental disregard for hip-hop and Black culture, unaware or apathetic toward their racially insensitive coverage.
But perhaps Nicki knows all of this. Maybe that’s why she deleted her tweet so quickly and has been on such a warpath against negative coverage that she stood silent while her fans threatened journalist Wanna Thompson for a simple critique. It’s difficult for an artist as outspoken as her to avoid critical press. But it would behoove her to be honest about the reality that the criticism comes from all sides — and it’s rarely as black-or-white as she makes it seem.