Before the digital age, female rappers sold entertainment in the form of music. Now they sell entertainment in the form of a public persona. An artist’s music used to be able to speak for itself. Today, multimedia platforms impose all sorts of opinions on artists and their creations that artists find themselves constantly defending themselves. Social media rants which are meant to lessen misunderstandings seem to be having the opposite effect lately. One of the most prominent examples of social media interfering with music is the circus act between Nicki Minaj and Cardi B.
The fan-fuelled conflict between the world’s biggest female hiphop artists of 2018 has been the talk of social media in these past few days. Although their “beef” seems like a sudden occurrence, the tension between them was born through media and has been brewing for several months now. As lovers of the hiphop culture, we took the liberty of dissecting the little details that brought us the big New York Fashion Week shoe-throwing moment.
Cardi B becomes the first female rapper to reach #1 on the charts without a feature since Lauryn Hill did in 1998. Hip hop fans begin to speculate on whether Nicki Minaj deserved to reach that goal before Cardi, seeing as Nicki had been breaking records in hip hop for 10 years before Cardi even appeared in the mainstream music scene.
Questions about Nicki begin to come up in several interviews with Cardi, where she repeatedly dismisses the topic and appears to be slightly uncomfortable with discussing the matter, leading the public to wonder about the relationship between the two stars.
The release of the Migos single, Motorsport, is released with an unexpected feature from both women. Social media is immediately ablaze with debates about whether Nicki or Cardi performed the best verse on the track.
This is shortly followed by a music video where both women give a stellar performance, yet they don’t appear in any of the scenes together. This awkward lack of synergy raises more questions and creates rumours of conflict between the two ladies behind the scenes.
As the majority of these rumours incriminate Nicki Minaj, she decides to issue tweets, defending herself against accusations that she is difficult to work with. Despite her efforts to clear her name, the belief that she is trying to sabotage Cardi’s success remains the main narrative of this conflict.
As hiphop media continues to demonize Nicki Minaj and criticize her character, she disappears from the public eye, taking a social media hiatus for a few weeks. Upon her return to the public, she takes to radio to explain why she felt bullied by the media and disrespected by Cardi.
“I kind of felt ambushed. This really, really hurt me because I really fully supported [Cardi].”
They appear to be finding common ground and making peace at the Met Gala.
In an interview with Howard Stern, Cardi explains: “I never was feuding with anybody, there was a misunderstanding… The thing is, it’s always little issues, but you know, fans are always gonna make it a big thing.”
Just as we start to think all is good in female hiphop, Nicki Minaj’s new album drops with countless subs and disses that sound as though they are directed at Cardi B. These subs address concerns she has expressed before about Cardi, including:
- Cardi’s aesthetic is an exact replica of hers
- Cardi’s raps are written by other men
- Cardi’s career has been curated by Atlantic Records for the sole purpose of “de-throning” Nicki.
Fans reach out to Cardi through social media for comments on the subs. Cardi does not respond.
Nicki continues to promote her album in interviews and she speaks candidly on how she no longer cares for compromising herself by forcing peace with Cardi because artists like Cardi rely on the record label to make her music good.
“It’s silly to compare me to other female rappers.”
After weeks of silence from Cardi regarding all of Nicki’s comments, they are scheduled to attend the same event at New York Fashion Week. Cardi finally reveals her stance on the matter, by taking her earrings off and charging directly at Nicki Minaj. Video footage is released of Cardi being restrained by security whilst she repeatedly yells, launching her shoe at Nicki.
Since this explosion, both women have taken full control of their beef by yelling at each other on public platforms, verbally attacking each other’s character. Suddenly, the tone of the public has changed. The main stance on social media now is that they should be keeping their composure, as fans fail to consider the role “we” have played in this disaster.
These powerful and heavily influential women are still just human beings who were manipulated into fighting each other instead of working together. Fans should assume a little bit of responsibility for pushing them in this direction. At the expense of not just their emotional/mental health, but also their music. Perhaps if Nicki’s focus wasn’t solely about competing with Cardi, her album would have had more mature, diverse and dynamic content. If we allow for two women in hiphop to be equally successful without pitting them against each other, we may benefit by receiving content with more substance.
Let’s stop accepting cheap entertainment at the expense of our culture. Let’s demand respect for hiphop. If we don’t respect ourselves, who will?
by Zani Tsabedze