I don’t think Nicki Minaj or Cardi B wanted to be sharing headlines this week. In a week that should be monumental for them both, individually, Nicki Minaj and Cardi B are entangled in a predictable but still frustrating storyline. It’s the easy narrative: the lone chart-topping women in a genre dominated by men released new music in the same 7-day span (like men do all the time) so they must hate each other and want to see each other fail.
As a fan of both Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, I’m exhausted and I’m pissed off by the Cardi vs. Nicki conversation. I would love to just write about the quality of Nicki’s two new singles without having to dissect what it says about the music industry that no one can let two female rappers be great at the same time but it’s more nuanced than that. Cardi B and Nicki Minaj are tied together in a way that is distressing to me but at this point, it’s unavoidable. Yesterday was dubbed #NickiDay to celebrate her new music but, as you know, many of us had already pegged this week as Cardi Week. I knew this sh-t was coming.
When I reviewed Invasion of Privacy, Nicki’s name was not mentioned, as it shouldn’t have been, but Nicki Minaj does not get that same courtesy after dropping her singles Chun-Li and Barbie Tingz because in the interview she gave Zane Lowe about the songs, she was asked to address her rumoured beef with Cardi B. Nicki’s emotional response has now made it impossible to write about her today without delving deep into her relationship with Cardi and the bullsh-t misogyny intrinsically linked to the reception of their relationship.
Both Nicki and Cardi have denied feuding with each other. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of all the times people have thought they were beefing. Each of these times, Nicki and Cardi both denied that there was any issue between them. They even appeared on the song MotorSport together but that song just created even more drama. There were reports that Nicki Minaj cut a Cardi B diss from her verse on MotorSport after Cardi was included on the song. According to Nicki, her issues with Cardi B all go back to that verse.
"When I first came in the game, if a female of [my] stature had done a feature with me on it, I would only be singing their praises and saying thank you… The first interview [Cardi] did after MotorSport came out, it just really hurt me, because she looked so aggravated and angry, and the only thing she kept saying was, 'I didn't hear that, she changed her verse.’
Nicki also said she didn’t appear in the video for MotorSport alongside Cardi because of a genuine scheduling conflict, not because of any bad blood. Nicki goes on to say how “hurt” she was that Cardi B and Migos didn’t give her the respect she felt she deserved.
“They all knew that and still did interviews and jumped around it just to paint Nicki as the bad person so you could play the victim. That really, really, really hurt me because I really supported her… Up until this recent interview that she did, I had never seen her show me genuine love. I could just imagine how many girls wish they could have been on a song with Nicki Minaj. I'm not saying in it a cocky way ... It's because of the Nicki hate train that she felt like she could speak about me in that manner."
This is the point in the interview where Nicki seems to get choked up. This is the point in the interview where I got even more frustrated. The confusion over MotorSport seems like a pretty standard disagreement between colleagues. Also, this:
This thing with Nicki and Cardi seems like a miscommunication magnified by men — proving many men aren’t good for anything besides sex.— Michael Arceneaux (@youngsinick) April 12, 2018
I’m not mad that Nicki wanted Cardi to put some respect on her name (although if I remember correctly Lil Kim accused Nicki of the same thing when she was on the come-up.) What’s frustrating is that all of this just adds to the narrative that Cardi B and Nicki Minaj can’t exist in the same space and get along – or that their individual successes are in any way a detriment to each other. They’re not. In fact, Cardi and Nicki succeeding at the same time is good for business.
Healthy competition is not the same as a feud. The one-upping that goes on between Drake and Kendrick Lamar is not handled in the same way that Cardi and Nicki’s issues are. IF they are competing because they are both ambitious women who want to be the best and IF they do trade a few lyrical jabs at each other, that should be OK. Competition is not a bad thing. Ambition is not a dirty word. Rivalries and beefs are ingrained into hip-hop. But also ingrained in this genre, which is so unforgiving to women and dominated by men, is the perpetuation of the tired stereotype of cat-fighting females. I think Nicki is so fed up of this narrative too that she got emotional talking about it.
I had dinner with my friend and Globe and Mail columnist Denise Balkissoon a couple days ago and we talked about Cardi, Nicki and the frustrations that come with feeling like black women can’t disagree in public. (She also wrote a great piece this week about the reign of women in rap and the misogyny that still exists at the highest levels.) Denise and I talk about this often. As soon as black women start to disagree, we’re pitted against each other. The strength of each of our arguments seem to weaken. If Cardi B and Nicki Minaj are fighting with each other, can they still fight the patriarchal standards in hip-hop that they’re both facing? Or will they be written off as feuding angry black women? Can they still get what they both deserve? The answer should be yes, of course, f-ck yes.
In the past week, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj have had to answer questions about each other and field bullsh-t, tired tropes that are distracting from what we should all be focusing on: the music. As for Nicki’s new singles, I like Chun-Li (even though it’s full of sloppy street fighter references) better than Barbie Tingz but I like them both enough that I’m excited for her album. Nicki Minaj has yet to deliver a full cohesive, classic album. She definitely has it in her. I hope it’s finally time. And that it’s also finally time for two women to release rap’s best albums of 2018.
Attached - Nicki at the Lakers game in LA the other day.