Are you offended by this image above? Or the controversial ‘Anaconda’ image that was widely circulated by the media because it featured Nicki Minaj wearing a pink thong with her rear to the camera? By now it’s no secret that everything Nicki Minaj does causes a stir. She doesn’t like to produce anything grey. It’s either black or white, and critics and fans alike have become accustomed to her polarizing brand of imagery, music and messages.
In an interview with V Magazine Nicki lays it down straight like the boss lady she is, and clear up any confusion for people who think it is all for show. First up, she wants y’all to know that her overall message is about female empowerment. It may look like the different type of female empowerment message that we’re all used to, but staying mediocre is not the way Ms. Minaj likes to get a message across. Case in point, her Anaconda music video which she recently told GQ magazine that although she didn’t expect the huge attention given to the photo and the song, there was a subtle hidden message about going against the dominant cultural view of femininity and sexuality.
“I’m chopping up the banana. Did you realize that?”
What? What banana?
In the “Anaconda” video, she says. “At first I’m being sexual with the banana, and then it’s like, ‘Ha-ha, no.’ ” I ask if she’s referring to how the Drake scene immediately follows the kitchen scene. “Yeah, that was important for us to show in the kitchen scene, because it’s always about the female taking back the power, and if you want to be flirty and funny that’s fine, but always keeping the power and the control in everything.”
To V magazine she expands a little to say her brand of female empowerment is showing other women how they can take back the power of their own lives and change that cultural status quo.
“I always feel it’s important for me to show females that they can be in charge of their own situation. I came into the game creating my own brand. I was doing things very early on that set me apart from people who just took orders and allowed their brand to be created for them. I love women who take control, who set standards, and who believe in themselves enough to lead the way in terms of their career. I’ve done that.” she said.
“When I win and when I lose, I take ownership of it, because I really am in charge of what I do. There are a lot of strong male rappers, who’ve influenced me a great deal in terms of my skill, my flow, and my business-savvy side. But at the end of the day, I still want to inspire women.”
She talks about her album Pinkprint and the natural evolution of her style over the years saying she’s “done the crazy outfits” and has refined her look.
“The name of the record is obviously derived from Jay Z’s The Blueprint, which is something scaled back and getting down to the essence of how things are built. I’ve stripped myself down. You’re seeing me, you’re seeing my face, you’re seeing my hair…you’re seeing my soul!”
As for her music, there’s nothing stripped down about that, because she will never release anything that doesn’t have a message.
” No matter who I’m on a song with, I feel like I have to say at least one thing that no one else is willing to say. Whether it’s Madonna or Britney or Beyoncé, they always tell me, ‘YES. Be yourself. Talk your shit.’ There’s nothing wrong with speaking my mind, as long as when the song cuts off I’m still a businesswoman and I still respect myself. That’s where the true balance lies in my life. Women should be allowed to be as hardcore and sexual as we want, because men do it all the time.”
A-ha! Now we’re getting a little more into the depth of her message about female empowerment, the double standards part. This couldn’t be more evident by the reaction to the Anaconda video. Let’s be honest, y’all had your thoughts!
“If a man did the same video with sexy women in it, no one would care. You’re talking about news people who don’t even know anything about hip-hop culture. It’s so disrespectful for them to even comment on something they have no idea about. They don’t say anything when they’re watching the Victoria’s Secret show and seeing boobs and thongs all day. Why? Shame on them. Shame on them for commenting on “Anaconda” and not commenting on the rest of the over-sexualized business we’re a part of. ”
If you didn’t respect her before, there’s no denying she is on the money with that quote. She has made subtle mention to the double standards not only between men and women, but the segregation that often happens amongst women, when she posted this shot on Instagram basically asking all the haters why her shot is so controversial.
“When I put out the artwork for “Anaconda,” I didn’t plan on doing anything like that. I haven’t put out a picture like that in five years, probably. And I was thinking to myself, Why have I stopped doing certain things? Whose approval do I need? Some man in a suit telling you the weather? Why? We all live in this world where we won’t do something because of how “they” will talk about us on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook. Are people going to laugh or are they going to diss us? It’s disgusting!”
“We are not ourselves anymore. We’re so afraid of what’s going to happen on social media that we’ve been robbed of our free spirit! You know what I mean? We’re all so nervous, it’s like we’re living life for people who don’t even fucking matter! I see people who I know who put out pictures on Instagram based on a lie because they want the approval of some 14-year-old in Wisconsin. It’s insane! What happened? What happened to when artists were just artists and they brought you into their world? They didn’t have to worry about a bunch of people on Twitter voicing their opinions,” she says before adding one final thought about the controversial single.
“That’s what I love about Anaconda. Fuck showing your ass or being sexy. What I love about Anaconda is that I told the whole industry to go fuck themselves.”
Aside from the message about sexualization, Nicki says its important for her as a rapper to stand high and above all the others, not to compete but to show all the naysayers that women belong in this industry. Nicki is essentially making it a hell of a lot easier for all the other Nicki’s who come after her, by telling the music industry there’s no need to put her in a special gender category. She’s been outspoken in the past about not being called a “great female rapper” because she has proven herself that she can achieve whatever a guy rapper can lay down. And then some.
“I talk about record executives telling me, “Oh no no no. Female rappers don’t make it anymore. You’ll never get away with that, and you’ll damn sure never get away with rapping and singing.” People who I loved very much attempted to deter me from experimenting with my craft, but I felt I represented all kinds of girls, not just one girl. I am from the hood, I really did grow up like that, and it’s not a fabricated story. But even within the hood I had dreams to get out and grow as an artist, as a human being, and as a woman. I never want to place limits on the intelligence of my fans.”
And if you are still in doubt about her message to empower women, then an insight into how she advocates sisterhood might get you across the line.
“I have the same friends that I had when I was 16, and I thank God that in the fakest world I could have chosen to be in, I have the realest friends and family in my life. These girls were there for me when I did not have a dollar to my name. They were there for me when I needed my girlfriend to cosign on an apartment for me, when I needed cash, or needed a ride somewhere, and they’re still here today. I haven’t made any strong girlfriends in the industry. I’m anti new friends, in a way, because you just never know. So if you have real friends, cherish them.”
So it turns out the rest of “my Anaconda don’t…” was basically meant to be “don’t subscribe to cultural norms that hold women back or put them in special categories.”
You don’t have to be her biggest fan, but there’s no denying the power of a message that is brought to the forefront of pop culture in a controversial way. Hey, if everyone’s talking about it, she must be doing something right.
Keep on with your badass self Nicki!