Explain A Like I Am B: Toni Morrison and Nicki Minaj

During a staff meeting several weeks ago, one of the writers (Naomi Spungen) told The Quad about a new subreddit called  explainlikeIAmA. In it, you are able to chose a subject matter and explain it to a person or thing, in a way for which they will understand. The following piece is based off this reddit, in which the subject matter and explanation recipient will switch places. The subjects for today: rapper Nicki Minaj and Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison. 

Explaining Nicki Minaj to Toni Morrison

First off, Mrs. Morrison, after researching you and reading up on you, I am impressed. I have truly enjoyed your work. More to the point, allow me to now tell you a story—the story of a young Afro-Caribbean American woman who has gained the attention of the country, for better or worst. This is Nicki Minaj.

Born Onika Tanya Manaj, in either 1982 or 1984 (there is a lot of discrepancy), Ms. Minaj is from the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. After living there for several years, Minaj and her family moved to New York City, settling in the borough of Queens.

Nicki Minaj | Photo courtesy of hnnssy25 via Wiki Commons
Nicki Minaj | Photo courtesy of hnnssy25 via Wikimedia Commons

Fellow rapper Lil Wayne would discover Minaj in 2009, signing her to his vanity label Young Money. This was after years of hard work releasing locally distributed albums, or mixtapes. From there, Minaj quickly used her linguistically talented mind to rise through the ranks of rap’s elite, with features on songs like Kanye West’s 2010 “Monster,” where she rhymed, “Forget Barbie, fuck Nicki cause she’s fake/She’s on a diet but her pockets eating cheesecake.” The release of her 2010 debut Pink Friday gained her critical acclaim and a multitude of fans worldwide. In 2012, she released her second album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, which was not as acclaimed but was well received for its poppy and contemporary sound.

Minaj is a polarizing figure in the eyes of the public because of not only her lyrical content, but also her diverging public personality. She is known for her alter egos, including “Roman Zolanski,” for which she uses a British accent to channel. There are her outlandish costumes, complete with wigs, to trump up her image of being a Barbie. In addition, there was her wishy-washy stance on being bisexual. This is all in the effort of her being a part of the commercial machine—endorsements with companies like Pepsi and MAC Cosmetics have come with her fame.

Still, though she has become a role model for many young black girls around the world. She is seen as a successful young black woman or as a figure of controversy and scandal. Both allow her to infiltrate the minds of the masses to deliver a message, but again–she’s hard to predict. Who knows what that message will be.

Explaining Toni Morrison to Nicki Minaj

Toni Morrison | Photo courtesy of Entheta via Wikimedia Commons
Toni Morrison | Photo courtesy of Entheta via Wikimedia Commons

Nicki, how do I explain Toni Morrison to you? There are a myriad of ways. Think about her like this—she’s better than you.

Now, I know this will throw you for a loop, but then again she just is. I mean, do you have a Nobel Prize or Pulitzer Prize? No? Well then, this is getting easy.

In one song, “Stupid Hoe,” you berate rival Lil Kim for an entire song, in which you constantly call her a stupid hoe, a monkey and other disparaging words. Morrison wouldn’t be in favor of this stance again Kim for several reasons. For one, the use of the word “monkey” to describe another African American is disrespectful on levels other than just comparing her to an animal. This is a woman who lived through the Civil Rights Era?

Also, remember, she set the standard for Bill Clinton being this country’s first black president. We all know you voted for Romney, so we know the two of you wouldn’t agree on political opinions.

Morrison has degrees on top of degrees. She has been educated at Howard and Cornell and taught at Yale and Bard. She is considered one of the best African American writers for her depth of subject, some of which is autobiographical.

In other words, she’s the shit. She really is. Morrison is a brilliant artist with a pen, but not the same pen as you, Ms. Minaj. Or am I talking with Roman? Either way, Morrison set a standard, which others are trying to achieve. Like yourself—you are considered the top in your field. Other female MCs are trying to achieve the peaks which you have set. They are trying to poke holes at your crown, but I digress.

Remember how this started with Morrison being better than you? Well, that’s a challenge. Try to reach her crown, now.

3 Comments on “Explain A Like I Am B: Toni Morrison and Nicki Minaj”

  1. First of all….. the fact that you’re comparing Nicki Minaj to Toni Morrison is historical to me. And this is coming from a die hard Nicki fan but allow to me explain . . .

    I hate when people are so focused on the negatives but they forget the little positives. You fail to mention in your article that Nicki Minaj attended and graduated from one of the top high schools in the country LaGuardia. In addition to that, she graduation with honors and was a theater major. That was her first love. So that’s where the characters come from…..in addition to that she had it pretty rough growing up so again that is where the characters coming from. Nicki Minaj IS HIP HOP but she’s also an entertainer like you said you never know what she’s going to do next. She knows how to hold peoples attention that’s one of the reasons why she has gain so much success people are fascinated with her.

    Okay so she doesn’t have a Nobel Peace Prize? Okay? Your point is??? Again, she’s a rapper ??? Toni Morrison is an author and activist. So uhmmm of course?

    Third of all, I hate when people use Stupid Hoe to judge her off from. You also mention how its disrespectful that she called Lil Kim a monkey. So I guess it wasn’t disrespectful when Lil Kim made several diss records about Nicki? I guess it wasn’t disrespectful when Lil Kim made a mixtape with several diss songs about Nicki.? I hate the fact that women in hip hop always gotta beef with each other. When some of the guys in the music industry can get a long just fine.

    Your article is completely biased. I can go on and on and on all day . . . . but yeah it’s completely biased its unfair that your comparing a rapper and an author makes no sense. And I never heard Nicki disrespect Ms. Morrison ever.

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