Earlier this month, Nicki Minaj released her fourth studio album, “Queen” and ever since, she has maintained a stable position in the headlines of every major music publication. Some critics loved the album while others were disappointed, but the chaos around its release (a few rescheduled debut dates, controversial lyrics, and arguments with fans) have soured the taste of “Queen” in many music lovers’ mouths. Although Minaj’s music, style, and/or persona is not suited for everyone, there are lessons we can all take from her no-holds-barred attitude. The music industry is inundated with men and the hip hop genre, in particular, is known to be an overtly male-dominated space. Nicki Minaj’s triumph as a female-identifying rapper is already a revolutionary act, and in order to attain her prestigious position as the “queen of rap,” she has had to break a few rules. I am a huge advocate of the phrase “rules were meant to be broken,” not because I oppose authority, but because I recognize that some rules are not meant to protect but to restrain. Here are some lessons we can learn and apply from Nicki Minaj’s “Queen” and her ultimate badass attitude:
Being Feminine Can Be A Superpower
As Nicki Minaj evolves as an artist, so does her style. Her introduction to mainstream media came by way of fluorescent rainbow-colored wigs and eccentric outfits that resembled cotton candy. Now, several years later, the rap mogul opts for a more chic, edgy, and seductive style often donning floor length straight wigs and extremely tight bodices. Through it all, Minaj has never tried to downplay her femininity, curvy body shape, and love of beauty. When one is surrounded by men as often as we can assume Ms. Minaj to be, it may seem necessary to tone down these aspects of your style or demeanor. Many women may fear that they will not be taken as seriously if they dress in traditionally “feminine” clothing or makeup. Minaj seems to have thrown this worry out the window and has no problem being the best dressed and biggest boss in the room.
Take Your Time And Act On Your Own Terms
While I do believe that the controversy surrounding the release date of “Queen” was warranted, I also think there is something to be said of a woman making a big decision on her own time frame. For those that do not know, the original release date for the highly anticipated album was pushed back multiple times. Finally, the date August 17th was settled on and finalized, but Minaj still decided to release the project a week early on August 10th. This left many confused but took absolutely nothing away from the immediate success or positive reception of the album. If anything, fans like myself woke up that morning to the best surprise! Minaj’s willingness to succeed on her own terms is incredibly inspiring and could help inform many of our everyday decisions as well. So often, we face the pressure of time crunch weighing down on our shoulders and this pressure turns whatever project we are working on into a burden or chore, rather than an enjoyable task. In order to avoid this, take a second to breathe, slow down, realize that everything you need to get done, will get done, and you have the right to do it on your own terms!
Don’t Just Think Outside The Box, Leave The Box Behind
“Queen” represents Minaj’s most eclectic album to date. Listening through, each track represents a myriad of genres, flows, and poetic styles. A rapper without Minaj’s fearlessness may have shied away from including so many different sounds in one body of work, but Minaj knows that stepping outside of the box is what helps you stand out. Because female rappers are such a rarity in the music industry, they usually face a lot of pressure to be as perfect as possible. While Minaj is known to be a perfectionist, her definition of this word does not revolve around maintaining the status quo. Rather, she does everything in her power to ensure that listeners are given an experience they have never heard before. She doesn't just think outside of the box, she leaves the box entirely behind and is setting a precedent for the next generation of movers and shakers to do the same.
The Truth Will Set You Free
One of the most tweeted and talked about songs on Minaj’s album is a track titled “Barbie Dreams.” In it, Minaj outs many of her male counterparts in the music industry with a series of sharp-tongued disses. She is unapologetically honest and unafraid to give her opinion not only on the issues she faces in the industry but the people that are making it that much harder for her. One of the first things we are taught in society is to keep our mouths shut when it comes to unpleasant truths. Women, in particular, are expected to remain “hush-hush” around topics like money, misogyny, success, and sex, all of which Minaj raps about extensively. Unfortunately, this silencing can actually do more harm than good. While Minaj’s lyrics can be hysterically raunchy, they also manage to call out the double standards that exist in the hip-hop industry and remind women that it’s okay to speak freely about the challenges they are facing every single day.