I am certainly not a fan of Nicki Manaj or anyone else who uses profanity in their music but it cannot be denied this Trinidadian-born beauty has made a name for herself here in the United States. Onika Tanya Miraj (her given name) came to this country in 1987, at the age of five. She and her mother moved to Queens, N.Y., where she was raised with her siblings.
Minaj often speaks of the violent background she came from because it left an indelible mark on her memory and she was determined not to have the same thing happen in her life. She has recounted the story of her young life many times: Her father was a drug addict and an abuser. He almost killed Minaj’s mother when he set their family home on fire. Minaj vowed she would be an empowered woman unlike her mom.
“Because I wanted my mother to be stronger and she couldn’t be, I thought that becoming successful would allow me to change her life,” she said in an interview with Details Magazine.
As a young girl, she developed various personas for herself in order to get through the more difficult times in her life. In her fantasy world characters like Cookie and Harajuku Barbie helped her to keep her sanity. Maybe that would explain the “I can do what I wanna do” approach she now takes to her music. Songs like “Playtime is Over (2007)” and “Sucka Free (2008)” tell of her tough attitude toward life, while titles like “Beam Me Up Scotty” and “I Get Crazy” speaks to her crazy, emotional side. Maybe she just feels a little out of place in this world.
In looking back through the Trinadadian media coverage of Minaj, the people of the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago were all oozing with enthusiasm to welcome the rising star as their own when she first came on the scene. The articles they wrote had nothing but accolades for the rapper/singer/songwriter. That was until November 2012 when she made a statement, in an interview with the UK Guardian, that 250,000 people were living with AIDS in Trinidad & Tobago and at least 40 percent of teens in the country were not being educated on HIV/AIDS. As a response to this first incident, the Ministry of Tourism for the country, Stephen Cadiz, had to do a public campaign to correct this mis-statement. The citizens of Trinidad were incensed she gave Trinidad a bad name and tourists would not want to visit the island for fear of being infected with HIV.
She struck out again in 2013 with a comment when she was a judge on American idol. After contestant Zoanette Johnson finished her rendition of the Circle of Life, Minaj commended her and said “I’m proud that this place right here gives people like you and me that came from absolutely nothing, from a country that we probably didn’t think we would make it out alive, it gives us a shot.”
I am sure Minaj did not anticipate it would set off such a fire-storm. Once again Tourism Minister Cadiz stepped up and said, “would not comment on the ‘nothing’ place that Minaj said that she came from, since he was not exactly sure of what location she was referring to.”
An Internet blogger defended Minaj’s comment: “She didn’t say anything bad! I’m Trinidadian, I go there every summer. All she means is that Trinidad is not the largest, most successful country in the world. It’s a third world country and 50 [percent] of the time you might see someone make it out big from there. Nicki and this singer on American Idol here represent their homelands in a way where others can understand that it’s difficult to rise from what these places have to offer but they do it anyway.”
With her 2014 release of “Anaconda,” headlines — such as “Nicki Minaj’s ‘Anaconda’ elevates backside wobbling to lifestyle choice”; “Nicki Minaj’s ‘Anaconda’ cover artwork: Too racy for its own good?”; and “Shocked and outraged by Nicki Minaj’s ‘Anaconda’ video? Perhaps you should butt out?” — are just some examples of what you will come across when reading about the rapper.
Is this what she meant by female empowerment? Or is this what she does because sensationalism sells? Whatever the answer is, whether we like her or not, this diva still has a lot of fans cheering her on.