I came across this video a few days ago, courtesy of @surabbie. It is Nicki Minaj’s Lookin Ass N—ga. I have watched it at least a dozen times, not because she’s oozing some Beyonce-latest-album level sultriness all over the video (although yes, it’s a very hot video), but because those are some killer lines she’s delivering. She isn’t kidding when she pulls out those automatic weapons at the end and starts firing into the sky like an ‘80s action villain.
I love this Nicki Minaj, and I have missed her. I wouldn’t call the Barbie version of her ridiculous, although I did grow tired of it awfully fast. And I wouldn’t call the Satanic Prophetess version of her ridiculous either…
…although that is exactly what it is.
Goddammit, Nicki -____-
I’m sure there was some supposedly great symbolic thing that was going on there, but…meh.
What I do love though, is tough Nicki, and I hope this track will come to mean more than the aesthetic gyrations, butt close-ups and hair flicks we’re treated to in the video. Because this song matters. It addresses an attitude in my fellow men that is dumb at its tamest and, downright fuckery at its worst. Some Youtube commenters have displayed their misconceptions on the message behind this song: they think it is merely looking down on men without money, because they are not ‘real men’.
But what Nicki calls the ‘non-man ass n—ga’ clearly has nothing to do with money, since she points out that she still would have nothing to do with him even if he flew her and all her friends to Dubai. It’s not about money. It’s about attitude. Men who think and act like boys, bragging about what they do not have, lying about who they have slept with, thinking that what they DO have somehow gives them the right to be irresponsible, disrespectful and downright assholes—those are the kind of men Nicki is referring to in her video. And by calling them out, she insults them. Boy, she insults them.
In the video, she shows off her body and her wealth and status, and by putting her reflection in the eyes of the ‘non-man ass n—ga’ she tries to say, “You can look, but you can never have a woman like me, because you are the worst kind of man and don’t even know it.”
Directed at this joker right here. Google Gucci Mane and Nicki Minaj to get the full story.
Now, this video has people mad for other reasons, some more understandable than others. For instance, some guys do not think much of her to begin with, and that she lifts herself up as a kind of unattainable trophy for the ‘non-man ass n—ga’ is presumptuous to them. It really pisses them off.
First of all, I would argue that that’s a narrow way of interpreting the video. Nicki isn’t lifting herself specifically up per se (although, in one dimension, she is. Like I said, google ‘Gucci Mane and Nicki Minaj’). Instead, she is standing in as the industrious talented woman who has made something of herself, and who refuses to have her time wasted and her reputation dragged through the mud by non-man ass n—gas. Even if you do not believe that she is a good enough stand-in for the ideal woman, you cannot dismiss the general concept and message she is trying to deliver i.e. money does not make you a man. Character does.
Second of all…
Not hot? Really guys? What manner of self-deception is that?
The second reason people are making so much noise is because of the number of times she uses the word ‘n—ga’. We could argue about the appropriateness of ever using that word and never end. It is one of those arguments that has no right answer (even though some people would even argue with me about that statement).
But, it is poetry people. Repetition is a tool in poetry, specifically ‘Epistrophe’ which is the purposeful repetition of one word at the end of every clause or sentence to aid the rhyme and more importantly, drive home a point. A lot of skilled rappers use it, whilst choosing instead to rhyme the words that precede the repeated word in every sentence or clause. Therefore, they follow a scheme something like:
An example to better illustrate it is Jay-Z’s repetition of the word ‘cake’ in his feature on Drake’s hit song ‘Pound Cake’.
Cake, cake-cake, cake-cake, cake
500 million, I got a pound cake
N—gas is frontin’, that’s upside-down cake
Get ‘em a red nose, they clown cakes
They shoulda never let you ‘round cake
Look at my neck, I got a carrot cake
Now here’s the icin’ on the cake
Cake, cake-cake, cake-cake, uhh
It’s a great tool in all poetry. In this case, Nicki was provoking a reaction whilst driving home her point. The only real reason it has folks upset is the word itself that she chose to keep repeating. Otherwise, it certainly does not mean that she doesn’t know how to rap, or that she didn’t know what she was doing, or (here is the silliest argument I’ve heard), she was just saying ‘n—ga’ for saying it sake a la Miley Cyrus shenanigans.
Sorry I got all technical. I keep saying that every genre is like a language, and that you need to speak it to completely understand what happens in it. I wanted to write an entry on the Language of Genre, and maybe I will. But for now…
I really like Lookin Ass N—ga. It’s a great song and it’s got some great, hilariously mean lines (as a good rap burn song should). It won’t change the face of hip-hop (did I need to say that?), but hopefully it is an indicator that we’ll see some good Nicki material in the future.
That being said, using Malcolm X on this cover image…
I see what she was trying to do…no, it did not work. It was NOT okay.