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Thursday, June 21, 2012

How Come Nicki Minaj's Starships isn't hip-hop?

So I was thinking about this after the whole Hot 97 thing. Why is it that Nicki Minaj feels the heat for doing so much pop and crossover music from some members of the hip-hop community? This little concept further intensified while I was watching some video from the musical duo 'Karmin' who crossed over for doing covers and especially for their rendition of Chris Brown's "Look at Me Now" and the lead singer's ability to rap along to all of the songs verses especially the Busta Rhymes one.



Some people hate on these two because they think they are profiting but that's what everyone is doing now right? Getting in on the trend, it's not really their fault it was crazy because she didn't look like she would be able to do this song in that manner and they have parlayed that into their own record deal. Here's the thing, since they have signed, pretty much all of their songs involve Amy rapping in some way. Just check out their lead single "Brokenhearted".



Now Nicki Minaj we know has crossed over from just hip-hop to the pop realm, but I would say the biggest problem is that "Starships" just isn't that great of a song and doesn't stand out amongst even that genre, while "Broken Hearted" has a more natural feel and doesn't seem as processed. Does Nicki have pop songs that can pass more naturally? Yes she does, but unfortunately her lead single sounded like something that missed the cut on Katy Perry's album.

The other problem for Nicki is that we know she can spit. She started out in the public eye spitting. Go back to the smack dvd's and the warning video when she was straight New York rap. The heir to the Foxy Brown/Lil kim throne. She took that credibility, went down South, switched up some things, some of which are better, some are worse, but she made herself even more outstanding by being different with her cadence and look. The thing is, we expect more of her when she is putting a rap verse into a song. We want at the very least that reason I listened through the entire "By My Side" to be the tightest possible and validate it. The cop outs are not acceptable on that front, because we know she gets the culture and the history. She isn't allowed to pretend she hasn't spent those years we know she has reciting Biggie lyrics in her bedroom.



The thing I personally don't like about Nicki and Chris Brown is that they sort of have an attitude that when someone questions them specifically about hip-hop, or questions their capability in the genre, they get irritated but they haven't really proven anything. If Jay-z suddenly wanted to do a singing album because he had accomplished everything he could do in hip-hop, it would make sense if only for that reason. You can't question his rap credibility. If LL decides he wants to do a house album, you'd say ok. Hell, Wayne did a wack ass rock album but at least he's been around 12 years, he can dabble in other genres. Kanye did a lame auto tune album but he can do that, he makes certified classics no matter how much I don't like his attitude. You're just getting into the game for the most part getting recognition, you aren't a legend yet. It sort of like a guy going into the NBA writing a hall of fame speech, talking trash and he hasn't won a title yet.

I consider that line jumping, or putting the cart before the horse. However you phrase it, you have to get to the peak of the mountain or top of your field and craft before you start focusing your energy elsewhere. If you do want to do other things, don't be mad when people question your dedication. I have no problem with Nicki deciding that she wants to do an album that is mostly pop, but the standard for her, beginning more as a hip-hop artist is that her people, those of us who still listen to and like rap and rappers need to hear those vicious bars we know she is capable of. Besides, she doesn't need to sell out completely just yet, they are taking her style and applying it to Amy of Karmin anyway.



Quickly, why don't I hold Karmin to the same standard as Nicki? Because they sort of stumbled onto this during their covers and the label figured out how to capitalize. They pretty much watered down the Nicki rap cadence and expressions and applied them to Amy like it was photoshop. but we all know this isn't really 'her' in that sense where she came in trying to be a rapper, She and her fiance are musicians who went to school for arts, and while this isn't saying Nicki isn't an artist per se, this duo was coming in to sing some upbeat music. Has the label influenced Nicki, sure has, but we know she can rap and that in the end is going to be the big difference. Just like B.O.B. puts some work behind his rap bars in his similar songs, and Andre 3000, they put so much effort into their verses to remind you at no point have they lost it. At the end of the day it seems, everyone who is multi-talented and who raps and sings, is going to end up constantly having to prove to the public (in hip-hop) that they still have their incredible rap skills. Can you blame us for not getting enough of good rappers when we're inundated with Waka flakas?

 Couldn't Help Myself

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