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Beauty and the beast: Reflections on Nicki's complicated legacy
What is still fueling this beef with Cardi B, and where do we go from here?
I originally drafted this post a day or two after the MTV VMAs premiered, but I’m quite relieved I waited to write some more.
This week, bloggers and news outlets reported Kenneth "Zoo" Petty’s threats directed at Cardi B and Offset. Petty is a convicted rapist and murderer, and also the apparent true love of Nicki Minaj. Many view Petty's threats as a retaliation to the long-standing beef between Cardi B and Nicki Minaj. The optics of everything and everyone looks bad, but especially for Nicki.
“Plan that vacation, you gonna be planning your funeral pussy!” -Kenneth Petty in viral social media video
While there are a lot of media narratives around Onika Tanya Maraj, nothing has been more authenticated than her relationships with questionable men, and the drama that often ensues.
The not-so-endearing roster
"I ain't even gonna front like I never watch your show. And I'm still your biggest fan and I don't need a front row. Yeah I know I'm not perfect, you was payin' all the bills. You remember what you told me when you wasn't on the pills?" - Safaree, Love The Most
It’s glum to think Safaree Samuels might be the least problematic one on this list. For the most part, he played his role appropriately. Safaree remained the dutiful and unemployed boyfriend of Minaj during her come-up and rise. There are rumors about more intense stuff behind the scenes like cheating and stolen credit cards. Minaj talked intimately about the relationship only in her songs, rare interviews, and X(formerly Twitter) outbursts.
Considering hip-hop’s heteropatriarchy, Nicki’s initial downplay of the relationship placed Safaree in an awkward predicament. Mocked for being corny and not "man enough," a common theme as you venture down the list. After the breakup, Saferee would go on a shitstorm media campaign. Now you can catch Safaree Samuels and his well-endowed package on some Love & Hip Hop specials.
“So when you see me out don't ask me about no Nicki / Fuck I look like tellin' my business on Wendy.” - Meek Mill, 1942 Flows
What an era. The looks and power couple dates that came from this relationship inspired the contemporary rap "it" couple we see today (Quavo & Saweetie, Cardi & Offset, etc.) We have to give Nicki credit for trying something new this round. Instead of going with a background character, she picked a credible and buzzing rapper. Artistically wise, the pair worked well, but the relationship had drama and trauma from the start.
Who can forget Meek Mill's crew altercation with Safaree at the 2017 BET Awards? His possessiveness of Minaj and insecurities around his career led to an infamous beef with Drake. Both Nicki Minaj and Drake have never explicitly confirmed if their work and personal relationship crossed that line, but they did flirt A LOT. Meek Mill's masculinity and ego were ridiculed during this ordeal.
Outwardly Nicki Minaj supported Meek Mill and their relationship, but once things ended it got pretty bad. She accused Meek of domestic abuse, and the two almost had a physical altercation with Minaj's current partner Kenneth Petty in 2020. Since then he’s done some weird stuff, but things seem calmer now.
Somewhere on the internet, I once argued against the phrase and campaign of “female rap unity”. My argument influenced by British Youtuber and female rap commentator Blessing Mukosha. Admittedly a “barb”, she has done some insightful stuff on Nicki Minaj and the female rap space. She talked about this topic in “Why I HATE the Female Rap Unity Narrative” in 2020.
For me, the blanket term required a lot of stipulations for female rappers, while ignoring the main culprits of misogyny in hip-hop. Particularly forcing these women to uplift themselves and others, despite rap being a very patriarchal genre. A genre that continuously neglects their legacies, despite the contribution of many Black women in hip-hop. In light of the VMAs and Kenneth Petty's threats, maybe I was wrong.
What started as a clear-cut beef between two competitors has gotten more personal and sinister. The simplest scapegoats are the men, but both Nicki Minaj and Cardi B are culpable. For such feminist and "boss b*tch" personas, both women have pick-me tendencies. In 2022, Cardi B pleaded guilty to a 2018 strip club assault on two women. She believed one of the women had slept with her husband Offset.
As for Nicki, some accountability is desperately needed and overdue.