Why Nicki Minaj’s New York Times Magazine Interview Matters

If you’re an old hat at this site, then you’ll know I’ve had my fair share of opinions about Nicki Minaj and some of the ways she presents herself. At the risk of sounding like the Respectability Police, the major issue I have with things like Anaconda is that it still exists within the realm of patriarchy and exoticism while supposedly being an “empowering” thing. But, Minaj gets credit for being right on the money when it comes to cultural appropriation and calling people out who engage in it, including Miley Cyrus. She explained more about why her now-infamous “Miley, what’s good?” call-out means so much to people. 

Minaj was asked about the MTV VMAs moment during her interview with the New York Times Magazine. She said everything I’ve thought and written about in the past about racial appropriation in a very succinct and easy-to-grasp manner:

The fact that you feel upset about me speaking on something that affects black women makes me feel like you have some big balls. You’re in videos with black men, and you’re bringing out black women on your stages, but you don’t want to know how black women feel about something that’s so important? Come on, you can’t want the good without the bad. If you want to enjoy our culture and our lifestyle, bond with us, dance with us, have fun with us, twerk with us, rap with us, then you should also want to know what affects us, what is bothering us, what we feel is unfair to us. You shouldn’t not want to know that.

This is important because up until the “Miley, whats good?” moment, Cyrus was trying to paint Minaj’s annoyance with the VMAs bias towards white women performers as something that a sour grapes loser would say instead of seeing the nuances of what Minaj was talking about. (To refresh, the real backstory of this whole thing comes from Minaj calling out the VMAs for their bias, then having to take on Taylor Swift, who had a case of foot-in-mouth-on-Twitter syndrome. You can read all about it hereMiley then thought it was appropriate for her to throw her two cents into the mix when interviewed in an other magazine.)

Nicki Minaj on the cover of New York Times Magazine
Nicki Minaj on the cover of New York Times Magazine

Just as Minaj said on Twitter during the original VMAs Twitter discussion, it’s par for the course for a black woman’s viewpoint to be considered by others as “angry” or somehow available for belittling. Far be it for someone like Miley to even say something like this, since she’s stolen black culture for her own monetary ends. (One could argue that she’s now doing the same co-opting strategy with LGBT culture, what with prominent RuPaul’s Drag Race drag queens parading behind her during her VMAs hosting stint).

The fact that someone as mainstream as Minaj is bringing light to issues like this is something important; Minaj has legions of fans who hang on her every word, and if she can educate those fans who don’t know about issues like these, that’ll make it much easier for everyone when it comes to changing how we view race and culture in society and in entertainment.

What’s also interesting is how Minaj quickly ended the interview after the interviewer asked her an ill-advised question about if she lives off the drama created from the Meek Mill/Drake feud. The interviewer also tried to provide some context for her question, referencing whatever feud there was between Lil’ Wayne and Birdman. Needless to say, Minaj wasn’t amused.

“That’s disrespectful. Why would a grown-ass woman thirve off drama?…To put down a woman for something that men do, as if they’re children and I’m responsible, has nothing to do with you asking stupid questions, because you know that’s not just a stupid question. That’s a premeditated thing you just did. Do not speak to me like ‘m stupid or beneath you in any way. I don’t care to speak to you anymore.

This is a question I wouldn’t even have asked, since I’d be worried about it. The last thing I’d want to do in an interview is have my interview subject stop talking to me; I want to keep them talking to me. This interview wasn’t a hard-hitting expose or something. I don’t get why some reporters insist on asking questions that aren’t meant for the venue they’re in.

What do you think about Minaj’s comments? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

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Source: VIBE
Nicki Minaj on the cover of New York Times Magazine