In case you are under a rock or not at all involved in pop culture — There is a huge beef between industry incumbent, Nicki Minaj, and a relative newcomer to popularity, Cardi B.

Nicki is on the left. Cardi is on the right.

Here are some of the latest headlines:

There are a few things that I wish people understood about the cultures behind these artists. But just in case you don’t plan on reading to the end, I can tell you right now, Herstun wants them both and the culture needs them both. Facts.

“Roxanne, Roxanne” — First album featuring a woman rapping. Roxanne Chante, the rapper featured, was 14 years old when the album came out.

Women have been fighting for a corner of the hip-hop industry since it’s inception. MC Lyte pioneered the scene for rapping and discjokeying women. She was joined by artists like Queen Latifah, Yoland “Yo-Yo” Whittaker, and laterSalt n’ Pepa.

Ok. Now that we are caught up. People. Please understand that we can have more than one queen of hip-hop. We can have more than black woman in charge. We can have more than one black woman at a time be. the. shit.

Dame las dos.

Nicki Minaj goes hard. The Caribbean rapper hit the scene running as a part of the Young Money crew, the most prolific hip-hop label of the early 2000s. She was handpicked by industry heavyweight, and personal favorite, Weezy F and his crew. (For more information on the dynamic label click here.)

Minaj shouldn’t be confused with the artists I covered in the previous two posts. (Janelle Monae + 6LACK.) While she is fully capable of being poetic, Nicki is a verse killer. Not a poet. She goes in on beats, her words are delivered like sharp weapons, and her production is highlighting every hip in her enunciation. Sis can spit. No doubt.

Nicki Minaj was born in Trinidad and Tobago, moving with her family to Queens, New York when she was five years old. It was a tumultous upbringing and Minaj’s family is ired in drama. Her father was an addict with a long history of violence, attempting to burn the family home down at one point in a plot to kill Minaj’s mother. In 2010 interview with Details Magazine she says “I’ve always had this female-empowerment thing in the back of my mind because I wanted my mother to be stronger, and she couldnt be. I wanted to become successful to change her life.” Minaj made a MySpace, started writing and recording her flows, and performing back-up and hype for local rap artists. She hit the grind.

I love about Nicki what everyone hates, her confidence is sexy as fuck. I am the shit. It is radical in the face of millions of opinions. All around the world people seek to disparage black women in entertainment that choose to love their bodies loudly and speak about sex on the same terms as their male conterparts. Minaj has taken that criticism from day one, and she still sashays.

Kitty on pink, pretty on fleek.
Pretty gang, always keep them niggas on geek.
Ridin’ through Texas, fearin’ for his breakfast.
Everytime I whip it, I be talkin’ so reckless.
He said “Damn Nicki it’s tight, ” I say “Yeah nigga you right.”
He say “Damn, bae, you so little, but you be really takin’ that pipe.”
I say “Yes daddy I do, gimme brain like NYU.”
I said “Teach me, nigga, teach me, all this learnin’ here is by you.”
I’m whippin’ that work, he diggin’ that work.
Cookin’ up the base, lookin’ like a kilo.
He just wanna taste, buildin’ up my ego.
Ego, ego, ego, ego, ego, ego, ego, ego.
Ridin’ through Texas, smokin’ all off.
Talkin’ bout that high-grade, baby hold up.
I can heal your migraine.
Bitches ain’t got punchlines or flow.
I have both and an empire also.
He gettin’ gifts from Santa Claus at the North Pole.
Today I’m icy, but I’m prayin’ for some more snow.
Let that ho ho, let that ho know, he in love with that coco.
Why these bitches don’t never be learnin’.
You bitches will never get what I be earnin’.
I’m still gettin’ plaques, from my records that’s urban.
Ain’t gotta rely on top 40.
I am a rap legend, just go ask the kings of rap.
Who is the queen and things of that.
Nature, look at my finger, that is a glacier, hits like a lazer.
Trippin’ on that work, trippin’ off that purp.
Flippin’ up my skirt and I be whippin’ all that work.
Takin’ trips with all them ki’s, car keys got b’s.
Stingin’ with the Queen B and we be whippin’ all that D.
Cause we dope girls we flawless, we the poster girls for all this.
We run around with them ballers, only real niggas on my call list.
I’m the big kahuna, go let them whores know.
Just on this song alone, bitch is on her fourth flow.

“Feeling Myself”– performed by Nicki Minaj, written by a team including Shakur Thomas and Beyonce Knowles

Nicki Minaj is an important part of black culture. American blackness has a way of absorbing blackness from other diasporas. Minaj is a Caribbean immigrant, not as directly descendant of the United States system of slavery as someone like me (to our knowledge). She is a unique piece of our history and her success should be celebrated by everyone. Little girls in Latvia are shaking their butts and giggling to Superbass as we speak.

Immmigration of black peoples to America in the last hundred years has had a detrimental effect on unity within the black community. We aren’t educated enough about each other. The result is anger, ignorance, and dismay that the world appears to perceive us as the same. Enter Cardi B. Another black, femme rapper that appears to be on a mission.

Dame las dos.

Nicki Minaj is the better writer hands down. She has writing and arrangment credits on over 40 songs when compared to Cardi’s one writing credit (a verse she wrote for a feature in a Maroon 5 song at that.) But where Minaj is the wordsmith, Cardi is a budding fashion icon. Homegirl knows how to present herself. Facts.

Cardi’s mom is Colombian, father Trinidadian. Minaj was born in Trinidad.

Cardi B was born Belcalis Almanzar in the Bronx, New York to a Trinidadian father and Colombian mother. She speaks openly about the poverty she faced, dropping out of school and joining a gang, how stripping gave her a new lease on life, and the courage to pursue her dreams of celebrity. Her early family life appears a bit more stable than Nicki’s because of close relationships with her sister and mother.

Cardi is an afrolatina. I love that word. It is so rich with truth. The trade in black bodies affected every single country in the near vicinity of the United States. African genes are dispersed haphazardly throughout Latin America. The United States and its Hollywood machine have created a monolith of blackness and Cardi comes glittering to the top defying it all.

When I look at Cardi’s Apple Essential Playlist, the Latin influence is so strong. She is day to Nicki’s night. Where Nick is going in, Cardi is chilling back. When Minaj is going for your throat, Cardi is slipping you the poison while smiling. To make up for her lack of writing, Cardi has mastered delivery. She has taken her personality and projected it fully into the delivery of her rhymes.

He say he wanna touch it, and tease it, and squeeze it.
While my piggy bank is hungry, my nigga, you need to feed it.
If the text ain’t freaky, I don’t wanna read it.
And just to let you know this punani is undefeated.
He say he really want to see me more.
I said we should have a date, where? At the Lamborghini store.
I’m kinda scary, hard to read, I’m like a ouija board.
But I’ma boss, bitch, who you gonna leave me for?
You hoes got no class, you bitches is broke still.
I’ll be talkin’ cash while I’m poppin’ my gold grill.
I’m a hoe, rich bitch and I work like I’m broke still.
But they love be so fake, but they hate be so real.
El booty sobresale de mi traje.
No traje pantiesito pa’ que el nene no trabaje.
Es que yo me sé lo que tú cree que tú no sabe
Dice que no quiere pero se quiere comer el equipaje

“Taki Taki” — performed by DJ Snake & Cardi B, written by team including DJ Snake and Selena Gomez

One of the problems with consumers feeling like they have to choose is Cardi’s versatility. Minaj has stayed in her rap genre for the most part, having some huge crossover pop success, but that’s about it. Cardi is rapping in Spanish in a country that finds itself more Latin everyday. The Latinization of America has effected the black community too. It’s given Cardi depth and flavor that is refreshing. She already has two hit singles with Puerto Rican pop-star Bruno Mars.

Cardi also gets songs that sound so much like Nicki’s trademark style. While I consider Cardi my smoother killer, songs like “Money” and “Bartier Cardi” appeal to Minaj’s fanbase sound-wise. In my opinoin, these two could make a beautiful duo. A match made in some African diasporic heaven that keeps dropping off talented jewels for Western consumption. As you consume them, remember that they both represent a piece of the American black experience.

They represent my people. Never forget that we worldwide. Bigger than your neighborhood. Larger than your half of your city. Grander than the ideas you have about your own individual blackness. More complicated than any book written by your imperial government or your national leadership. More languages than could be indentified transversing shades from night to bright. They are my people. These women are my people. I’m going to cheer for them both.

Dame Las Dos. Por Favor.

#LetsGrow

Credits

Dedicated to radical, all-encompassing unity.
curated by w.d. herstun
Allmusic.com is a great source for looking up older artists with long histories. They include information like discography, biography, and all credits.
https://www.hotnewhiphop.com
biography.com on Nicki Minaj
biography.com on Cardi B
Vogue Magazine
Apple Music as always, on the lyrics and playlists.
Artist photos courtesy of their respective Instagram pages.
I am not going to link you guys up with info on how to reach them. Together they command over 140 million Instagram followers. Two black women from New York. Fucking fabulous.

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