As much as the Grammys have tried to snub Hip-Hop every chance it gets, the awards show has managed to provide some pretty unforgettable rap moments. There was Eminem's performance with Elton John, Lauryn Hill winning seemingly every Grammy besides Country Duet in 1998, Lil Wayne representing for New Orleans a few years ago and the unforgettable “Swagger Like Us” showcase that stole the show.
Nicki Minaj's exorcism fiasco was not one of those great moments. There was some sort of bizarre pre-performance video that knocked off the Exorcist—which has only been done about 6,493 times—followed by some dancing and quizzical S&M bondage thing. Of course, this all happened after she walked the red carpet in some good old-fashioned blasphemous get-up equipped with her own priest. But nothing was more offensive than the song she performed. “Roman Holiday” sounds like a mental breakdown on wax. There's a shot of Nicki screaming while some old guy covers his ears. I was watching my television as that old guy.
"How much of her success is talent and how much is her Barbie'd, blinking, synthetically-built gimmick?"
Later in the show, Adele casually walked on stage and sang. No set designs. No theatrics. She sang her A$$ off. She was the talk of the show and she walked home with the big Grammy prize. There was a clear distinction between talent and gimmicks. And on a national stage like that, the difference is embarrassing for the First Lady of Young Money.
And it's just the latest sign that Nicki is in serious danger of the dreaded sophomore curse.
Nicki Minaj is a talented artist. She's no worse than any other mainstream female MC. She's shown the ability to outrap Jay-Z and Kanye West on “Monster” and make songs like Drake's “Proud Of You” and Big Sean's “Dance (A$$)” better with her presence. Plus, she's definitely an engaging personality. But how much of her success is talent and how much is her Barbie'd, blinking, synthetically-built gimmick?
The answer to that question seldom reveals itself when an artist makes his or her debut. Gimmicks are more than enough to get someone by one hit or a gold album. Just ask Soulja Boy or Gucci Mane. However, it takes talent and creativity to turn that initial success into a career. After the Grammys, I couldn't help but wonder if Minaj made a miscalculation with her performance or if we were seeing someone grasping for straws to cover up a creative lull. Let's not forget, the Grammy performance came on the heels of more failures than Nicki has seen since she said, “Yeah, I really like this ‘Massive Attack' single.”
"The Young Money brain trust is scrambling to revitalize her previous critical acclaim."
First, she thought it'd be a good idea to make her first single a diss record aimed at the floundering and largely irrelevant Lil' Kim. It's odd that Minaj is still entertaining this feud. It's like Jay-Z making his first single a diss aimed at Jaz-O or Mic Geronimo. The decision to aim at Kim is made even more bizarre by the fact that Minaj addressed the Queen Bee on her last album and seemingly put that battle to rest.
As if beating the dead horse of a Lil' Kim feud wasn't enough, Minaj named the song “Stupid Hoe” guaranteeing that it won't be an enjoyable or viable option for the radio. The video, by the increasingly horrid Hype Williams, is far from entertaining. In fact, the clip is reminiscent of her Grammy performance, utilizing a synthetic “weird” factor to cover up a sub-par song and poorly executed treatment.
Nicki Minaj's album is supposed to be released on April 3rd. I highly doubt, with her current lack of momentum, that she'll make that release date and that the Young Money brain trust is scrambling to revitalize her previous critical acclaim.
On second thought; maybe they aren't changing anything. Lil Wayne managed to go platinum after an onslaught of crappy singles and an insomnia-curing mixtape. Drake also tore up the charts without a hit single. Maybe Young Money has found the secret to invincible superstars. Maybe Nicki won't change a thing. And Pink Friday: Roman's Revenge will be an unbearable critical failure…that will go platinum and cement her as an unstoppable rap juggernaut.
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