By 2012′s Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, Minaj was a crossover sensation who had sat next to Anna Wintour at New York Fashion Week. She was not the first rapper to do so — that would be Diddy — by any means, but in Roman Reloaded she turned her id loose to unleash both manic snap raps and Europop hooks. Like the paint splattered on the cover art, the dueling pop and rap expectations surrounding Minaj had collided to the point of no return.
A lot of rap crossover sensations (B.o.B., T.I., Eminem) complain of but also comply to those sorts of things, while Minaj made very clear that she created that bold, brash and brilliant mess herself.
How can Minaj top that in her next album? Based on her Power 105.1 interview, she still faces a uniquely frustrating set of expectations. She shushes host Charlamagne Tha God as he mentions her American Idol stint and the word “pop” (“Oh my, that’s the forbidden word”), then nearly screeches as she defends her pop and rap-driven success, emphasis on the rap. “Why [Charlamagne Tha] God always got to be acting like I stopped rapping?” she says. “Like, did I stop and have babies or something? Because I’ve been rapping for the past five years, consecutively.”
While Minaj’s banishment of the word “pop” does not help things (own it!), her mention of babies is pointed and crucial.
When B.o.B. visited The Breakfast Club earlier this year, Charlamagne Tha God encouraged him at length to not get too “urban” if he wants to be invited to the White House, to maintain the crossover success that “Airplanes” and “Nothin’ on You” had launched – or, the sort of success that Minaj has earned as well. “I like to see you go from doing records like ‘Haterz [Everywhere]‘ to being invited to the White House and coming down with Taylor Swift, because I’m trying to sell out,” the host said to B.o.B.
By now, it’s “okay” for a male rapper to do a song with Swift. Meanwhile, a female rapper who was boosted to pop-star status with help from Swift — she still has to “prove” herself as a rapper even with some of the game’s best verses, period. Such hypocrisy can be frustrating to watch.
So while Minaj still has to finish her new album, here’s to hoping that she lashes out on such double standards even more violently than she did in Roman Reloaded.