Last Sunday the Super Bowl. This Sunday the wildest, most creative, fiercest Grammy performance in a while. So fierce, so out of the ordinary, Nicki Minaj makes Lady Gaga look supremely normal.
EW dissed Minaj's performance. And that's okay. Homogeneity and its acquiescence have little room in the Minaj mirror. Aside from poking fun at the restricted and repressed Catholic Church, (especially timely considering the Obama Administration's recent birth control riff with Catholic bishops) Minaj's Roman Holiday debut on the Grammy's took a stab at nemesis Lil' Kim, some think.
The blond wig (versus green or pink) and the references to women who diss her work, even though a large majority of Minaj's haters are male, maybe a resurfacing of the Minaj-Lil' Kim beef.
But most viewers are comparing Minaj with the early Madonna and Madonna's open disrespect of the Vatican. Minaj's exorcism video "Roman Holiday" and her alter-ego, (or simply the subject of the record) Roman Zolanski are undeniably clever Minaj gimmicks. A minor stab at accused child molester Roman Polanski, a major stab at a society that insists children conform by looking like everyone else and when they can't fit in, "take your medication, Roman."
Even so, audiences who were around when Madonna first hit the scene think Minaj is worse than Madonna. Madonna danced barefoot in a bra and slip in front of a burning cross and a gospel choir for her “Like A Prayer ” video. Madonna wore lace and rosaries around her neck while bopping on canoes in Venetian canals singing “Like a Virgin.” Other videos, “Justify My Love” offered homosexual sex, orgies, and one-night stands.
But, most note, Madonna never took a Christmas song and inserted it into her gig. Indeed, Minaj does that. Nicki Minaj did that last night on the Grammy’s. In a vamp dress and bare, stocking feet. And for some, her performance was awesome.
“Roman Holiday” protests homogeneity and conformity. Homogeneity, conformity and its uselessness were all Gaga concepts. But Minaj has taken it and fled, rendering Lady Gaga all but useless this year, despite the major commotion "Born This Way" made when it released early in 2011. In the process, Minaj seems to be dwindling her commercial sexuality for commercial oddity, where sex is secondary to selling material (a la Lady Gaga).
Minaj, like Madonna, is throwing a middle finger up at a patriarchal society that dictates how women should dress, talk and behave. Minaj's video, "Stupid Hoe" was banned by BET. A move that prompted hip hop enthusiast Dr. Boyce Watkins to condemn BET's sexism. Watkins advanced his point on the sexism exuded against Minaj by pointing to the many male rappers who've disgraced and degraded women on live BET audiences.
Drake introduced Minaj last night at the Grammys as one of the most intelligent and driven women that he knows. But that's not enough to convince those who don’t like her work and criticize her performances as lacking style, substance or a relevant message.
If Minaj is as strong of a rapper and performer that she appears to be, her haters are her motivators and she'll keep rising.