By Marisa Mendez
The hip-hop industry has had quite a drought in estrogen as of late. Remy Martin is locked up, Foxy Brown has had her fair share of issues, Eve crossed over into acting and never came back, and Kim is busy dancin’ with the “stars.” But Southside Jamaica, Queens looks like it has a cloudy forecast, and just may be providing us with the rain to end the drought….in the form of Young Money Entertainment’s Nicki Minaj.
At 23, this female emcee already holds the coveted “first lady” position on the label of one of the music industry’s biggest stars, Lil Wayne. So what’s all the hype about? Minaj has been honing her skills for years. An alumnus of the famous performing arts high school of FAME notoriety, Nicki is actually not only a skilled rapper, but trained in writing, acting and singing as well. Lending vocals to local acts in her Queens neighborhood garnered the attention of popular DVD magazine The Come Up, providing Nicki with the now infamous segment that caught Lil Wayne’s attention. He quickly courted her to be the only female representer of his Young Money imprint in 2007, and two whirl-wind years later, nearly every record company now has a bid in to this femcee.
With a brand new mixtape, Beam Me Up Scotty, just released, a successful run on Wayne’s I AM Music tour under her belt, and two critically acclaimed mixtapes, Playtime is Over and Sucka Free in the bag…is it safe to say Nicki Minaj is hip-hop’s next big thing? You decide. And while you do, you can read the influences behind the raptress that has the industry buzzing.
“His creativity is I just think really unmatched. I think his ability to stand out in a crowd is unmatched. And I think that he’s one of the only people that still have fun. You know Wayne can say the hottest lines but he’s still having fun with those lines. He’ll make you laugh; he can make you angry wit his raps, he can make you cry. But he’s very versatile I feel. He does the singing and all that stuff and he’s the only one that’s not afraid to venture out and try new things. I think that’s dope.”
“His swag. I don’t think anyone in the WORLD has more swag than Jay. He also is another one that I felt is really, really creative. But I think with Jay he kind of always played his role. Never tried to be someone else, never tried to do anything else but just be Jay-Z…and it works really well for him. His lyrics are incredible and you know I think he did a great job to put New York on the map.”
“I think Jadakiss is the most consistent with punchlines. And me being an underground rapper, I feel it’s very important to kind of have everybody going ooh! You know every other line when you listen to a Jadakiss rap you’re going to be like ‘ooh did he just say that?!’ You know, he knows how smart he is with his raps and I think he’s a good indicator that rappers are very intelligent people. Just putting poetry to music and making it happen.”
“I think Lauryn Hill is like a goddess. I love her. She was the first person that did the rap/singing thing and everything was so authentic. When you listen to her sing you don’t feel like this is a rapper trying to sing or when you listen to her rap you don’t feel like it’s a singer trying to rap. She just does her thing and she’s always so knowledgeable and eye opening with her lyrics that you got to give it to Lauryn.”
Remy Martin, Foxy Brown and Lil Kim
“Remy, Foxy and Kim are tied for the 5th slot. Remy’s just a beast, Foxy has impeccable timing and a delivery to die for, Kim is the pioneer for my generation. She’s the trend setter. She’s the Queen Bee.
Nicki explains why she should be considered for the Top 5 Dead or Alive:
“Then there’s a very special newcomer who I really think has been slept on but you know what? I really think this person is about to take the game by storm. This person has the swag, they have the punchlines, they have the fun aspect. They have the dope girl sound, the dope girl feel. Women love her, dudes love her….we got to give it up to Nicki Minaj!”
She talks about what sort of deal she is looking for and the bidding war around her:
“In regards to me being signed, let me just say thanks to all the record companies that have approached us with record deals. Just about everybody has placed their bids. But we have to do this special. I think it’s going to be a big statement, you know, for a black woman to get a catastrophic deal right now. I think we really need to put females back on the map. Females have been settling for horrible deals for so long and it’s a lose/lose situation because when they give you a horrible deal with no marketing budget and you have no way to promote yourself…you’re going to fail. So with the Nicki Minaj project, they have to step it up. They have to come big and we’re not doing anything if it’s less than big.”