Every rapper from New York and New Jersey has one dream in common; to perform on Hip-Hop’s biggest stage, Hot 97’s Summer Jam. Every rapper aspires to grace the stage where Jay-Z unveiled Prodigy’s ballerina picture, where Nas attempted to lynch a stuffed Jay-Z, where 50 Cent had folding chairs thrown at him by a former associate entourage. They would rap in the mirror imagining being on the Meadowlands stage, having the stadium packed audience screaming their name. Nicki Minaj being raised in Queens, New York would not have been much different. From a young age she would have been singing into her hairbrush and performing for her Barbies as if they were Summer Jam attendees. So what would possess Nicki to bail on the Summer’s brightest stage and a chance of fulfilling a lifelong dream by headlining the night?
The drama began when Peter Rosenberg in a pre-Summer Jam event said “Starships” was not real Hip-Hop and was in fact bullsh*t. Speaking to die-hard Hip Hop fans before introducing Kendrick Lamar he proceeded to say “f*ck that bullsh*t, I’m here to talk about real Hip-Hop!” This is not a thought that the Hot 97 radio host had been alone in; many people have noticed an intentional shift in her music away from the grimy urban patterns that made her an underground sensation to the glossy pop fabric that keeps “Starships” in constant rotation on stations like Z-100. Why his statement surprised her, I am not sure. Especially since this was not his first time criticizing her for this particular song. He said previously on his Hot 97 morning show that “it was the most sell-out song [by a rapper] ever.”
Rosenberg’s statements did not only surprise her, they offended her deeply. So deeply in fact that she contacted Young Money head honcho Lil’ Wayne, who decided she did not have to take this abuse and pulled her and other Young Money acts from the bill
Nicki’s fans applauded her decision saying she was right to stand up for herself. 60,000 attendees at Summer Jam were not so pleased with her being a no-show. In particular, one Funkmaster Flex took to the turntables and mic spewing venom. “We ain’t f*cking with commercial rappers no more! Let’s go! If you lost the streets its your fault! If you don’t go gold its your fault!” He then screams a frightening message to the absentee would be Queen of Rap, “I’m dedicated to tearing you down! F*ck with me….you ain’t sell no records this time!”
In a recent interview with MTV Lil’ Wayne explained why he pulled Nicki Minaj from the show. “First of all, I approached the situation like this; that’s a female, first and foremost,” he said. “Nicki Minaj is a female. I don’t know what anyone else believe, but I believe that females deserve the ultimate respect at all times no matter what, where, when or how. So as soon as she called me and said she felt disrespected, I just declined everything and pulled her from the show…”
If you had to do a double-take on that quote it just proves that your bullsh*t detector is still in proper working order. Lil’ Wayne is after all one of the most misogynistic rappers in the universe. Even a cursory glance at his catalogue will show that if he does have an iota of respect for women it is not something he chooses to rap about. Wayne actually has a T-Pain assisted song on The Carter IV which is entitled “How to Hate a B*tch”. Apparently, his respect for all women only extends to the ones that are platinum-selling artist and signed to his YMCMB roster.
Peter Rosenberg correctly rebutted the New Orleans rapper/CEO by saying, “Lil Wayne thinks that I don’t show respect for women,” said Rosenberg on the radio. “Wayne is right about something—Women are mothers, are sisters, are daughters. But I have a question. Is me giving my opinion that one song is wack, is that showing a lack of respect for women?” It certainly is not. What disrespects women is calling them b*tches and h*es, the exact words that Wayne uses to refer to women regularly in his music. After playing several soundbites of Lil’ Wayne’s disparaging remarks towards females, Rosenberg summarized his point by saying the Young Money rapper is the last person who should be lecturing anyone on the topic of respecting women, adding, “Weezy F and the F aint for Feminist.”
One thing that might be lost in all the back and forth between Wayne and Rosenberg is the Coke bottle silhouette known as Nicki Minaj. In her Twitter response to being pulled from the show, she sounded remorseful almost defeated, as if she wanted to desperately perform but her hands were tied:
I go above and beyond for my fans. But won’t ever go against wayne’s word. What he says, goes.
— Nicki Minaj (@NICKIMINAJ) June 3, 2012
Seems like that was the furthest thing from the truth since she contacted Wayne, seemingly with the hopes of being able to get out of her performance due to the slight. Lil’ Wayne did admit “As soon as she called me and told me she felt disrespected, I just declined everything, I pulled her from the show because … no person that works with me will be disrespected in my presence as long as I’m on this planet.” What did she prove by doing that? What did she do but give her detractors more gasoline for the bonfires they have been roasting her over? Summer Jam has been used by many crossover rappers in the past to reconnect with the hardcore Hip-Hop audience. It was apparently more important for Queen Nicki to save face then salvage her last remaining shreds of Hip-Hop credibility. Although, Nicki sent out a tweet promising a free concert in NY for her disappointed fans the damage has been done.
It didn’t help that Nicki Minaj did not appear to be missed at Summer Jam. In fact, maybe the best thing that happened to Hip-Hop on the evening of June 3rd was her not performing as Nas, who was slated to have a brief cameo during her set, became the headliner and brought out Lauryn Hill to do a moving rendition of “If I Ruled the World.”
Lil’ Wayne and Nicki Minaj desperately want this Summer Jam fiasco to be an issue about women. In a heated discussion with Funkmaster Flex Nicki said it was distasteful for a man to be up there bashing her, the only female act on the bill. “I’m holding it down for women. I am the only woman on that stage holding it down for women. If he’s a [real] man go up there and say some sh*t about a man. I respect men who are real men. But if all they do is who only take shots at women [I have no respect for them].” This was a thought she originally brought up on Twitter shortly after Rosenberg made the original comment, saying the DJ was “not bla[c]k but on bla[c]k radio dissin bla[c]k women.”
The issue is not about Nicki Minaj being a woman; the real issue is that Hip-Hop fans are no longer content to be the ones to elevate an artist to stardom only to have them venture into pop music because it is more economically viable. It seems like Hip-Hop is no longer willing to be the stay at home spouse who turns a blind eye to its mate’s musical infidelity. These days artists are finding it harder then ever to play both sides of the fence, dropping hardcore Hip-Hop for the people who gave them prominence and making pop hits for the radio. More and more rap artists are realizing that once you crossover there may not be a loyal Rap fanbase waiting for you when you fall out of the Hot 100.
This kind of accountability is what rap artists have always needed, hopefully Nicki Minaj will take it as an act of love and realize that we would rather hear her spit a verse like “Monster” then sing like a poor man’s version of Taio Cruz on “Dynamite.” On behalf of the handful of Hip-Hop purists who still have hope that Nicki Minaj will come to her senses I say, Nicki come home before it is too late. Before the door is locked and you are left out in the cold with Roman and his other personalities. Word.