Sugar & Spice

Is Nicki Minaj's penis obsession crazy, or smart social critique?

Nothing’s shocking anymore. So it’s worth mentioning that just two tracks into Nicki Minaj’s hyped new album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, , she draws a big gasp out of her doting listeners — many of them toddler-aged British divas who sing about her on Ellen.

On that track, the buzzing, frantic “Come on a Cone,” Minaj says something that wouldn’t usually come out of a lady’s mouth: “If you weren’t so ugly, I’d put my d—- in your face.”

Wait. What?

Just to make sure you heard her, she sings it in a very serious a capella voice: “D—- in your face/Put my d—- in your face!”

In the world of the cotton-candy haired rapper Nicki Minaj — the walking, talking, sassing LSD blotter of the hip-hop-o-sphere — there’s a lot that gets said that’s not meant to be taken seriously. Like, say, the way she calls women hoes or bitches. It’s slangy wordplay — meant to be taken more like “Hey bitch! Want to hit up NorthTown?”

You could argue that it’s all her way of acknowledging the male dominated-system that created words like these. And maybe her using them is making things worse for us ladies.

But she grounds these messages in a sort of adorable schizophrenia. Across this album, Minaj bobs and weaves in and out of about four different alter-egos: doting British mother Martha Zolanski, the egomaniac Roman Zolanski, the doll-painted Harajuku Barbie and, of course, Nicki (which seems like an alter, too).

Hiding behind these characters — as a way of rapacting — she saves a little face.

But this d—- thing … that’s not an alter talking. It becomes clear that Nicki, herself, has a lot to say about having a penis. You could chalk it up to a classic case of Freudian penis envy. But would Minaj, someone who puts so much effort into building these elaborate character stories, be that one-dimensional?

Whereas Lil Kim was a shock rapper — the female voice with the male attitude — in the early 2000s, Minaj is a social critic.

When she talks about having a penis, often in a tiny, 8-year-old-girl voice, she is doing it in such a way that points out the absurdity of what has become normal not only in rap culture, but in mainstream entertainment.

The things that Minaj says — about pricks and otherwise — could be easily glossed over if they were coming from the mouth of a male rapper. And while she clearly embraces the royal schlong as a power symbol, the feeling is a lot different.

When Eminem raps about penises, it’s angry and violent. Lil Kim was provocative and, frankly, gross. But coming out of Minaj’s mouth — in her little girl voice, or in her female-tinged man voice — the absurdity of what is being said is so clear.

She’s poking fun at how far off the rails we’ve gotten — that we might hear the words suck my d--- in a regular rap song and not even really pay attention to what’s being said.

Some feminists have pondered what Minaj’s angle is. Bitch magazine questioned Minaj’s constant use of Barbie imagery in her music and image. Was she trying to truly become the living Barbie for young black girls?

Similarly, a writer at wondered whether Minaj’s constant rotation through alter egos was truly interesting or just over-the-top theater.

Sure, practically everything about Minaj is over-the- top. The puffball dresses at runway shows. The seizure inducing video for “Stupid Hoe.”

But that’s the point. Minaj uses that un-ignorability to make sure that you’re really listening. She’s created a powerful pop machine that is contagious as hell.

So who’s got the metaphorical penis now?

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About The Author

Leah Sottile

Leah Sottile is a Spokane-based freelance writer who formerly served as music editor, culture editor and a staff writer at the Inlander. She has written about everything from nuns and Elvis impersonators, to jailhouse murders and mental health...