What Is Up With Nicki Minaj?

Nicki Minaj is the new hip-hop/R&B artist that has come upon the scene with a bunch of hits such as “Your Love” and “Check It Out.” I didn’t know who she was, although I have to say I did hear those songs on the radio. Both of them sample songs from Annie Lennox‘s “How Did We Get” (even Lee Hyori liked that song…or more like it was written for her) and the Buggles‘ “Video Killed the Radio Star.” The lyrics are totally different, they just have like the beats of the originals.

Why am I writing about her? It’s because you should see her videos.

“Your Love” takes on inspiration from Japanese samurai films and Chinese wuxiapian (think “House of Flying Daggers”), where she’s dressed in a kimono and does karate, and gets the praise of her samurai-sensei. Unfortunately, another girl doesn’t like Nicki getting all the attention and they end up in a sword fight in a “forest” of green ribbons. By the way – no one in the video is Asian.

“Check It Out” takes on a mock-Lady Gaga-ish weirdness with Hangul in the background. As she dances around singing with will.I.am of Black Eyed Peas, Hangul characters pop out in a cartoonish manner that roughly translate her lyrics. The video even begins with a Korean announcing her presence, and it sounds kinda weird, as if it’s an exaggeration of Korean, so that they sound garbled. I had to listen to it twice to figure out what he was saying – and surprisingly there are no subtitles.

There are Asians in this video – in the background and in the “audience” to her performance. The audience is made up mostly of women, all dressed in black and all acting like robots. Huh. Stereotypical much?

The songs are entertaining by itself, but the videos are very weird. I don’t understand why these songs, which have nothing to do with the respective cultures they display, are done in this manner. Is it an excuse for her to play dress up or to have cool Korean characters pop up in the background? She doesn’t even have any connection to Asian culture, other than her reinventing her image every so often.

While I enjoyed the shout out to Korean culture and the whole Hallyu-Pop Version Wave, I didn’t like what she was doing with it. She may have tried to transcend stereotypes by showing that other races could be partaking in Asian culture (and historically, it is said that Asians and Blacks have allied together during the civil rights movement, so there – they’re connected as the maligned minority). However, especially in the “Check It Out” video, it comes out as kinda dumb. Based on the limited Hangul I can read and understand, some of the lines were just so literal and just bits and pieces of what she’s saying – they’re not necessarily full sentences.

I wonder what she was trying to do – promote Asian culture? Or merely have it as an added “spice” to make herself seem more exotic an unique? ‘Cuz ya know, a little hint of Orientalism aaaaalllways makes it better.

Psh. Yeah right.

source: youtube

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