Nicki Minaj Calls Out Mainstream Media

music-nicki-minaj-anaconda-07 Nominations for the 2015 Video Music Awards were announced and Nicki Minaj is none too pleased about her perceived snub for “Video of the Year." After sharing a few shady posts on her Instagram, the Anaconda rapper took to Twitter to explain her frustration with a series of tweets. The tweets incited a response from Taylor Swift (the only other female nominated in the category besides Beyoncé). What started as an entertaining round of tea soon turned into a very serious conversation about how Black women are often not acknowledged for their contributions to pop culture.Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 10.13.49 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-21 at 10.26.03 PM

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Let’s be clear: I’m not here to argue the merits of the Anaconda video. However, Minaj revealing her disappointment about not being nominated for "Video of the Year" is not solely based on ego. This comes at an especially sensitive time for Black women. The media continues to trivialize Black women’s style, bodies and very existence.

The Amandla Stenberg and Kylie Jenner “feud” is a key part to the conversation. While Nicki did not use the phrase “cultural appropriation” she implied that White female artists benefit from styles originated by Black women. And just as they crucified Stenberg for calling out Jenner for her cornrows, mainstream media couldn’t wait to vilify Minaj. The exchange between Nicki and Taylor took place merely hours ago and already media powerhouses such as TMZ and Ryan Seacrest have sensationalized the incident. By painting Nicki Minaj in a negative light, she is given the “Angry Black woman” narrative which serves no purpose other than to diminish her very valid points.

While Minaj's dig on "slim bodies" was a classic example of body shaming, I understand her underlying message. Slim, white female bodies are often glorified while more curvaceous, black female bodies are either shamed or objectified. Yet, if those same body parts most commonly associated with Black women are found on the white female form, they are celebrated (i.e. Kim Kardashian's ass or Kylie Jenner's lips) and hashtagged "White Girls Do it Better."

As the tragic story of Sandra Bland unfolds, there is an especially heightened awareness of why the mantra “Black Lives Matter” continues to be a relevant and necessary social movement.  Following her death, it was revealed that Bland was educated and extremely vocal about racial inequality. While the death of Bland is far more serious than Twitter banter, Minaj seems to be drawing from these current events when she expresses general frustration with the mistreatment of Black women.

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Taylor also seems to be missing the bigger picture. Swift calls out Nicki for “[pitting women against each other]” however her perception comes from a place of privilege. Don’t get me wrong, we are discussing two extremely wealthy and famous women but it is clear that Taylor’s good-girl image and Whiteness, make her America’s sweetheart. Taylor Swift’s condemnation of Minaj for not having the “girl power” mentality, allows Swift to ignore the clear racism that takes place within the music industry and the world at large.

When Swift took a stand against major media corporations such as Spotify and Apple, she was applauded. When Nicki chose to stand by Tidal, the general consensus was that she and the other artists (namely Beyoncé and Jay-Z) were being greedy.

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Whether you would define the ass shaking in Anaconda as art is not my concern. Let’s just agree that Minaj was spot on when she acknowledged that Black women don't get enough applause, on stage or off.

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Three Major Revelations of AMY the documentary


AMY As raw as it is heartfelt, Amy the documentary tells the story of the late singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse. 

Best known for her 2006 crossover hit Rehab, Amy’s music exposed the ugly truths of addiction, in all its forms. The documentary's director Asif Kapadia goes beyond the media circus surrounding the late pop star to reveal the life of an English girl with soul.

Addiction

Although Amy showed other aspects to her life, Kapadia did not shy away from Winehouse’s vices. As the documentary plays out, the viewer sees Amy transition from a lively, healthy looking girl to an emaciated shell of her former self within the span of a few years. The film follows her tumultuous relationship with her ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil who many cite as the catalyst of her downfall. Aside from introducing her to hard drugs, Fielder-Civil struggled with self-mutilation.  An already damaged Amy began to mimic his self-destructive habits. Amy’s obsessive tendencies didn’t end there. She struggled with bulimia throughout her early teens until her death.

The Fame Monster

Even if you weren’t all that familiar with her music, chances are you’ve seen at least one of the countless tabloid images of Amy Winehouse drunk and disheveled on a city sidewalk. Amy reveals that even other celebrities joined in mocking the troubled songstress. Everyone from Jay Leno to George Lopez made cringe-worthy jokes about Winehouse. Still, the most distressing part of Amy’s fame was the way it changed the people in her inner-circle. When Amy Winehouse attempted sobriety and escaped the flashing lights of paparazzi, her father Mitchell Winehouse brought the media to her front door. The film features footage of a visibly annoyed and disappointed Winehouse, scolding her father for having a camera crew in tow. Those closest to her, who should have had her best interest at heart, were part of the reason why she failed to improve.

Her Musical Genius

Winehouse’s over-the-top persona too often distracted from the beauty of her artistry as a vocalist and writer. Amy brings music to the forefront, with footage of early live performances and studio sessions. Song lyrics dance across the screen as Winehouse sings her woes during intimate shows.

784985_EAM4U7TQQMKS2JMJE7ZGJ7RZHSZKEH_amy-winehouse-2003_H125615_LWe discover that Winehouse was a jazz nerd who played guitar, planned to eventually collaborate with rapper Mos Def and Roots drummer ?uestlove and geeked out over Tony Bennett. Perhaps the greatest revelation (albeit not surprising) is the origin of Rehab. Winehouse’s biggest commercial success was a quite literal diss towards her former manager who staged a failed intervention. Towards the film’s end, Winehouse’s frustration with performing old material was emphasized. By 2011, she was tired of performing Rehab and was ready to create new music. Viewers are left with a deep longing for what musical greatness Winehouse would have concocted if her demons had not gotten the best of her.

 

After watching Amy you'll want to have a jam session of your own in her honor. Here are my top picks, in no particular order:

Stronger Than Me

Fuck Me Pumps

In My Bed

Back to Black

Valerie

While You Were Sleeping… Bey Was Killing the Competition!

Happy Friday, the 13th! While you were sleeping, Queen Bey was busy dropping her fifth album exclusively on iTunes! I was working on an article about last night’s Scandal when THIS popped up on my timeline. Without a second thought, I dropped everything and downloaded Beyoncé, The Visual Album! It comes complete with 14 tracks and 17 music videos, for all the Bey Stans to devour from now until forever! I got zero sleep and have no regrets.The Beyhive has been waiting for this since at least the Superbowl halftime. She told us patience is a virtue. While we had no true teasers, the payout was truly rewarding. Without promotion, and almost no leaks, Mrs. Carter managed to create an entire album without media speculation or hype. A creative move like this is unprecedented among mainstream artists. With star collaborators including Drake, Frank Ocean and Blue Ivy (yes—THAT Blue Ivy) Beyoncé proves that she is indeed a grown woman, and can do WHATEVER she wants!

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Without further ado, let me introduce my favorite tracks, although honestly, they're all worth your attention.

Ghost Like nothing you've ever heard from the H-Town beauty. She's channeling Kendrick Lamar with her country-tinged spoken word. In a haunting voice, she talks about how mundane the music industry has become. "Soul not for sale."

Haunted

Bey walks into a house of sexual deviants and misfits and plays out her own twisted fantasies. It's reminiscent of American Horror Story: Coven. Dark and sexy.

Drunk In Love (feat. Jay Z) A Jay and Bey video collab was long overdue and the power couple did not disappoint. In this drank-fueled song, Bey is feeling the juices and is down for whatever with her "baby daddy," even if it means getting dirty in the kitchen. Hov is far from shy when he talks about slipping panties to the side. Drunk, ratchet and in luv.

Blow Blow is a funky sweet track that will make you want to replay B'Day. It's classic Bey.

Yoncé This tongue-in-cheek song features models Jourdan Dunn, Chanel Iman and Joan Smalls. I love it when Beyoncé gets cocky!

Partition 

In my very first post, I was against her doing anything in the back of a limo, but Partition has me thinking otherwise. Bey talks about getting handsy with her man in the back of a limo, on their way to the club. "He like to call me peaches when we get this nasty," she insists.

Rocket If Dance 4 U gave you life, Rocket will resurrect you from the dead! This sultry ballad samples D'Angelo's Untitled.

Mine (feat. Drake) This emo track is right up Drake's alley. Beyoncé laments over a flailing relationship when she admits, to “not feeling like [her]self since the baby.”

***Flawless You've heard this single before under the title "Bow Down." Fully mastered, the song is brilliant. Beyoncé adds a voiceover from writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who discusses the double standard women face. I'm gonna give a side eye to Bey's attempt at feminism but...

Blue (feat. Blue Ivy Carter) This ode to her baby girl is sweet and is the most heartfelt song I've ever heard from Beyoncé. Blue has officially collaborated with two of the hottest artists in the game, before the age of two!

Grown Woman

This is hands-down my favorite track. It's a classic Bey anthem and I love the recreation of home videos with her BFF and former Destiny's Child member, Kelly Rowland.