So far, 2018 has been the year of incredible music including some great hits from two phenominal women in music: Nicki Minaj and Cardi B. “Chun Li,” a hit that has a video mentioning female video game legend Chun Li, by Nicki Minaj focuses on strength when against opposition.
“Get Up 10,” Cardi B’s most recent song from her new debut album “Invasion of Privacy,” delivers a similar message but in a very different style. Why, then, are fans being pressured to pick a side and decide who’s better?
Pointing out whatever drama occurred between Cardi and Nicki during the production of the song “Motorsport,” to which they both contributed verses along with rap group Migos, is irrelevant. Cardi B even addressed the drama and called the beef entertainment in an interview for Beats 1 Radio.
She also expressed her love for Nicki and emphasized that she’s already been showing her appreciation for Nicki’s music. Cardi’s been trying to shut the competition down instead of participating. However, speculation about each artist’s music still exists.
Lyrics are constantly deciphered to see if one artist calls out the other. The release dates of “Invasion of Privacy” and “Chun Li” along with Nicki’s “Barbie Tingz” are being speculated as strategic moves.
Nicki Minaj has been subject to comparisons since before she signed with Young Money Entertainment in 2009. Remy Ma and Lil Kim were common comparisons and arguably, these comparisons became the root of the beef between these artists that didn’t seem to end until 2017.
Now, Nicki and Cardi seem to be in constant competition with other female artists, whether it’s in music, credibility or style. Even though competition can result in fire diss tracks, as proven by Nicki’s “No Frauds” which was her response to Remy Ma, it seems like female artists are constantly expected to prove their abilities and tear down other female artists in the process.
The music industry tries to pin one female artist down as the best and any other female artist that follows needs to compete. Now, I realize that every field of entertainment involves some competition.
However, the music industry, especially hip-hop, seems to find women with talent as exclusive or rare. Talent in general is definitely unique, but the music industry reacts to women with talent as if it’s a shock.
Critics often say “A woman who can rap as well, if not better, than a man? That’s unprecedented! There can’t possibly be another woman who can even come close to such skill.” When there is a battle it’s one fought just for recognition as a serious competitor.
Besides the music battles there are the Iggy Azaleas and Bhad Bhabies of the world who only appropriate black culture, make mediocre music and are suddenly in the same category as Nicki and Cardi, creating another obstacle for black female artists.
The difference between the competition for men and women is that no matter what the results are for male artists, there’s no question about where the male artists stand. Although their reputations may have been altered, their place in hip hop wasn’t considered for elimination.
Rap competitions between male artists are usually based purely on their lyricism. There are also rap battles that go beyond the music and involve personal threats followed by actual violence. The seriousness of rap a rivalry is something that goes beyond music fan and producer involvement.
The iconic rap battle that I was old to enough to engage with was the Drake v. Meek Mill beef. The battle first began through Twitter over deserving credit where credit was due in terms of lyrical skill. Meek accused Drake of not writing his own raps, which unsurprisingly led to great diss tracks from Drake called “Charged Up” and “Back to Back.”
I was definitely #TeamDrake, but that’s neither here nor there. No matter how far the Twitter and lyrical beef went, Meek Mill and Drake still held solid positions in rap. The artists weren’t eliminated and they arguably didn’t lose rap credibility. Fans were able to acknowledge that each artist was still solid in their rap careers and the artists weren’t pressured to push each other of their field.
Nicki and Cardi were pinned against each other involuntarily and although it’s not clear who or what pushed the competition to go as far as it did, misogyny is to blame for their made-up beef. Nicki’s rap career began earlier than Cardi’s, they both had different experiences entering the game, their come-ups were different and their lyrical styles are different.
Their similarities include being from New York and being female. Nick and Cardi should have been able to enter their rap careers with their pre-existing independence and power.
They should have been able to hold down a solid position of influence in rap without being compared to the next woman rapper who enters the industry. Again, male artists face competition as well, however, their careers aren’t being tested in the process.
Fans can say Drake is better than Meek all they want but that doesn’t change Meek’s presence in rap. Nicki and Cardi’s competition is rooted in the idea that there could only be one great female rapper, even though there are plenty of male rappers.
Their competition didn’t just start over Twitter fingers. They were in an assumed beef because they’re both powerful, talented and hardworking and apparently that’s not very common among women.
Men don’t expect women to produce work as so there’s no room for multiple women to succeed. At least that’s the way women are treated, especially in artistic industries. Nicki and Cardi deserve their own spots in rap without the constant comparisons to each other.
Their powerful presence will and already has been inspiring women everywhere not only to reach for what you want against all odds but also to support other women through their own career journeys because industries won’t.