What can we learn from the Nicki Minaj’s reaction to Hiss? The latest hot topic in rap is Nicki Minaj’s reaction to Megan Thee Stallion song, Hiss. There are different aspects to look at, I will first delve into providing some context and then some general and personal appreciation on the crisis ignited by Nicki Minaj.
Is feminism compatible with rap culture? The male gaze, the insults, the codes…
One of the blame we hear a lot is how women rappers do a disservice to women by being so open with their sexuality. But last time I checked, feminism is about liberation and not really about gender conformity. Within this frame it makes absolute sense that women rappers choose to rap about all the topics that matter to them, and if sex does, well, why not? So you can’t stand with this patriarchal expectations that women should follow a certain lifestyle or artistic approach that is deemed acceptable.
Women rappers are seen as fearless and often have attached a hyper sexual fantasized persona. When Nicki Minaj started her career she brought her whole personality and creative touch to a genre that was not really hospitable towards women. The male gaze is often seen as anti feminist because women rappers are playing by the rules of those rap music videos where women are barely dressed, criticized and seen as less than. Another aspect of this appears in the language itself. Women rappers have been reappropriating the derogatory and demeaning words used by men rappers like « bitch » or « pussy », just to name a few.
Many women rappers have fought hard to impose their style. It wasn’t handed to them. They played by the rules already in place within the rap industry. I am not here to judge if it is good or bad, I am just pointing this out. Can you be a woman rapper who is a feminist and still fit to the male gaze? This is an open question but personally for me as long as they have the agency and the freedom of their creative choices, it is absolutely compatible. Of course if there is coercion to subject women to a certain idea of what they should look like, it becomes less freedom and more of an injunction to conform.
Megan has gained recognition in the fairly recent years and she became a staple in music and rap culture. For further context, in 2020, Megan Thee Stallion was shot in the foot the rapper Tory Lantz who was convicted. After this incident and the fear that surrounded her during this hard times, Megan received the support of feminist who told her that they believed her. This act of violence against black women, in general, shaped her public image. Are black women artist condemned to repeat the same tragic stories as their predecessors? Megan’s experience made a lot of people rally around her and show her the love she deserves (Dear Megan, by #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, and Alexis McGill Johnson of Planned Parenthood - Full text below). Megan was vocal about Mysoginoir in America where black women suffer multiple tragedies because of their gender and skin color combined.
“Black women are so unprotected & we hold so many things in to protect the feelings of others without considering our own.” - Megan Thee Stallion
A lot of people tried to silence her by asking her to come to the defense of the perpetrator which in itself is perjury and a seriously ill ask. Her name was sullied and she took a break from the public during the pandemic, having to deal with this unfortunate situation. Drake has even released a song, Circa Loco, where he insinuated that Megan has lied and was doing it for clout. I mean, Drake is a joke because he clearly has no idea what it’s like to be a black woman rapper and a victim of violence.
“This bitch lie ’bout gettin’ shots, but she still a stallion / She don’t even get the joke, but she still smilin’ / Every night late night like I’m Jimmy Fallon” - Drake - Circo Loco
The Verse of Wrath
In the case of the song Hiss released by Megan Thee Stallion at the end of January 2024, she is directly talking to people who criticize her as it often happens in rap. The verse that made Nicki Minaj lose her cool was the following:
"These hoes don't be mad at Megan, these hoes mad at Megan's Law."
Due to her own story, Megan became a voice for women everywhere who have been a victim of violence, especially from their closest circle. Hiss is also the maturation of her persona or at least her development as an artist where she stands up for women by mentioning Megan's Law and R. Kelly. « Megan’s Law (Public Law 104-145) is the federal law that “require(s) the release of relevant information to protect the public from sexually violent offenders.”
This law happens to have the same name as Megan which is incredibly fitting for the message she tries to convey, this is art at its best. Megan mentions no one by name in her track but it didn’t stop Nicki Minaj to take this verse very personally. One thing about the feud Nicki has tirelessly tried to start, Megan did not respond, not one bit. So now, we will talk briefly about what Nicki Had to say.
Nicki didn’t like the verse mentioning Megan’s law. Why? Well, first of all her husband is concerned by this law and he has been condemned both for attempted rape and not biding by the law and failing to register as a sex offer. Secondly, Nicki’s brother has been convicted of 25 years to life in prison for the rape of his step-daughter of 11 years old. Nicki has vouched for her brother by writing a letter to the court defending his character. It has been made public that Nicki harassed women to defend the men in her life even after they were pronounced guilty by a court of law. I am not going to go into details about Nicki said because it is first appalling and very poor. She released a song quickly after called Big Foot, mocking Megan where she raps:
“This little beggin’ whore talkin’ ’bout Megan’s law / For a free beat, you can hit Megan raw / If you a ghostwriter, Pardi in Megan jaw / Shots thrown but I still ain’t let Megan score.” // “F**k you get shot with no scar?” // “Lyin’ on your dead mama.”
What technique did she use? First, she tried to shame slut Megan which is rich coming from another woman rapper who has based her different personas on sexuality. She took from the repertoire of black male rapper who have always denigrated black women insulting them endlessly in their albums and their video representation. The other technique is similar to the one used by so called rapper, Drake. Nicki tried to shade Megan by doubting her foot injury and presenting herself as a pick-me women at the ripe age of 41 years old. The last verse is made to purely hurt Megan regarding her own mother by here again implying that she lied about the death of her mother. The Queen of rap has made a fool of herself. Barbs (Nicki fan base) went to Megan’s mother grave and took picture. How can you ruin so many years of reputation and career by showing the worst of yourself? After this viral and vulgar picture came out, a lot of her fan base dissociated from her by judging her reaction and the actions of the Barbz beneath what they stand for. Nicki made herself being the victim of the Streisand effect, she believed she was going to rally around her diss track but the discussion moved differently. Her whole career and what she stands for as an artist has been put in jeopardy by her own action.
Why would a women come forward to defend felons who have a history of treating women horribly?
First of all, we can learn that Nicki’s immediate circle could not care less about black women’s experience. Not one person managed to put a halt to this decadence. Nicki has tainted her own legacy by acting in the sole interest of men. Where is the sorority? Where is the women empowerment?
We are entering a new era of fame and deep cultural shift. People, consumers, are no longer putting up with toxic behaviors towards vulnerable demographics. In this era, caring is the master of all. We are paying more attention to where we put our money and how our choices impact the collective and not only ourselves. The stan culture is not normal anymore. And, we have seen this already unfold regarding the latest events around the world. Consumers chose to take their power back and become more conscious of the repercussions of their individual actions regarding society as a whole. TikTok has been a great amplifier in this change and it shows us everyday that people are able to detach from what used to be influential voices in the past and come with a new and more inclusive narrative. This feud Nicki tried to start another example of where we are heading as a society and a global culture. Billionaires, celebrities, and influencers are no longer seen as a monolith to worship and to emulate. From now on, it will be very difficult not to be held accountable as a public person. It is indeed a significant step towards promoting transparency for consumers and enhancing media literacy.
“I’m saying, a hit dog gon’ holler. That’s it. Whoever feel it, feel it,” Megan Thee Stallion - The Breakfast Club.
CORNELL LAW SCHOOL - MEGAN’S LAW
« Megan’s Law was originally enacted in 1996, and is now included in the more expanded sexual offender laws (See Sex Offender Registration and Notification). This federal law requires the sex offender register with various entities, including the Attorney General (for the National Sex Offender Registry) and each jurisdiction where the sex offender resides. Megan’s Law is supplemented by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (Public Law 114-119) passed in 2016. » "
« Megan’s Law was created in response to the 1994 murder of Megan Nicole Kanka in New Jersey. Unbeknownst to Megan Kanka and her family, a violent predator previously convicted of a sex offense against a child was living across the street before he abducted, sexually assaulted,
and murdered Megan. Additional details are located at 34 U.S. Code § 21501."
‘We Stand With You, Megan’: Feminist Leaders and Women in Music Rally Around Megan Thee Stallion - 11/28/2022 by RED ROSENBERG - MORE THAN A MAGAZINE, A MOVEMENT
Megan Thee Stallion Receives Letter of Support From Leaders Denouncing Violence Against Women - BY LARISHA PAUL - ROLLING STONES
« Southern Black Girls & Women’s Consortium full open letter below. »
« Dear Megan,
You are larger than life in many ways; your name is in lights, your face on billboards, your songs in the history books … and this is still just the beginning of your story. In a very short amount of time, you’ve achieved success probably beyond your wildest dreams, and it seems that each day brings a new announcement about something amazing you’ve done or are preparing to do. Women all over the world consider you an inspiration, in part because you make them feel good about themselves. You’re a special kind of talent and a special kind of person; the place you hold in your fans’ hearts is a testament to that.
As you’ve risen to the top, you’ve also had to endure a lot of obstacles along the way. In the face of triumph and tragedy alike, you always keep your head held high, maintain your poise, and push forward. However, while so many of us celebrate you for your strength and perseverance, it must be said that you have been treated in ways that no young woman–no person at all–should be treated.
It must be said that our culture has failed you, one of its most brightly shining daughters. In July of 2020, you experienced a violation of the highest order at the hands of someone whom you considered a friend. Since then, you’ve had to endure public harassment and taunting not only from that person but from others choosing to stand with him. Bloggers have circulated rumors and excitedly reported on the most traumatic experience of your life as if it were juicy gossip, often perpetuating the idea that you’ve got a reason to lie, that you shouldn’t be believed. You’ve consistently been clear about what happened to you, but instead of being met with widespread support, people who should have had your back have chosen to stay out of the matter.
You don’t deserve any of this, Megan. You deserve to be heard, to be believed, and most importantly, to be safe.
There is no amount of power or prestige that can prevent a woman from becoming a victim of violence and there is no level of achievement that exempts women from our society’s complacency with that violence.
You may be a boss, the “hot girl coach,” and a bonafide superstar, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t experience pain. No one is too ‘bad,’ too famous, too powerful to feel hurt. You’ve had to navigate this deeply difficult experience in the public eye, and while you’ve managed to stand strong and to keep showing up to work in spite of it all, it can’t be understated how unfair it is that you’re in this position to begin with.
Violence against women is still entirely too common and acceptable in our world. We make excuse after excuse to explain away even the most heinous acts, especially when the person accused is a celebrity of any sort. Being a celebrity, however, will not guarantee a woman any sympathy when she is a victim.
Black women are also often fearful of what will happen to their assailant if they choose to involve the law — as you yourself were afraid to do — and are left unprotected by the system and the community alike. If someone as influential as you can be belittled and mocked as nothing but a liar for standing up for herself, that speaks a volume about what a woman who doesn’t have your resources or fame can expect to endure when she’s found herself in a similar position.
An estimated one in three women worldwide has been the victim of sexual and/or domestic violence. Here in the United States, the numbers are higher for Black women, who also experience psychological abuse — such as humiliation, name-calling, and insults — at an increased rate. Women of all races, cis and trans, are suffering daily and we’re all too complacent. From day one, you deserved a chorus of voices saying, “We believe you, Megan,” and though you may not have been able to hear us sooner, know that we are with you now and every step of the way as you continue to heal from this tragedy. We are committed to making the world safer for you and all women, and one of the important steps that we must take to get there is to make it so that women who have been victims of violence can speak about their experiences without being attacked or dismissed.
You’ve been so strong, Megan, but that’s not what we should demand nor expect from you. You deserve the space to cry, mourn and heal as you see fit without having to worry about being judged for having a human reaction to a personal tragedy.
Even in the midst of your own traumatic experience and healing, you recognized that other girls needed to experience joy and partnered with Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium on the inaugural Joy Is Our Journey tour impacting thousands of girls across the south. You have remained committed to the focus of mental health and well being in our community even when your own has been minimized, marginalized and deemphasized. We want you to know that you are important and you matter to us and to millions of women around the globe. Your life matters. Your work matters. Your joy matters. You deserve joy. We stand with you.
We salute you for the bravery it has taken to defend yourself in the court of public opinion, though you shouldn’t have had to do so at all. We raise our voices against those who have made light of this heinous example of violence against women and will drown them out with our demands for society to take what happens to Black women seriously. You are not alone. You are believed, loved, and supported.
We stand with you Megan. »
Dr. Brenda Allen, Lincoln University PALaTosha Brown, Southern Black Girls & Women’s ConsortiumLaura Brown, LB MediaTarana Burke, ‘me too’ InternationalEthel CainTaylor Crumpton, Cultural Critic and WriterDr. Tiffany Crutcher, Terence Crutcher FoundationAllisa Findley, Sisters of the MovementK.C. Fox, Sisters of the MovementAngella Henry, DJ Henry Dream FundMarc Lamont Hill, Temple University Professor/JournalistJessica JacksonCongresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Chair, House Judiciary Crime Committee (Tx. 18th)Renee Jarvis, Triangle House LiteraryAlice Eason Jenkins, Southern Black Girls and Women’s ConsortiumMichelle Kenney, Antwon Rose II FoundationFelecia Lucky, Black Belt Community FoundationTamika D. Mallory, Until FreedomAlexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood Federation of AmericaMargo Miller, Appalachian Community FundCarmen Perez-Jordan, The Gathering for JusticeAngela Rye, IMPACT StrategiesDr. Topeka K. Sam, The Ladies of Hope Ministries, INC.Beverly Smith, SiriusXML Joy WilliamsCongresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services