During last night’s MTV Video Music Awards, Nicki Minaj performed her much-hyped new single, “Anaconda.” The catchy beat and its incorporation of Sir Mix A Lot’s “Baby Got Back” classic is, admittedly, incredibly fun. Subsequently, I watched the video online (in just a few days, it already has nearly 70,000,000 views).
Well, gents might need a cigarette after watching the video. It consists of Minaj nearly naked, in a variety of sets, and a variety of positions, most of whom consist of her wearing a thong and/or gyrating her behind (the twerking trend is still strong, it seems). You might wonder if you’re watching a Hustler shoot or a video meant for mainstream audiences, particularly youths. Its conclusion is Minaj performing a provocative lap dance on rapper Drake.
But it’s the lyrics that are most concerning, advocating what is essentially prostitution and drug use.
Boy toy named Troy, used to live in Detroit
Big dope dealer money, he was getting some coin
Was in shoot-outs with the law, but he lived in a palace
Bought me Alexander McQueen, he was keeping my stylish . . .
I’m high as hell, I only took a half of pill . . .
Come through and f*** him in my automobile . . .
Now that bang bang bang
I let him hit it cause he slang cocaine
He toss my salad like his name is Romaine
And when we done I make him buy me Balmain
To recap: Sleep with a guy because he’s a rich drug dealer! Men, in return for sex, will buy you Alexander McQueen and Balmain clothing. Also allow a man to sleep with you because he sells cocaine, and sample the drugs yourself.
Lovely. How is this even sexy, rather than sad, desperate, and repulsive?
A drug that makes users have cotton-mouth breath, talk endlessly and foolishly, and rush to the bathroom to empty their bowels . . . is indeed the definition of sexy. Minaj seems to have a thing for praising men who sell cocaine, per the lyrics of her earlier hit, “Super Bass,” in which she raps:
And he ill, he real, he might get a deal
He pop bottles and he got the right kind of bill
He cold, he dope, he might sell coke
He always in the air, but he never fly coach
Due to the constant radio play Minaj’s tracks receive, and her penchant for a colorful, cotton-candy-inspired fashion style (similar to fellow popstar Katy Perry), little girls are huge fans of the immigrant rapper from Queens.
Last year, The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf wrote about how two little British girls, age 8, huge fans of Minaj, appeared on The Ellen Show to perform one of Minaj’s hits, “Super Bass.” And yes, they even sang the line about the guy selling coke. Applause!
At this point, some may say: “But parents need to watch what their kids listen to.” It’s a meritless retort, for several reasons.
#page#First, it assumes only little children are potentially negatively affected by the lyrics. The truth is, teenage women and women in their earlier twenties are even more affected by Minaj’s lyrics boasting about prostitution (essentially), drug use, and overall immorality. Unlike the little girls, they understand every word of the lyrics, absorb them, and possibly emulate them. Moreover, while I may not be a parent, I know it’s nearly impossible to shelter children from negative musical influences and sexual videos. These are the lyrics with which your daughter or sister (in any level of school, or in college, or as a young working woman) is being surrounded.
Admittedly, in the 80s, little girls and young women may have seen Madonna writhe around on a stage to “Like a Virgin.” But (a) the most one saw of Madonna’s body was a bit of cleavage; (b) it was controversial while today that would not even raise an eyebrow; (c) although provocative, the lyrics were hardly explicit (huge difference between singing about a virgin-like experience versus glamorizing sleeping with a man for drugs; and (d) Madonna was the sole exception — nowadays bragging about trading sex for nice clothes and drugs is the rule, not the exception.
This openly sexual, anything-goes mentality may have taken off several years ago, with Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” in which the non-bisexual Perry nonetheless suggested to girls that experimenting with bisexuality is sexy and playful. (The truth is, bisexual acts when one isn’t naturally disposed are a dangerous opponent to morality and female empowerment, as it is often done purely to please a male onlooker or due to the influence of drugs and alcohol.)
The music industry quickly continued the trend. Beyonce, who once profited off her good-girl image, buried that persona last year under half-naked magazine covers, oddly explicit lyrics, and even a reference to drug use (one track’s title: “Blow”). None of this, of course, has stopped the hypocritical starlet from calling herself a feminist, including at last night’s VMAs, when some couldn’t help but point out the disconnect. Miley Cyrus has pulled one stunt after another, including chewing a female concertgoer’s panties on stage and singing about a potentially deadly hallucinogenic drug (“molly”). The Dominican Republic even banned Miley Cyrus’s tour on morality grounds. Who can blame them?
While I share Minaj’s love for a good bass beat, and there ain’t nothin’ wrong with praising big booties, why the need to promote materialism, drug use, crime, and, well, whorishness?
The music industry is laughing all the way to the bank while teaching women to devalue themselves — at what point will we say it is going too far?
— A. J. Delgado is a conservative writer and lawyer. She writes about politics and culture.