So, for a while on the internet, THIS was controversial. Not the song itself, not any actual music or lyrics that people heard and objected to. Just this: Nicki Minaj's butt. People were up in arms apparently, declaring that it's Not safe for work ,and that it's too racy, to the point where I couldn't help but feel that the reaction to this cover was somewhat planned, like they planted articles drawing attention to the cover art. I mean, it HAS to be, right? Just to have her fans rally around her in support, saying, "Eff the haters you go girl! Show off your natural Black beauty… that has obviously been digitally lightened and augmented for the main purpose of looking attractive to an audience of men who couldn't give a damn about her artistic integrity… Grrrl power! But for real, is anyone ACTUALLY offended by this? Is this new? Are we really shocked by Nicki Minaj using sexuality to sell her music? I mean, call me a hipster, but I was through with this last year after the whole thing about:
"BOOBS BOOBS BOOBS BOOBS BOOBS, LOTTA BOOOOOBS"
Yeah, after a line like that, you're no longer actively trying to be respected as a rapper. And besides, looking back at it (*ahem* no pun intended), she's ALWAYS been about using sexuality for fame. Remember this picture? Yeah, that's when she STARTED getting popular. In fact, remember that whole "I may or may not be bisexual" nonsense, where she was tapping into the mental struggle that many young teenagers go through with their sexual identity, and it was obvious that her PR people made her push that persona for the dual purpose of A, gaining the following of sexually questioning young adults and B: turning the heads of men who like the idea of a girl being into chicks but still totally wanting the D? Yeah, it's always been about gimmicks to some extent. Hell, she was giving damned lap dances on stage during her tours. But if I were to play Devil's advocate, and try to validate these claims that THIS is the cover that "went too far", I'd probably wager that it relates to the way she is blatantly presented, the fact that, in this cover, she is not coming to you as a rapper, she is coming to you as her butt. In this picture, she is not the individual Nicki Minaj anymore, she is just another one of the millions of pictures of eye candy showing us their backsides, because she's just another video ho, and we all know the only thing we REALLY want to see is your ass, Nicki. So stop talking, face the front of your body away from me, and show me the TRUE reason we give a damn about you. Thing is, though, this visual of her depersonalizing herself and just being another ass for us to look at… that's not new either. In fact, I remember having that exact feeling when I saw her in the "Ass" video. THAT was the first time I felt like something was wrong. I mean, I know most video's will have a female rapper being sexualized, but it's usually a special sexualization, where you can tell that we're supposed to be focusing on the personality of the rapper in question. Here, in this elongated segment of her shaking her ass, there was nothing unique about her, it was face away from the camera, ass out, just another video ho in the shoot. So, even in the aspect of her being treated as run of the mill sex candy, this is NOT new. Actually, this is pretty tame. In fact, when I first saw this, I wasn't even concerned with her ass, the first question I had was, "Why the hell is the song called "Anaconda"?" What could a song called "Anaconda" possibly be about?
My Anaconda don't… My Anaconda don't... My Anaconda don't want none unless you got buns hun
It's interesting that it samples "Baby Got Back", however, I don't like when people sample songs that were already proven to be number one hits, especially so liberally. Now, I've heard a lot of feminists championing the sample of this song, claiming that Nicki's "taking back the song for women", but… dude, no, She just ripped off a well-known "shake your booty" song to make her own "shake your booty" song. And I'm not usually one to call a song a rip-off when it's sampling another song, because a lot of songs use sampling to enhance a certain sound that they liked in the original work, and I can get with that. With this? Nothing is done with the beatwork that enhances the music, they just layer annoying, unnecessary sounds over the sample so much, it makes you just want to go listen to the original. All of these sounds just get on my nerves
*bell ringing* Oh my gosh, look at her butt Oh my gosh, look at her butt "Little In the middle, but she got much back *layered over "Oh my God, look at her butt"* *moan, DAMN*
And not to mention the most annoying sound they use on the track: nicki Minaj
*she laughs annoyingly*
I wasn't exaggerating. Nicki, nothing is that funny. What are you even laughing about?
"He LOVES this fat ass!"
…you sound like a super villain who just hypnotized and trapped someone with your buttcheeks. …Is that where the pro-feminist message comes in?
But that's near the end of the song, the first part of the song is her telling a couple short stories about guys she used to have sex with, both of whom sold drugs
Boy toy named Troy, used to live in Detroit Big dope dealer money, he was getting some coins
I let him hit it cause he slang Cocaine
Just… straight up, no shame, "I let him have sex with me because he deals drugs". And… look, I know a lot of rappers embed themselves in the drug culture, and so she aligns herself with it too, because the drug game is cool to everyone nowadays, but my problem is that, she doesn't paint herself as an active agent in any of this drug activity, and yes, the drug dealing business is a shady profession with people of moral ambiguity that you should not look up to, but, with any business man, legal or illegal, there's always the illustrious draw to them, a certain respect for anyone who's worked their way up to where they are, who climbed through the rungs of an industry, no matter what type it was, and has put in work to make a comfortable living for themselves. As a culture, we respect that. We see the wit and intellect behind men like Don Corleone, Walter White, and Frank Lucas, and many rappers want to emulate that lifestyle because of the respect of their hustle. Nicki Minaj, on this track doesn't play the person who worked her way to the top, no, it's quite apparent that she is playing the role of the two-bit, materialistic floozy who bangs her way into the lap of luxury, and, well, you're not SUPPOSED to look up to Daisy Buchanan from the Great Gatsby, you feel me? Now, if she was talking about being the queen pen in this whole thing, and that SHE was the one putting in work, and that she was a sugar momma for some young guy that she used and tossed to the side, I'd be like, okay, you're switchin' it on 'em, and showing that it's no thing for a woman to be in control of things. But this is not that scene. She's portraying the drug dealer's air-headed plaything, right down to the cutesy, child-like voice and seeming dismissiveness of his terrible actions as long as he has a nice house and gives her pretty shoes
(He) was in shootouts with the law, but he live in a palace Bought me Alexander McQueen, he was keeping me stylish
And, throughout the song, she keeps talking about freaky sex that she has with these guys, which is there to make you see her as a sexually liberated women, and hey, I get it: it's about doing to men what men do to women in rap songs
He toss my salad like his name Romaine
But then, her supposed female righteousness is quickly followed by her telling him to buy her clothes
And when we done, I make him buy me Balmain I'm on some dumb shit
The premise here is a straight-forward, "I had sex with him, now he owes me clothing". Now look, I know I'm a man, and as such, I can't be the one to say what ultimately is empowering for women, or even that she HAS to make songs that empower women, but jeez I'm not asking her to be Rosie the Riveter or anything, just to be her own damn woman, or at least portray herself as such. It's not like she isn't a business woman who's been making power moves in the industry, at least I somewhat thought she was, until I hear songs like this where she talks about still being reliant on men. This just feels lame and ultimately pandering to a crowd that just wants to hear sexuality as the ONLY way a woman can have any semblance of dominance in the industry
Now, maybe I say this because I think the song being sampled is by a male rapper in the early 90's who was at least being controversial with his message:
I'm tired of magazines Sayin' flat butts are the thing
So Cosmo says you're fat Well I ain't down with that!
So I'm lookin' at rock videos Knock-kneeded bimbos walkin' like hoes You can have them bimbos I'll keep my women like Flo Jo
No one was really out there in music, saying that black women were a standard of beauty that was to be desired in the mainstream, especially not in music. Of course, the problem with Sir Mix-a-Lot's song is, you can easily say that, for all it's talk of being proud to throw some appreciation toward the female form commonly associated with black women, ultimately, you can easily say that he's still objectifying them, sure they're the women not commonly seen as attractive in a White-dominated world, but it doesn't change the fact that objectification is what's still happening. So here Nicki comes to sample that song, and "take it back for the ladies" as it were, but honestly? Other than the fact that there is indeed a female rapping over Mix-a-Lot's beat, Nicki doesn't REALLY do much to earn that "reclaimer" title that some people seem to want to give her. Come on, guys, just BECAUSE a black woman is the one who gets the mic to talk about female bodies, I don't think that fact in and of itself makes it a female positive piece of art. I'm sayin', when you see those vine videos of girls shaking their asses while their best friend records it, I doubt feminists breathe a sigh of relief when they hear that the person behind the camera is also a girl, because hey, at least it's a woman recording it! Naw, it's still video made for the entertainment and approval of thirsty men. And to me, this song is just sampling "Baby Got Back" as yet another gimmick, trying to turn heads with the 90's nostalgia bomb that is "Baby Got Back". Sorry. Now, so far, I haven't really shown you that many lyrics from the song itself. But for real, that's because there really aren't that many, and the ones that are interesting to talk about are even fewer and farther in between. There are two short verses that barely qualify as short stories, and the second half of each of those verses goes exactly the same. But as expected, there are still a couple of odd lyrics in there...
He can tell I ain't missing no meals Come through and fuck 'em in my automobile Let him eat it with his grills And he telling me to chill
You want him to eat you out with his grills still in his mouth? *show dirty grill* That… can't be hygenic…
This dude named Michael used to ride motorcycles Dick bigger than a tower, I ain't talking about Eiffel's
…Well, which tower ARE you talking about, then?
…Okay, with this lyric, I know what she was TRYING to do, but she kinda messed up with the execution. you see this is a thing in rap that I like to call the "unwordplay", where someone uses a euphemism for something, but instead of directly comparing their play on words with what the wordplay may literally allude to, like, "I'm just kicking' it like a soccer team", they jokingly disassociate the play on words with what you may have expected them to be comparing something to, for instance, "Yeah, we're just kicking' it, but I ain't talking' 'bout a soccer team", the joke being that they're acknowledging the fact that it's a euphemism. The problem here is with the wording, because when she says:
Dick bigger than a tower, I ain't talking about Eiffel's
It's no longer just about comparing his dick to a tower, it's now about what KIND of tower. It's like she's saying: "Yeah, his dick was as big as a tower… but not, like, the EIFFEL tower. I mean, that'd just be ridiculous! No, it was more like, maybe a Lego figurine of the Eiffel tower, if I had to be precise
And… that's it, as far as lyrics are concerned. After the 2 minute mark of this 4 minute and 49 second video, there are no more new lyrics that aren't just repetitions of the chorus or the bridge, so the second half of this song is just playing different parts of Baby Got Back with annoying sound affects. That and unnecessarily long outro where Nicki just sort of rambles
Yeah! This one is for my bitches with a fat ass in the…
Dude, just end it…
Fuck the skinny bitches Fuck the skinny bitches in the club
Dude, just end it…
I got a big fat ass--
Dude, even the engineer is trying to cut you off. End the song. END THE FU--
Overall, I gotta give this a 0 out of 5. I was thinking about maybe giving it a 1, because the verses are at least short for how crappy they are, but then…
And I just can't imagine actively wanting to listen to all this again. This is bad. It's choppy, annoying, simple to the point of embarrassment, and doesn't respect the audience enough to cut it out before it wears out it's welcome. That sample used for the chorus works for about 30 seconds before you start questioning whether or not the producer actually had any idea what to do with the song other than just play "Baby Got Back" under her vocals, and Nicki is in full on goofy bimbo mode, and just comes across as someone desperate to keep people talking about her, instead of delivering rhymes that anyone can give a shit about. The video included. I mean, before, in her videos, there was at least SOMETHING else going on, Ice motorcycles, crazy costumes, now, it's just that uncomfortable part of the "Ass" video stretched out for 4 minutes trying to justify this poor excuse for a rap song. And what's worse, SO many people keep supporting it because they feel like it's a feminist piece. Ladies and gentlemen: did we watch the same video? Did you guys somehow miss the part where she sprays herself with whip cream and attempts to deep throat a banana? I mean, I know pro-feminist media is hard to find in a mainstream context, but… are you guys gonna act like you DIDN'T just hear yet another strip club anthem with yet another music video for men to watch on mute? This video was just another submission to the "male gaze" portfolio, right down to the director of the video and music production credits. Just because a woman's in the front of the scene, doesn't mean this isn't just another product by men, for men. So, can we NOT act like this isn't just more pandering crap to keep her relevant because being a good rapper apparently isn't enough? Good god, you're a household name, yet your label doesn't have nearly enough faith in you as an artist to NOT have you shaking your ass just to keep people watching
I'm the Rap Critic, and… I'm rethinking my marriage proposal