Shelly Bell, writer
Every time Mattel creates a new Barbie identity they promote it heavily, animate her in commercials and make her as life like as possible. When the music industry re-creates Lil Kim they call her a Nicki Minaj, promote her heavily, animate her commercially and make her as life like as humanly possible. Barbies become outdated quickly. Nobody actually wants to keep one Barbie identity for life. Which part of Barbie play time is Nicki Minaj acting out now? She went from Hip-Hop Nicki Barb to Pop Barb on acid now what? In a recent, tantrum-filled interview with NYC radio station Power 105.1 morning show The Breakfast Club she was shocked at the hosts’ lack of awareness of her latest re-re-release, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, The Re-Up. However, her angst may have revealed much more about her current situation. In a sad case of truly being the empress in new clothes, Minaj’s mix of music and marketing may be leaving her woefully exposed as an underdeveloped musical entity. Times are hard in the industry these days. Tupac’s “dollar out of 15 cents is real, and labels are scrambling to monetize artists. But, the question of “at what cost” may best be asked when contemplating the present condition of Nicki Minaj.
Minaj believes that the album was set up to fail because major stores did not want to carry it.According to Minaj, Target nor Walmart carried the album and Best Buy carried a limited amount. According to the stores the last few re-releases do not sell well and they didn’t want to take the chance. Nicki passionately spoke about this as if it was unrealistic for them to think this way. Target and Walmart have been selling albums longer than Nicki Minaj as been posing as a Barbie doll; they may actually have some insight on the risks that are worth taking. It may be a stretch to say that the album was set up to fail. It was convenient to re-release the album in terms of an attempt to keep Hip-Hop Barbie relevant, but not a good move in terms of album sales.
On top of being busy as “Public Smiley Face” Barbie with a three-part series on E, judging this season’s American Idol competition, still constantly touring, developing her own perfume and clothing line, Nicki told The Breakfast Club that she signed two artists. Will this possible overexposure fast forward her potential burn out? She answers her naysayers in recent single “Up in Flames”: “They be like what you doing Nicki? Branding…..I’m branding….” “got the clothing line popping, wigs are next” Comparatively to Minaj, rising female rappers like Azealia Banks, Iggy Azalea, and Angel Haze have yet to reach their prime and are solely focused on music. Whatever happened to music, and more specifically, rapping as the centerpiece of Minaj’s “Barbie” branding?
Of course,The Breakfast Club could not let the entire interview go on without asking about her controversy with Mariah Carey! DJ Envy asks if she made the alleged statements about pulling out a gun. With a crazed stare and calm voice she sarcastically answered “I’m not a violent person Envy, I don’t believe in violence, I don’t promote violence, I’m selling perfume, I’m about to sell clothes….” Charlamagne laughs “that’s a ‘the white man has a plan for you answer.’” She laughs back and hi-fives him. This reveals a not-so-shocking yet entirely sad “Jigaboo Barbie” for the media to play with. This moment is a clear portrait of an artist in a strange stage of development. Your homegirl from Queens, NY is now a “more-than-rapper,” morphing into a marketing machine selling perfume and clothes.
Amazingly enough, Nicki Minaj may still be underdeveloped as an artist. The timing and execution of her initial music and marketing plan that produced her career success clearly has stunted her potential as a musical artist. She is signing artists and starting clothing lines and doesn’t even have three successful albums. Relevancy is the key to selling product lines. Consistently solid and mainstream marketable production is the key to an artist staying relevant. According to it’s poor retail placement, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded The Re-Up is not a marketable production. It is important that Nicki prioritize in order to stay afloat. There’s no need to cherish Barbies they are generic and can be made over and over. Nicki Minaj may be rapping about being a queen now, but while she sits on a throne there’s other female rappers in training for her seat. The fate of Hip-Hop Barbie rests in the question did Nicki Minaj really want to be a rapper or has she unsuccessfully become something else?