Trent Reznor traveled down a similar path as many musicians do. He was hooked to music at an early age (in his case, the piano at the age of twelve), developed his musical identity through high school, went to college only to drop out to pursuit music, moved in search of better opportunities (from Pennsylvania to Ohio), and continued to hone his craft until that coveted big break. That big break would be in the form of the Rock group Nine Inch Nails, which he founded in 1988. The group would eventually sell over twenty million records worldwide and won two Grammys. A forty-five year-old Reznor was offered the opportunity to create the score of The Social Network, the film about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. He jumped at the opportunity, explaining in an interview, “I really try to put myself in uncomfortable situations. Complacency is my enemy”.
Lack of competitive balance can breed complacency. Coca-Cola benefits from Pepsi nipping at its heels. The litany of fast-food options (and healthier eating options) keeps the pressure on McDonald's. In the ultra-competitive Hip-Hop scene, who is keeping Nicki Minaj from becoming complacent?
The talented rapper from Queens has been at the peak of women’s rap for some time. A few have had their fifteen minutes of shine, then it was on to the next. Remy Ma tried her best Nas "Ether" impersonation, but Nicki remained standing tall, in her pink glory.
Can Hip-Hop’s love affair with the latest light-skin sensation, Cardi B, give Nicki a run for her money? Only time can answer that question. However, the Bronx rapper born Belcalis Almanzar might represent a challenge for Nicki. If her past profession of being a stripper taught her anything, it is how to hustle and make something out of a phone and a great body. The lady is all about making money and providing for her family. Rap has become her new avenue for that. Cardi over the years has created a strong, cult-like social media presence, which can propel her above her other contemporaries.
Minaj is still going strong. Her brand is impeccable, still strong lyrically, has massive crossover appeal, and has the backing of the Cash Money machine behind her (for now). Cardi has yet to release an official album. What Cardi B represents, though, is a potent enough threat to put some fire under Nicki, forcing her to outdo her Pinkprint effort. In a Dazed interview, she talks about entering an era that “will be a billion times more epic…”.
Be on the lookout for a (potential) Nicki Minaj masterpiece coming soon.
Photo from XXL