As the hip-hop beef books will tell you, Lil’ Kim is usually credited as the source of Nicki Minaj‘s style. While that’s true, I’ve always thought that Nicki bites from Lady GaGa even more, and has specifically based her entire career plan on being the urban GaGa.
The similarities between the pair were obvious at tonight’s Grammy Awards, where Nicki pulled a very GaGa-esque stunt by rocking up on the red carpet in a Catholic-inspired hooded gown with a man dressed as a Bishop on her arm. We’d later discover that this was part of an Exorcist-themed performance of her atrocious new promo single “Roman Holiday”, which somehow manages to sound even worse than “Stupid Hoe”, if you can believe it.
Unlike a lot of people who have been trashing Nicki’s performance, I didn’t actually hate it. I liked that it was completely conceptualized from start to finish, Nicki looked great (for once), and when I rewatched it on mute, I was able to enjoy all the flashy backup dancers, pyrotechnics, and the awesome levitating finale.
But at the same time, it all felt so reductive.
The biggest difference between Lady GaGa and Nicki Minaj is that GaGa is actually talented, and she’s always ten steps ahead of Nicki. While Nicki was running around the Staples Center in religious garb trying her hardest to make the front page of Perez Hilton, GaGa remained fairly low-key (by her standards, at least), seemingly content to just sit quietly in the audience and enjoy the show. Other than the dramatic, all-black fishnet ensemble she was wearing –which by now is just a typical GaGa outfit and hardly surprising to anybody– there weren’t any crazy attention-grabbing stunts from her like we’ve seen in the past. Why would she need to? She walked last year’s Grammy red carpet as a giant egg, before opening the show by hatching live on stage. She did the religious concept when “Judas” dropped. She wore the meat dress at the VMAs a year before Nicki Minaj came dressed as a Harajuku dinosaur from the hood. She had already performed as her male alter-ego before Nicki tried to exorcise Roman live on stage.
If Lady GaGa wants to, she can come out on stage in her underwear and pretend that she’s the next Billy Joel with another one of her tired acoustic performances, and get away with it. Lady GaGa can sing. Lady GaGa can dance. Lady GaGa can perform. Lady GaGa can play an instrument. Nicki Minaj can’t do anything. She’s a rapper who can barely even rap outside of the studio. Without the wigs and the costumes and publicity stunts, Nicki is nothing.
As Lil’ Kim would say, “at the end of the day”, Nicki Minaj is no more than a talentless version of Lady GaGa seen through a pair of ghetto-vision goggles.
Enjoy your fame while it lasts, Onika, because judging by tonight’s antics, your fifteen minutes are coming to an end.