Last weekend, much of the contemporary world became consumed with Bronx rapper Remy Ma’s diss track directed at rapper Nicki Minaj. Remy Ma’s vulgar and non-restrictive bars received abundant praise, many claiming that Martin “killed” Minaj with her verses. Remy’s verses proclaimed her as the Rap Queen and within seven minutes attacked Minaj’s credibility, her “ass” ets, promiscuity, earnings and even her affiliation and support of her brother who acquired sexual- assault charges last year. Many inquired “where to send flowers” referencing Nicki’s lyrical “death” following Remy’s track. However, I write to discount this feud as a smokescreen implemented to distract the black community from the more pertinent issues plaguing our community. Here are three reasons why this “rap battle” aggravates a wounded black collective.
1. Dismissing Fact for Fiction
Remy Ma released her track hours before the fifth Anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death. This proved disappointing because not only is Martin black but the mother to a son. Her son could have very well been Trayvon Martin. Her son could very well be Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown or any of the countless black men prematurely placed in the ground they should walk on like kings. Instead of challenging a system that cast blacks as more likely to be dead, or incarcerated, Remy Ma opts for the easy road and challenges a young MC for a fictive throne.
2. Hypersexualizing the Black Female Body
Similarly, Remy Ma repeatedly states that Minaj used sexual acts to get where she is. Nicki, as smaller, lighter and more facially symmetrical that Remy Ma undoubtedly received a more sexualized gaze than Remy Ma with or without her curves. With this said, Remy Ma also incurs a sexualized image in the children she birthed at a young age. Commonly, both images function to substantiate the hyper-sexual black female body— although manifested in a polarized fashion. Furthermore, both images endure exposure because both cast a negative and caricatured gaze onto the black female body.
3. Misdirected Anger
Remy Ma was released from prison last year after serving eight years. She incurred an eight- year sentence after shooting a former associate over three grand. Unlike many blacks who serve time, Remy Ma left prison and received a contract from Love and Hip Hop to document her transition back into society. While it’s great to see a black person afforded an opportunity to earn a living following incarceration, VH1 is known as a contemporary platform to exploit the black body. Namely, by airing numerous reality shows that portray the black female as looking almost identical to one another with long false locks, and caked in pounds of makeup—behaving in a gauche and belligerent manner, VH1 conveys the fictive portrayal of black female bodies as fact. Thus, Remy Ma gains employment after her incarceration because her reality reinforces the stereotypes VH1 has spent significant money and time nurturing in her absence from society.
Despite having served time, Remy Ma sees a conflict with Nicki Minaj. This is particularly troubling because if we as black people continue to perceive one another as opponents, the true demon continues to control and oppress us.
Hip-hop, like other means of entertainment, exists to implement the black body as a means to render both the individual and the collective a tool in their own oppression. Furthermore, what appears a battle of wits between two female emcees, is a means to deflect from the larger issues that plague black life. So while some ask where to send flowers for Nicki, this feud demonstrates that it is black consciousness that suffers a slow and tortuous death. This battle is most likely orchestrated by one or both labels as a means to generate traction for one or both artists’ upcoming projects. The best thing Minaj can do in this scenario is to find a means to turn this battle into a sisterhood.
Both Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma caricature black femininity, and illustrate how the western gaze conceptualizes the inner-city or “urban” black female body. As figures of white imagination, this feud will only aid the white puppeteer who benefits most from such images. To be foolish enough to purchase and support this behavior is to participate in the very behavior that complicates every component of black life on western soil. This feud illustrates how black interest is manipulated to fuel the very white supremacy that foments black systemic disenfranchisement
We are better and smarter than the consistent manipulative techniques thrust onto the black community. Do not be manipulated. Today this manipulation costs you seven minutes, eventually, it will cost you your sanity and ultimately this manipulation may cost you your life.
The contemporary world remains inundated in fomenting black self-destruction. This week, this ideology manifested in a rap battle.