Nicki Minaj will always be a legend, but she's definitely not poppin' like she used to be. Aside from her mediocre record sales and lack of billboard hits, it appears that she's also fallen out of social grace. Who was once a revered rap queen is now seen as a second-rate wannabe, desperately trying to cling to her days of youth and unceasing success.
Nicki Minaj's downfall can be easily tracked starting from 2017, when Remy Ma released her ruthless diss track, "Shether." The track wounded Minaj's career tremendously, not just because Remy Ma outed her on her butt implants and possibly sleeping with numerous other musicians, but because Minaj waited weeks to respond. The self-proclaimed boss b*tch and rap queen taking weeks to respond to a diss — and with a response that is too timid and lyrically lackluster — looks weak and shatters the persona she built up over her entire career.
Even more detrimental to her success was Cardi B's sharp rise to fame. Cardi B is the industry's new shiny toy, and in an industry as male-dominated as hip-hop, there can only be one shining (female) star at a time. Not only that, but the intense feud they had over several months made Nicki seem like a bully and a jealous hater. Now add on an attention-seeking ex-boyfriend who claims to have written all of your work for you, and you have a recipe for career disaster.
The Barbz would say that the industry is out to get Minaj, strategically planning scandals and swaying public opinion to push her out of the limelight, but I'm not so sure that's the case... Or at least the whole truth. The conspiracy theorist in me wants to agree with them, but perhaps her downfall is the result of years of narcissism and mistreatment of associates. It's no secret that Minaj has a reputation for being a "diva." Her whole career has been filled with drama and feuds with other artists, like Lil Kim, Mariah Carey, and Miley Cyrus (she even once attacked Baby Stormi...).
I understand the tendency for the media to make Black women look angry, volatile, and hard to work with, but when almost everyone in the industry has turned against you and outed you for being a mega-bitch — well, there's probably some truth to it. The truth of the matter is that Minaj has never had to deal with competition in the industry. The lack of female rappers to challenge her level of success and fame throughout her career has built up a false sense of security, like she will always be number one and that she can do no wrong. It's fallacious in nature, but also pretty damn toxic, not just to her career but her well-being. When you spend so long reaping in success, you start to take it for granted.
And when that happens, the universe is always around to give you a harsh reality check.
Like the seasons change, it's bound for someone else to come out on top. This is true in the entertainment world and in the "real world" where us regular folks live. The fame, the fortune, and the "love" from others are never guaranteed and it's a tough pill to swallow. For someone like Nicki Minaj, who quickly catapulted into mega-stardom, the idea that you will always be well-liked and in the limelight is easy to believe. Some of us get too comfortable and become lazy, or some of us cling to the feeling so bad that we do anything to maintain it and from there petty outbursts and behind-the-scenes sabotage commence (*cough cough* Nicki Minaj).
From so high up, the fall down is paralyzing.
I'm as big of a Nicki Minaj fan as you can get without becoming a Barb. I grew up with her music and was captivated by her taking the hip-hop world by storm when she first came out. I emulated her, wanted to be her because there was no one else as bad as Nicki Minaj. She was the rap queen. Watching her downfall is hard, but it's even harder when the whole industry is trying to diminish her success and accomplishments like she hasn't single-handedly been carrying female rap on her back for the past ten years. It's hard when her lyricism is ignored and negated, her talent being overshadowed by more popular artists.
I feel for her, but the worst part is seeing firsthand that our grandiose versions of success are just temporary.
Sure, you can live your whole life rich and famous, but it can also be gone in the blink of an eye. When it's all said and done, only the concrete successes you have built over the course of your life, like family, community involvement, etc. will remain. Nicki Minaj's mark on hip-hop will never be diminished, but that won't stop the industry from bypassing her like she never existed.