Nicki Minaj vs. Cardi B: Can There Only be One Great Femcee on Top?
Cardi B, a relatively new female rapper, igniting the mainstream stage.
Nicki Minaj, an established icon, lavished in platinum records and record breaking sales.
When we look at the two, the comparisons are clear. They are both from New York, they are both women and they both used their respective, individual platforms to catapult them into stardom.
For those unaware, Nicki Minaj got her start on The Come-Up DVD’s, a series produced by the music connoisseurs of Brooklyn. Her animated flow and her wordplay garnered massive attention from both patrons and industry moguls of rap putting her on the fast track for industry success. In just three short mixtapes, she became the self-proclaimed Queen of rap and those at the top of the industry did indeed cosign.
Cardi B is well known based on her role in the reality t.v. show, Love & Hip Hop: New York. The audience of the show connected with Cardi B on a primal level, easily making her a contender for the franchises most popular star. But she surprised us.
Instead of the of the run of the mill antics the Love & Hip-Hop audience has become accustomed to, Cardi B gave us music, music we could bear listening to.
As if on cue, Cardi B’s rise to rap fame sparked an immediate battle between fans, spectators and of course, haters.
Fans of the new comer, Cardi B, insist that she is here to dethrone Nicki or at the very least, challenge her dominant status in the rap game.
Nicki Minaj fans push back emphatically, arguing that Cardi B cannot and will not ever hold a candle to their ordained messiah of female rap.
Fans of rap with no preference between the two seem to be siding with Cardi B, insisting she is exactly what the female rap game needs, competition.
Thus, the battle began.
Cardi B’s single, Bodak Yellow, added monumental flames to the raging fire that is the silent battle for top female MC, more so waged by the fans than by the ladies themselves.
Cardi’s single, Bodak Yellow is being compared to Nicki Minaj’s Itty Bitty Piggy, a free verse Nicki spit from her 3rd mixtape, Beam Me Up Scotty. Itty Bitty Piggy was on the lips of every club goer in 2009, much like Bodak Yellow has swept the club scene in 2017.
The two women spit similarly, confident in their deliveries, feminine women with rough bars absent of the passive demeanor society expects of women.
Nicki and Cardi create anthems, infusing women with confidence and encouraging women to see themselves as the most valuable person in any room.
True Itty Bitty Piggy and Bodak Yellow have those similarities but there are also clear differences.
A break down in comparing Itty Bitty Piggy and Bodak Yellow is the style of rap on each song differ greatly. Nicki Minaj’s Itty Bitty Piggy is two minutes of ambiguous bars and double innuendos, while Cardi’s Bodak Yellow is heavy with the real. Cardi’s three-and-a-half-minute single abrasively and directly checks any perceived competition.
The differences in the length of these songs can help either woman in the battle for best female MC. Nicki’s free verse can give her the edge because a shorter body of music helps the listeners memorize the lyrics. Cardi B’s song can give her an edge because it has a catchy chorus that engages the audience in addition to a variation of flows.
But if anybody of Cardi B’s work is going to be compared to Itty Bitty Piggy it should be Red Bars, a two-and-a-half-minute free verse much like Nicki’s.
When listening to Itty Bitty Piggy and Red Bars in contrast to each other, the difference between these two talented MC’s are clear.
Cardi B has a more direct approach in her bars while Nicki depends heavily on wordplay. In Red Bars Cardi B says, “Yeah I skip all of them chicks in the lunch line/I put in work now I’m here at the frontline”. This is a very direct bar, commentating on Cardi surpassing all competition to obtain a dominant status.
Nicki says, “I'm the only thing hoppin like a kangaroo/I mean the only thing poppin like a can of brew” in Itty Bitty Piggy. The wordplay from this bar indicates that Nicki has passed all competition to become the only important talent.
Both sets of bars refer to these two ladies outdoing the competition but they are communicated to the listener in starkly alternate ways.
So, saying that one femcee is better than the other is really a matter of preference based on whether you prefer the direct approach or if you prefer a little ambiguity. As patrons, the most objective way to compare artists is by the numbers, I’ve been told they don’t lie but they are often used out of context.
For example, Nicki fans cling to the fact that Nicki Minaj is the most or at the very least, in the top 3 for the most awarded female rapper of all time. This fact gives those fans closure, solidifying their belief that Nicki is better than Cardi.
Sure, that number can be used, it’s a true number, but Nicki being top 3 awarded femcees of all time completely ignores the fact that Cardi B just started rapping two days ago. This statistic cannot be used when pitting these two women against each other because Cardi has not been allotted the same amount of time to win awards.
Cardi B fans have their fair share of unreasonable outbursts as well, claiming Bodak Yellow made it to the top of the billboard charts when Nicki’s Itty Bitty Piggy did not. Cardi B released Bodak Yellow as a single, while Itty Bitty Piggy was an introduction to a mixtape, a free verse, so to compare billboard numbers with one song that is a single and one song that is a free verse is just not good math.
Nicki and Cardi B rap about the same topics, they are both unapologetic, confident and alluring. True they have those qualities and some others in common but they approach rap in two drastically different ways and instead of the fans setting these two women against each other because of a difference in rap style, the fans should encourage the two women to embrace one another.
The men in rap embrace each other all the time. There are squabbles amongst the men in hip hop and R&B but there are so many of them that an air of unity is still apparent. Jay-Z and Lil Wayne had beef at one time, slinging shots at each other on several records but they got past their personal feelings because they could see the value of each other in business and otherwise.
The value of Nicki Minaj cannot be understated, regardless of your personal opinion of her, she has been almost single handedly holding the female rap game down. Not to say that there haven’t been other femcees but none have connected with and ignited mainstream audiences like Nicki Minaj in this last decade.
Cardi B’s value can’t really be questioned either. She is a fresh face, a raw talent hell bent on keeping it honest and lighting a fire under the games behind, in the most least antagonistic way possible. She never moves with ill intent but she doesn’t cater her moves to appease anyone else either.
Nicki’s experience as one of the most dominant female rappers, ever, can be invaluable to Cardi and Cardi’s raw flow can really serve as a positive motivator for Nicki to stay on her toes.
These two women together could create a culture amongst femcees of love, acceptance and comradery. If female entertainers were able to collaborate with each other as much as male entertainers work with each other, I do believe they would be unstoppable.
When Nicki has worked with the top women in R&B and Pop industries, she has dominated the charts with songs like Fly ft Rihanna, Feeling Myself ft Beyoncé and Side to Side ft Ariana Grande. These songs created girl anthems, uplifting and bringing women together.
I am all for friendly competition, after all rap is a sport and what fun is a sport with just one competitor? But friendly competition does not mean that female rappers have to forgo unity.
Cardi B and Nicki Minaj can thread the needle here, they can do the pride checking work of embracing each other and getting femcees back to a place of support. Cardi B and Nicki can be the example for this next generation much like the femcees of the 1990’s and early 2000’s were examples for them.
I, as a fan of both, dare them to disregard the fans, industry and possibly even friends fanning the flames of this antagonistic competition. I dare them to put aside all ill feelings, if any are harbored and be the example we know they can be, to dominate the way they should, together.