The first full-blown concert that I ever went to (The Cleveland Orchestra not included) happened my freshman year in college. I was still in my “B.C.” years and I went to see headliner Danzig, with a relatively unknown band at the time named Marilyn Manson opening for them. Danzig was openly satanic in his lyrics, Manson’s crew at the time sold merchandise in the logo of the Salvation Army with the words changed to read the “Satanic Army.” Of the two bands I only knew one song – Danzig’s “Mother” and aside from that all I had ever heard about the two bands was how everyone wondered who would win a fight between Glen Danzig and Henry Rollins. Money down and wide eyed, I went to the show not knowing what was in store for me. By the end, I have to admit I was relatively unphased, yet still pretty creeped out from both the oddity of cross dressing that was Marilyn Manson and by the fact that he proceeded to take his clothes off during the show. Friends later reported that he was charged with indecent exposure. He could have left his clothes on and I still probably would have felt that we were all still left indecently exposed by the theatrics.
I say all of this to indicate that, I’ve seen some stuff in my day and God has still found a way to work me towards a better version of me. I’ve been to my fair share of concerts since (and yes, many more Orchestra concerts as well) and I have lived to tell about them. I don’t tend to shy away from things just because they are controversial. Instead, I prefer to give people, artists in particular, the benefit of the doubt.
So two weeks ago when I was in Northern England I found out that Nicki Minaj was playing right down the street from the hotel in which I was staying. I was looking for events in Newcastle (The night before I had seen Oliver at the Theatre Royal) and this seemed to be the event of the area Thursday night. I had never been to a concert in a foreign country before. That was about to change.
Minaj drew my interest for several reasons. In the last year she has come to my attention on three fronts. First, a bunch of my youth group kids have been singing her song, Super Bass. Second, I saw her on the Ellen DeGeneres show when she made a guest appearance. She did so because coincidentally two little British girls sang and danced to all the words of, Super Bass, this one song of Minaj’s that I know. In the appearance she is charming, kind and somewhat motherly to the two girls. She even sends them on a shopping spree for schools supplies. Which all seemed somewhat queer to me seeing that she was encouraging these children to sing some pretty risqué lyrics. Finally, in what seemed like a somewhat out of character moment for Minaj, she sang a song at the Grammys that had theological implications as Nikki and company proceeded to act out a fictional(?) exorcism where she “transformed” into her “male homosexual alter ego” Roman.
After these three distinct instances of Minaj I didn’t really know what to think about her. Yes, the lyrics to Super Bass song are questionable. But her charm and concern for people seemed genuine.
All this being said, I have experienced artists that have temporarily misstepped in their past trying to advance their craft – only to revert to a more docile style later on. I wondered if the Grammys stunt might have been the case for Minaj. I have also seen artists in concert who are much more tame and modest than their album lyrics suggest. Either way I figured that having a pastor in the stadium might help if someone decided that an actual exorcism needed to occur. By the end of the concert, Minaj had me wondering if there was enough Holy Water even available for such a task.
Like I mentioned before, I only really know one of her songs. Now I know why. Some of the lyrics are so vile that I was wondering if I really knew what some of the words actually meant. Surly the kids under 16 (who had to be accompanied by a parent) didn’t actually know what some of these statements meant? I know that Europe is significantly more lax in their social morals but I was genuinely embarrassed for the parents that had brought their kids to see this. Shirtless men and scantily clad women made up a dance team that traversed the stage molesting the two-story fire/stripper poles on each side of the stage.
Now don’t get me wrong. Minaj can rap. She is legit, spitting words so fast that it is almost incomprehensible that someone can speak that fast much less control the intonation and range of their voice with such precision. Additionally, it was clear that the dancers were trained professionals, the visual presentation was all around spectacular, the bass went clear through you and array of pyrotechnics, LED Screens and gadgets that made the event a cornucopia for the eyes.
Furthermore, Minaj’s personality is undeniably infectious (take that how you want it) albeit at times schizophrenic. One minute she is cute and charming, the next minute she is ferocious and uncompromising, the next minute she is whorish and vulgar, the next minute she is motherly and loving toward her self proclaimed “babies” in the crowd, and the next minute she is “going into a trance” to become one of many of her staged alter egos.
Yet, of all of these theatrical personalities, I think that Nicki Minaj is really just trying to live out a dual-personality life. She wants to be good and bad at the same time. And this is the point. You can’t try to be both and be both. You can either be bad and unrepentive or you can try to be good, and even though you may fall down your pursuit is betterment
Yet, Minaj isn’t consistent at all and this posits her to be either legitimately insane and in need of mental help or, plain and simple, a con artist and a liar. Now hear me out on this one, because I don’t make such accusations lightly.
At one point in the show Minaj, asks the crowd to cheer for those who are over 21 and then for those who are under 16. The shrieks of those under sixteen vastly out cheered the older crowd. I say this fully understanding that, by this point in the concert, no self-respecting parent would have cheered after what they and already witnessed and exposed his or her children to. That being said, my point is that Minaj KNOWS that there are a lot of underage youth in this crowd. And so, she proceeds to give a little speech about how all of the girls need to protect their “goodies” and not give them away to just anyone. But, in almost the next breath – she goes on to sing songs about one night stands ladened with lewd, sexually explicit language. While she in one moment says, protect yourself “my babies”, stay in school – the next minute she and her dancers are visually being physically explicit in action – alluding to behavior that often unnecessarily leads to circumstances that impede so many young men and women from finishing school. How can Minaj possibly believe that exhibiting such behavior can lead to anything positive for young women or men? The fact is, she can’t. She can’t have it both ways.
Giving her the benefit of the doubt, all I can figure is that such grandiose speeches of virtue come from an internal guilt based in the fact that Minaj knows that what she is selling is wrong. You can’t tell someone the equivalent of “be true to yourself” and then tell everyone that you are going into a “trance” to be someone whom you are not. You can’t tell people that you love them and then lead them down a path of destruction.
At best Minaj is delusional. At worst she is sinister. Either way, I say all of this because it is my hope that people will learn from my experience and love their kids enough to know what they are listening to and not allow them to be emotionally and spiritually abused in this way. There are plenty of quality musicians out there that encourage children and youth to behave in ways becoming of their betterment.
So do I feel cheated out of 40+ bucks? No. It was worth the money so that I hopefully can save you your money and protect your kids. Hopefully this article will lose Nicki Minaj and company a ton of money helping her to reconsider the kind of role model that she has the potential to be.
In the meantime, I’ll be praying for Nicki Minaj and you should too. She has talent, now she just needs the creativity to put that talent to better use.