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Rap Star Nicki Minaj Takes a Stand: Analyzing the Lyrics of Is This the Thanks That Is?

Rap Star Nicki Minaj Takes a Stand: Analyzing the Lyrics of Is This the Thanks That Is?

  Rapper Farrah Abraham takes no prisoners when it comes to expressing her opinions, as evidenced in the video for her latest single. Farrah and Farrah square off against one another in this eye-opening clip from her new music video for "Touch My Skin." Nicki Minaj has made her opinions known regarding Cardi B's music, and supported Meek Mill during his trial. Her decision to withdraw her performance in Saudi Arabia shows an awareness of human rights issues and an urge to stand up for what you believe in. 1. “HOV Lane” Alanis Morissette uses "Thank U" to express the disappointment she felt after experiencing success. After spending over 18 months promoting Jagged Little Pill (1995), which exhausted both physically and emotionally, Alanis Morissette took a much-needed break by traveling to India where she found much enlightenment - giving birth to many ideas for "Thank U", including thanking various things and people that helped her get over this burnout. Minaj made a powerful statement against oppressive regimes when she decided not to perform in Saudi Arabia as planned, after Human Rights Foundation CEO Thor Halvorssen sent her a letter citing Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz al Saud's arbitrary enforcement of Islamic Law and state targeting of religious minorities and women. Minaj clearly takes her mission of "thank u, next" seriously and has used her platform to empower others through education and nonviolent resistance against oppressive societies. We hope more artists follow suit and include such strategies in their toolboxes when fighting oppression. Nicki Minaj delivered an uncensored performance of this song at the MTV VMAs that was both outrageous and outlandish, featuring drag queens, voguers, stonefaced drag queens and her signature bubblegum-colored lipstick as part of her look. 2. “I’m the King” Nicki Minaj is unrivaled when it comes to rap. At 39 years old, this "Chun Swae" rapper doesn't hesitate to speak her mind and knows her words will get through. In an interview with Media Takeout, she revealed she now feels less reluctant to express herself openly; partly due to recognizing speaking her mind won't harm her career in the long run; although that doesn't mean she's free from hypocrisy from time to time. At awards shows, she would often dress to impress. When accepting the Video Vanguard Award, she often donned some less-than-PC attire - in one instance she donned an extremely revealing bodysuit while at another she combined her wig with shorts. Recently, Minaj made headlines for declining to perform in Saudi Arabia due to pressure from the Human Rights Foundation's call. They noted the Saudi government's violations of millions of people's human rights - specifically its enforcement of Islamic law and targeting of women and religious minorities by state agencies. Minaj's decision shows she's not immune from facing similar challenges that her Barbz do. 3. “Thank You” Nicki Minaj is no stranger to candid dialogue, and her willingness to discuss everything openly on record has played an invaluable role in sparking national conversations about abortion. Recently on Rolling Stone's "The Cover Up", Minaj discussed her own teenage abortion with graphic detail - normalizing an otherwise taboo topic while giving young women confidence when making life-altering decisions. "Thank You" finds her rapping about her past relationships ranging from an 8-month fling with Big Sean and 11 years with Mac Miller before his untimely overdose at 26. In her next verse she opens up a discussion on what might lie ahead; likely without Pete Davidson whom she briefly dated this year. "Thank You" features an eye-catching music video filled with celebrity cameos and references to iconic '00s romantic comedies like Legally Blonde, Mean Girls and Bring It On. Grande herself professes to being an avid rom-com fan; in this scene from Mean Girls she recreates with some of her famous friends a scene from Legally Blonde; this visual aid serves to reinforce its message of celebrating female empowerment and independence. 4. “Self-Reliance” Nicki Minaj's album opens with the title track which pays homage to Ralph Waldo Emerson's 1841 essay Self-Reliance by reference to Emerson's philosophy of transcendence and self-reliance embodied by Emerson himself - reflecting many Transcendentalist ideals of individualism while at the same time maintaining community with nature. Emerson's philosophy encourages individuals to follow their instincts and beliefs rather than blindly conform to society or others' wills. Nicki Minaj describes herself in her verse as an unconventional individual who stands out from everyone else, while calling her Southside Jamaican clan fierce and armed to the teeth as an analogy for physical strength and fighting skills. Additionally, she references how she holds down her gangster lover by using metaphorical language such as holding him down like gamers (an allusion to physical strength and fighting skills). Furthermore, there are explicit lyrics regarding Nicki's performance in bed. Like Josephine Baker did before her, Minaj is taking steps to challenge stereotypes of black women in hip-hop through her performances and her decision to cancel a Saudi Arabia show is reflective of her deep commitment to social justice in an age when governments seem increasingly restrictive - her action can serve as a reminder that arts have power and freedom of expression is important in society. 5. “Aladdin” Nicki Minaj kept things genuine at MTV's Video Music Awards when accepting her Best Hip-Hop Video award for "Chun-Li." She made an impression in an Off-White dress that showed some skin, even while bending over to hug fans - but it was her cryptic shade-throwing at the end that caught everyone's eye. Minaj made reference in her raps to her impending testimony at the trial of Jelani Maraj, a man arrested for allegedly raping a 12-year-old girl in New York City back in 2015. Nicki Maraj, Jelani's brother has been named an essential witness against Jelani at trial. She announced in a video that she will testify at the trial to ensure that the girl's rights were upheld, drawing cheers from the crowd before leaving the stage with applause as she exited. The 1992 Disney movie Aladdin depicts an upstanding street rat named Aladdin who discovers a magic lamp, unleashing an irrepressibly charismatic blue genie to grant him three wishes. The genie is depicted as having "a body that glowed like fire" and performing magical tricks; critics noted the film for depicting outdated cultural depictions and racist stereotypes; American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee requested Disney remove Howard Ashman's lyrics that included the word "barbaric." Disney agreed to remove this wording with home video release scheduled for Oct 1, while streaming service Disney+ has introduced content warnings when viewing animated films that contain culturally insensitive or offensive lyrics. 6. “Live in the Moment” Minaj stands out among today's fleeting celebrity culture by taking a strong stance for issues that matter. When Thor Halvorssen, CEO of Human Rights Foundation wrote her to ask her not to perform in Saudi Arabia due to its repressive policies that violate millions of people's human rights, she made public announcement of her decision not to do so despite receiving seven figure payment for it. Minaj's decision demonstrates refreshing self-awareness about its policies that violate people's human rights. As an artist from Queens, she draws an eclectic fan base that spans from teenage girls and members of the LGBT community to diehard hip-hop heads alike, appealing both with catchy pop ("Starships," "Super Bass") and gritty street rap ("don't forget I came up freestyling on the streets of Queens" rap. Additionally, she has expanded into TV, fashion, fragrances and spirit lines before finally creating her own line of spirits. She is best-known for songs about her failed engagement to Pete Davidson, her Dangerous Woman concert bombing and Mac Miller's death; yet when it comes to her own relationships she takes an assertive stance against those who use her as an emotional crutch; Minaj, like Josephine Baker (an Afro-Trinidadian beauty who captured global audiences), doesn't shy away from standing up for herself even when it could cost her dearly.

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