What do Nicki Minaj and Slam Poetry Have in Common?

You a stupid ho, you a you a stupid ho

Such a catchy beat!

You a stupid ho, you a you a stupid ho

To be honest, the second person reference in Nicki Minaj’s Stupid Hoe drives me a bit crazy and the terms “hoe” and “stupid” are not exactly what I want stuck in my head. But that beat, oh that beat somehow gets my body moving. This is my conflicting relationship with Nicki Minaj. But as a female rapper she is subject to the historical and political burdens that come with being in the industry. Right? You gotta do what you gotta do. So I try to zone out the words and just move to the beat. My head keeps moving. My shoulders are shrugging, that is, until about half way through the song.

Them nappy headed hoes but my kitchen good.

I froze in hearing her reiterate the term “nappy headed hoes,” a term she also uses in “Did It On ‘Em.” In recent  memory Don Imus uttered these words in reference to the Women’s Rutgers Basketball team. This line stung me not only as a black woman with natural hair but as a person aware of the history of these three words. Im struck by the inherent violence in these words. Now, seeing them as words written down, they sting even more.

After hearing the single, I was reminded of a poem from one of the Striver’s Row poets Jasmine Mans. So what do Nicki Minaj and Slam Poetry have in common? They both show just how powerful words can be.

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