There have been two immediate reactions to Nicki Minaj's new video, "Anaconda":
1. "Hide your kids, hide your wife."
2. "Dat ass."
Rap Genius described the song as such: "a truly polarizing track, 'Anaconda' will either leave in you in amazement at the song's lyrical amplitude and colorful production or in pure disgust at the undeniably massive and rather uncomfortable sexual overtone."
But as we've learned over the years, things aren't always what they seem. It seems that Nicki is using her body to make sales, but it's something much deeper than that.
Nicki forgoes a conventional approach to attacking feminism and sexuality, but would you expect anything different? This is hip-hop -- a culture that says what's on its mind, despite how controversial it may be.
Plus, would the song have been trending if she decided to take the safe route? The song is doing exactly what she wants it to do, which is making money and getting people talking.
To those that believe celebrities have the duty to act as role models, I ask you to think twice. Celebrities aren't in the industry to help raise our nation's kids -- that's up to the family. If you think the video is "inappropriate," then don't let your kids see it. Change the TV channel, change the radio station -- it's that simple.
It's easy to misinterpret and assume the meaning behind the song when you're distracted by twerking and lap dances, but I urge you to watch it again -- here's why.
The video opens in the jungle, setting the scene early by calling out society's view of black women as exotic and animalistic. Her single cover, let's be honest, would not be creating as much criticism if she was a skinnier, smaller-booty-having white woman (like supermodel ads in magazines).
But since she's a black, female rapper in that pose, it's considered obscene. But she is not only calling out the media's portrayal of black women over the years; she's standing up for all women.
Nicki is speaking up for women to embrace their curves and to be confident in their body. Skinny girls used to be ideal, but now Nicki's body is closer to our generation's ideal. She is reclaiming sexuality for women.
However, she's receiving criticism for being sexual. That is the problem. Why can't Nicki be a sexual person? She's a grown adult, capable of making her own decisions. I see where the criticism comes from, though. We, as women, are tired of being treated like a piece of meat. We have a lot more to offer than our bodies. But aren't we, too, sexual beings? Do we not have desires and wants?
This brings us to the double standard of men and women that never seems to disappear, no matter how much it's recognized. Nicki is being called every name in the book for being sexual, yet we allow the men to still claim their throne as "ladies men" without them getting much backlash.
A lot of people are beginning to question Beyoncé's decision to feature Nicki on the "Flawless Remix," but it makes perfect sense once everything in the video was released. Beyoncé is known for being a feminist and went out on a limb on her last album by releasing songs that were more provocative and sexy.
She said it was a risk for her to do so, and was proud to show other women that they're allowed to be sexual, just as men are. Putting Nicki on the remix of the feminist anthem of the year, if not decade, was a smart move and further solidifies both of their missions to empower women.
The lyrics seem valueless to some listeners, but let's talk about the basics of music for a minute. Lyrics, while sometimes very shallow in our generation, often have double entendres, metaphors and puns that fly above the average radio listener's head.
Some double meanings are easy to spot (Lil' Wayne's "Lollipop" and Kelis' "Milkshake") while others take a few listens before we finally get it (Tupac's "Me and My Girlfriend"). So let's take a deeper look into Nicki's lyrics.
Nicki talk about her sexual relationships with drug dealers that bought her designer duds because they love her "ASSets." Her repetition of how "real" the relationships are and the visuals that we received further tell us that she is only seen as an object by them and the only feelings that are real are those of the lust for her body.
She entices with whipped cream and a maid costume, only to slice a banana into pieces (I'll let you figure that one out on your own). She shows a sense of power, a power that she wants to reclaim for women, especially women of color.
Out of all the men in the world, why would she put label-mate Drake as the "love/lust-interest"? Drake represents the wealth that she could claim by being with him. He represents the countless "rappers" that have objectified women in songs and music videos over the years, including Sir Mix-a-lot's original "Baby Got Back."
The Drake lap dance only further shows her power and feminist attitude because as he becomes enchanted by her sexuality, she holds the power. Rather than letting Drake touch her ass, she walks away leaving him drooling for more; she's tired of being an object of affection.
Nicki took a risk and knew she would ruffle some feathers with this song and video, but she's not dumb. It's all part of a bigger picture and it's up to us, as listeners and fans, to be sure we understand what she's throwing at us.