THE RISE OF OUR ROYAL MATRIARCH, QUEEN ONIKA
I have so much respect for Nicki, in complete honesty. It was something that has developed over time with the more i learned about her. I’ll still be honest, when i first discovered her on 2008’s Gucci Mane remix of Freaky Gurl, along with Lil Kim, i figured she was nothing special. I used to think Nicki was a bad clone of Lil Kim. I would listen to The Jump Off or Shut Up, Bitch or Junior Mafia’s Get Money & get my fill of raunchy, gritty NY rap from the Queen Bee. This was actually the main thoroughfare into Nicki, as she was heavy on the mixtape circuit with sizable support from Brick Squad & DJ Holiday. I wasn’t even necessarily really into Gucci, OJ Da Juiceman or Waka back then but everyone else was. I was in the car with a friend when he played the the 8 minute Brick Squad posse track Coca Coca from Gucci’s Burrprint 2 HD. I was like, “oh shit who was that on the last verse?” her Brick Squad “contemporaries” brought their C+ game but Nicki had the most polarizing verse on the song. shortly after Itty Bitty Piggy came to my attention but by that point, the name Nicki Minaj was seemingly already established. Beam Me Up, Scotty, the mixtape that hosted Itty Bitty Piggy, was making rounds around my high school & everyone knew her name.
that was 09, the year also she decided to take the Young Money mantle on a little heavier, solidified in the hyper popular Young Money posse track Bedrock. she released her debut album, Pink Friday, the following year under Young Money Cash Money direction. …we already know where it goes from there. what I never knew is that Lil Wayne had taken interest in Nicki long before 09. I thought that Gucci is was gave her the start in hip-hop she needed. not quite!
the interest in Nicki was initally taken by Big Fendi, the CEO of Dirty Money. after finding her via Myspace, he featured her on a volume of his DVD series The Come Up. The Come Up is in it’s 23rd incarnation currently. it was him that discovered & (re)branded Nicki, brought her to Young Money’s attention. The trio of Young Money, Fendi & Nicki combined their efforts for the buzz-building tape Sucka Free. around the same time, Fendi also brought her to Deb Antley’s attention to manage Nicki. who’s she? Waka Flocka’s Mom, who also was his [Waka’s] manager, along with formerly managing Gucci & Nicki. under Antley’s guidance, Beam Me Up Scotty, saw major success. & from there, it’s all a wrap. humble miss Nicki gives respect to all of her mentors in the roles they’ve played, despite the trouble that has brewed & continues to brew. it’s actually kinda funny how i started writing this the day that Fendi goes on the Breakfast Club to (conveniently) trash Nicki a month before the Pink Print comes out.
even with the various obstacles that stand in her way, our dear Onika remains a force to be reckoned with, an image & skill pair that has yet to be stopped, despite anything that happens to her. If nothing else, i pair Nicki with consistency & resilience, being one of the hardest spitters & hardest working people in music. knowing her history helped me develop that respect for her. as long as she remains herself, i’ll be a fan in her corner.