Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, and the public's obsession with female rap beef
Although Cardi B and Nicki Minaj publicly fought only a few months ago, we have been anticipating this feud for a while. Both rappers' fans want their respective idol to outshine the other and emerge as the Queen of Rap. But other fans are disappointed. They argue that encouraging this feud perpetuates sexist ideas about women, that women should lift each other up, not compete.
This constant tiff between rappers is not new, especially since they are both women. Male rappers beef all the time but we don’t always give the same attention to them as we do to female rappers. Female rappers are encouraged to compete with one another, which sends the message that while there is plenty of room for men at the table, there is only one seat for a woman. There are countless male rappers, and many coexist or beef without feeling like they need to emerge as the King of Rap. On the other hand, female rappers can almost never coexist and are constantly fighting for that one spot.
Speaking about the “sexist female rapper paradigm behind their feud,” mentions a piece from the Atlantic in 2010 in which writer Tyler Lewis spoke about the pressure female rappers feel to not only be a certain way, but to compete with each other. “The message that the mainstream record-buying public has sent to the industry is that it doesn’t much care about female emcees unless they are larger-than-life caricatures that tragically reinforce and celebrate white beauty standards and cartoonish, one-dimensional sexuality that fronts like it is all about female sexual agency when it isn’t. And there is only room for one,” Lewis said.
Our world today, for the most part, is trying to move past old ideas about women that say it is natural for women to be catty and always in competition, but it seems the rap industry is not on the same page. The question we should ask is if women competing against each other is constructed and created by societal pressure, rather than natural.
Cardi B spoke to last October, saying that no matter what, people want her to fight Nicki Minaj. “I feel like people wouldn’t even be satisfied if me and her was making out on a freaking photo, I feel like people just want that drama because it's entertaining," Cardi said.
While male rappers have dominated rap for decades, female rappers have been fighting for equality and representation within the industry for just as long. Women continue to fight to be seen as more than entertainment. It should be about their music — if it is good or not and if they have talent or not, but it often becomes about what they do and don't wear, who they date and most notably, who they feud with.
“I always feel like I’m getting compared to other females. It’s kind of stupid because they don’t do that to the male counterparts. They all coexist, you feel me?” said Dreezy, a female rapper from Chicago, in a article. “I think last year might have been one of the years that we had the most collab tapes from artists. But when it comes to females, it’s like the pit of death, like crabs in a barrel."
Not only in rap, but in many careers, women are pinned against each other and feel the need to tear each other down in order to prove their worth. While Nicki Minaj and Cardi B may not necessarily be trying to prove their worth, it seems their feud is rooted in fighting to be the Queen of Rap. Cardi B took to Instagram and said that Nicki Minaj was jealous of her success since Nicki Minaj was accusing Cardi B of using payola — paying people in a position to promote a song or album — alluding that Cardi B did not actually earn her success.
Women aren't biologically wired to be catty or to be in competition with one another, but regardless, we, from a young age, are conditioned to do so. After all, there is only one Queen Bee, who all the boys want and all the girls want to be. In many ways, girls are fighting to be the Queen Bee. Whether it's competing to be the most popular girl in school, a doctor, lawyer or rapper, women feel that they always have to prove themselves and in order to do that, they often tear each other down in the process.