Tha American Idols
Nicki Minaj recently added “American Idol judge” to her resume. The look was definitely a step in the right direction for her career. American Idol will introduce Nicki to an audience that might not be very familiar with her. Nicki Minaj’s mainstream career looks brighter than ever. But what about hip-hop? Will this move take hip-hop to new heights at the mainstream level? Will this open the doors for more rappers on mainstream media? Does this mean that rappers are now “white people friendly?”
Although it might look like a win for hip-hop, it’s far from it. If anything, it hurts hip-hop. Everybody has their own definition of hip-hop and nobody has supreme authority in setting a definition. But we can all agree that Nicki doesn’t “represent” hip-hop. To an outsider, she might be a rapper, but for those on the inside, she’s just a hip-POP artist. Through American Idol, Nicki has become the ambassador for hip-hop. Is this how we want to be looked at? It distorts the general public’s view of hip-hop. I don’t see how this move opened the doors for dudes like Kendrick Lamar or Yelawolf to judge singing reality shows. If you’re a rapper and you want to get an $8 million check from Fox, you better call up Red One for some beats.
I’m not bashing Nicki for taking the job. She had nothing to lose, besides $8 million of course. It’s not like people would accuse her of going mainstream. This was a no-brainer for Nicki and she didn’t accept the job to purposely damage the hip-hop community either. Taking the job introduces her to a new audience that might not be all familiar with her. AI’s ratings might be plummeting, but millions of people still watch the show on a regular basis. Becoming an American Idol judge might turn out to be one of the best decisions Nicki has ever made.
Unfortunately, not all is good over here in rap city. Nicki’s appearance on American Idol gives the general public a distorted view of hip-hop. Not everybody visits KillerHipHop and stays up to date on their hip-hop. Hip-Hop might be one of the most dominating genres in America, but we’re still getting outsold by Pink. A lot of Americans are still strangers to the hip-hop culture. American Idol and hip-hop target different markets. While AI targets people between 18 and 49, hip-hop targets people between 15 and 25, not that people that are 25+ get left out, just that the 15-25 market is the meat of hip-hop. Without question, hip-hop is being presented to a brand new audience and Nicki is the messenger. Now, can we trust her to deliver our message. She’s there as a pop star/rapper hybrid with an emphasis on the pop star. Nicki beez rep’n rap on American Idol. That doesn’t make me proud.
The move also sends a message to all rappers wanting $8 million American Idol checks. Start making pop tracks. Tracks like “Super Bass,” and “Starships” made Nicki a household name. Most rappers don’t want to be on American Idol anyways, but $8 million paychecks are tempting. Basically, this proves that selling out works. Nicki did it and look at her now, she’s gettin’ paper.
Hip-Hop doesn’t benefit from this move one bit. It gives people a distorted view of hip-hop and it tells other rappers that selling out works. The key to the hip-POP flood gates just landed on our laps. It’s only a matter of time before someone picks it up and turns it. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear even more David Guetta rap collabos. We must keep our integrity as a genre. Expansion is good but there has to be balance. We can have a “Swimming Pools” and we can have a “#HiiiPower.” Rappers can cross over as long as they remember to cross back. Now that’s what I call an American idol.