What does Cardi Vs Nicki beef have to do with cultural appropriation?

Unless you live under a rock, you’re probably aware of the ongoing feud between rap sensations Cardi B and Nicki Minaj. Cardi B grew to fame in a unique way:  she’s a stripper-turned-social media personality- turned- reality TV star-turned- international platinum selling rapper from the Bronx, New York. Cardi first captivated the hearts of the public with her raw, no-filter, keeping-it-real persona, that she initially showed us through her Instagram videos, then later through her two-season appearance on VH1’s hit reality show, Love and Hip Hop: New York. Since then, Cardi has capitalised on her persona of a hood girl from the Bronx that turned into an overnight superstar and has used this as the cornerstone of her brand and empire. Cardi B has been frank in her interviews about growing up in a mixed Hispanic and Caribbean home, previous feuds with other females and has been open about her past career in stripping. She told her story to the world, it captivated us, she gained huge worldwide popularity and likeability and she made a lot of money, simply for showing, and staying true to who she really is.

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Nicki Minaj is no newbie. She is also from New York, Queens, and has been active in the rap game for over 14 years, was co-signed by one of the biggest rap artists, Lil Wayne and has a net worth of over $75 million. On the press tour of Minaj’s new album, Queen, she has been brutally honest with her opinions of people in the industry and though her interviews were intended on promoting her music, she did spend some time addressing the many feuds she has in the industry, including those with Lil Kim, Remy Ma, Safaree, Travis Scott and even blamed Travis Scott’s partner Kyle Jenner and their baby daughter Stormi for why her album debuted at #2 on the Billboard charts, behind Travis’ album, Astroworld. Nicki also addressed Cardi B in several interviews, alluding to the fact that her label paid DJs and stations to promote her music and implied that a lot of Cardi’s success and popularity in the industry is non-genuine and has been bought. Aside from their industry beef, it is alleged that Nicki Minaj has also liked some tweets speaking negatively about Cardi’s parenting abilities and also negative tweets regarding Cardi B’s new born child, Kulture.

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Earlier this week, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj enaged in a physical confrontation at the Hapaar’s Bazaar Icons event at New York Fashion Week. During the confrontation, Cardi B allegedly threw her shoe towards Nicki Minaj, lunged at her several times and called her out for a physical fight. Nicki Minaj stayed non-violent, protected by several security personell, while Cardi was more physically involved and had to be held back on several occasions by security.

Source: TMZ

 

Of course, news of the Nicki Vs Cardi altercation hit every urban blog and outlet and it spread like wildfire. I spent some time going through the reactions and comments on Instagram and Twitter and to be honest, I was really quite shocked at the public’s reaction.

 

 

Let me begin by saying, I do not condone violence in any way or form, especially between women, and successful women of colour at that. I believe in non-violent resolution of issues and would have much preferred that the altercation did not end this way. However, when I read some of the comments, the common narrative was of shock and surprise at Cardi B. People accused her of being “hood” and “ratchet” and not conducting herself in a “classy” manor. Whether any of this is true or not, I’m dumbfounded at the fact that people are in shock, as this is consistent with the rest of her brand, image and the very reason she rose to fame in the first place.

The public are so used to the appropriation of hood culture, that when somebody who is authentically hood, acts it, it’s a massive surprise. Unlike some of your favourite celebs who appropriate the “hood” or “ghetto fabulous” image with the slang they use, clothes they wear, way they style their hair and nails, Cardi B is actually authentically living the life that your faves have appropriated and caricatured. She did not fabricate her persona for branding purposes, it grew organically from the way she is, and she capitalised on it. There’s a big difference.

The public is so used to seeing the manufactured Kardashian version of what they market as “hood” (stripper-like bodies, grills, long eccentric nails, and let’s not forget ‘boxer braids’) that when they realise that Cardi B is actually who their faves have been pretending to be all along, it makes them feel uncomfortable. Anybody from the hood will testify that the way Cardi B acted was completely as expected. Again, let me stress that that does not make it right. However, according to street law, when you run into somebody that you’re beefing, aka your ‘opp’, it’s normal to confront them, on sight, no matter the location or circumstance. That’s the hood way.

 

When words like “ghetto” and “hoodrat” are used, it just goes to show that society is really not ready to accept all that comes with hood culture: it picks and chooses the parts that it can gentrify and make money out of. It’s okay in photoshoots, fashion shows and on social media, so long as brands and corporations can mimic, steal and make money out of hood culture. However, let’s never negate the fact that inner city hood culture is very much riddled with violence, confrontation and personal/territorial wars and beefs. There are deep rooted issues and a lot of unlearning that needs to be overcome that people who came from disadvantaged neighbourhoods need to address, especially if they are transitioning to a life in the public eye. According to the industry and publicity, this incident has been seen as damaging to Cardi B, however, according to the streets, she is going to be hailed, for not backing down and standing her ground, no matter if she was at New York Fashion Week or on a street corner or bodega in the Bronx.

 

The public wanted that raw, street, edgy slick mouthed female rapper. It was what was missing in the industry. It found that in Cardi B. It’s okay to sing along with her lyrics and say “okurr” every now and then but when she actually showed that, this is the real her, not a facade or caricature conjured by corporate executives, the public were shook. They wanted hood, but not too hood. How unprofessional.

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