Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé are the dynamic duo of modern hip hop, rap, and R&B. One of them started out as this tough and gritty kind of character while the other was the poster child for purity and demureness.
So imagine my surprise when these two decided to start blowing up the Internet.
I mean, it’s not like Nicki stayed gritty and streetwise; she eventually moved in a more pop direction because that’s what the people wanted. And if she wanted to try it out, I wasn’t about to judge. She just wasn’t someone that I would’ve paid money to see. Beyoncé, on the other hand, was always singing about how she wanted some dude’s approval or how she felt slighted by some guy. Always talking about how she can cater to someone or do better than some girl her guy had been with. Just petty. So Beyoncé, while I could get down with a couple of her songs, wasn’t really my thing either.
But Lord, I ain’t a hater no mo’! I am DELIVERT.
Beyoncé is out here dropping surprising(ly raunchy) albums and Nicki is out here back to dropping bars. And I am 100% about that life. More importantly, I am 100% about what they’ve got going on in the music video for “Feelin’ Myself”.
For one, let’s talk about the sheer amount of grrrl power in one video. Queen Nicki is already known for saying some heavy pro-woman and pro-girl stuff. And Beyoncé has shifted from her outward need for male validation to female empowerment. Their dedication to those of us who identify as female shows in this video that plays on the themes of healthy woman to woman relationships, girl power, and carefree black girls. I like to think that Beyoncé has been taking some notes from her hipster icon sister Solange, but I’m more than a little biased.
And the sexuality! This video made me rethink some things in my life. One thing that it really made me think about was my role in respectability politics and slut shaming of other women. This song in and of itself is about personal empowerment, and it’s no secret that they mean this to include sexuality. But to drive the point home, the “art heaux aesthetic” of one-pieces and thigh-highs is prominent in this video; in fact, there’s so much open display of the female figure, it’s hard to be mad. This whole video is unapologetically sexual, which is especially important considering that black women are continually shamed for their sexuality both from outside of the culture and from within. To see two conventionally fine black women flaunting their sexuality in a video that caters to the female gaze as opposed to the male gaze is refreshing.
Also: it excites me that Beyoncé can’t roll her tongue. I finally have a power that she doesn’t have. #petty.
But for real, Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé in this video are serving up my life. Squad goals. Bestie goals. Bae goals.
The whole video is goofy (and even exorbitant in the case of the College Tuition Champagne, if we’re to believe most accounts), but isn’t that the point too? This isn’t some serious analysis of pop culture’s role in dismantling the patriarchy nor is it an intimate song for you and your boo to get down to. The song itself is something cute and a little ratchet for you and your girls to scream along with when you’re busy trying to out-drink each other. The video reflects this in its playful spontaneity and casual atmosphere; muted candy tones reminiscent of summers filled with Boone’s Farm and awkward hormones. The video’s emphasis on female friendship and the feminine gaze is its key selling point here, which is precisely why it broke the Internet.
With videos like this and Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” cropping up at the beginning of this summer, I’m pretty excited to see exactly how many positive portrayals of female friendships we’ll see in the media beyond so-called “broad comedy”.
alex is a nerd in that un-cute way, like the comic book guy in the simpsons. just don’t get her started on science fiction or nonfiction documentaries. otherwise, she enjoys things that require an acceptable amount of commitment such as web-series, role-playing games, and cats. @oawash_