Let’s make a few things clear before I dive into this op-ed:

1) “Looking Ass Nigga” tracks aren’t new. It’s a rhyme scheme that dates back over a decade.


“Looking Ass Nigga: Houston Edition” (There are Ohio and Cleveland versions too)

Lil Kim “Lookin’ Ass Nigga Freestyle” (2010)

2) The Malcolm X cover treatment wasn’t the best move from a marketing standpoint, but at least she offered an apology within 36 hours of the release.

Via Nicki Minaj’s Instagram profile:

“What seems to be the issue now? Do you have a problem with me referring to the people Malcolm X was ready to pull his gun out on as [sic] Lookin Ass Niggaz? Well, I apologize. That was never the official artwork nor is this an official single. This is a conversation. Not a single. I am in the video shooting at Lookin Ass Niggaz and there happened to be an iconic photo of Malcolm X ready to do the same thing for what he believed in!!!! It is in no way to undermine his efforts and legacy. I apologize to the Malcolm X estate if the meaning of the photo was misconstrued. The word ‘nigga’ causes so much debate in our community while the ‘nigga’ behavior gets praised and worship. Let’s not. Apologies again to his family. I have nothing but respect an adoration for u. The photo was removed hours ago. Thank you”

3) I don’t like the fact that I use the N-word, and I am one of those individuals that refuses to use it in public or mixed company. But I do and so do you. It is not going away, and it still has a negative connotation. Which brings us to the matter of this editorial. “Lookin’ Ass Nigga” slides Nicki Minaj back on the radar as a rapper and not just a pop star. Although she blends well into mainstream media (i.e. The Ellen Show appearances and fashion lines with retailers such as Kmart), she never fails to remind us that she is Queens bred with lyrics that speak to an audience begging for a female presence in Rap. I am a Nicki Minaj supporter—not because I think she is the best emcee of all time. I understand why she exists, and I agree that we need more female representation in the game. But I will not ignore the fact that she brings it on a track, whether it be solo or as a feature.

Cultural Appropriation & The Double Standard Used Against Nicki Minaj

Understand that the word nigga has power behind it, as our culture delves into its appropriation regardless of its negative origins. The theme of its use currently targets wack-ass dudes that ain’t about shit. Considering the amount of Rap tracks about bitches being greedy, ain’t about shit, needing to have that money, and respecting the dick, I am having a hard time feeling offended that Nicki took her turn with this. Removing every N-word aside, this track knocks. Lyrically, it’s a welcome return from Nicki’s pop princess adventures over the past few years.

For those that are upset and threatened by a woman using the N-word and coming at men in a straightforward way—that is a double standard. As a Rap and Hip Hop enthusiast, I have taken many a seat to men coming at my gender about my body, mouth, the way I should have sex, and how placing a drug in my drink is cool to do in the club. Are we mad at Nicki Minaj because she is using the N-word or are we threatened that an emcee, who happens to be female, turned the tables on a male-focused theme and decided to make a track that puts a few men in check?

Assessing how this track is disrespectful and perpetuates the demeaning of the Black race is one way to look at it. However, I cannot share sentiments for this backlash amongst fellow music heads that applaud French Montana, Gucci Mane, and Rick Ross on a constant basis. Why are we all up in arms when Nicki Minaj chose to keep it real on how ridiculous a group of grown men look drinking one bottle of Ciroc at a table? You can only get six pours out of it anyway. #factsonly


Mary Pryor is a transplanted Detroiter, living in Harlem, stuck in the early to mid 2000’s due to her obsession with all things Dipset and Slum Village. She is a techie, music lovin’ fashionista, boho health bad ass that has worked and written for Sony, MusicWorld, BET, Ebony, The Grio, Black Enterprise, Madame Noire, and Everyday Health. Follow her at @msmarypryor.