by Cate Engles
Competition doesn’t always come to blows, but it did for Cardi B and Nicki Minaj when their rivalry was exploited by the media. These talented female rappers’ sizzling “beef” has created a national debate over who is better, yet what is truly appalling is that there is a debate at all. In his article from NBC Universal, “Cardi B vs. Nicki Minaj: The truth about hip-hop’s most colorful female rivalry is more complicated than it looks,” Jayson Rodriguez gives his reasons for why Cardi B is the better rapper. Though I agree Cardi B has a true gift in hip hop, I do not believe that there is a better of the two, nor do I believe there needs to be only one on top.
In this highly competitive world, it seems obvious to compare the two artists since they are categorized by the same genre. Rodriguez does it when speaking about the track both Cardi and Nicki featured on, “MotorSport,” a collaboration with music trio Migos. He analyzes their verses and concludes: “Cardi was candid. Minaj was defensive.” It seems excessive here to differentiate the two verses since they were compiled into the same song with the same message. The song even turned out to be a hit in the end, reaching number six on Billboard’s Hot 100, proving that there is really no need to pit the two against each other. The author also implies that when Cardi emerged into the hip hop spotlight, Minaj was “uncomfortable with the thought of another planet entering her previously empty solar system.” With no actual proof that she felt this way, there, once again, seems to be an obsession with instigating a discussion over who is the superior rapper.
It must be said that competition and the genre of rap go hand in hand. Historically, aspiring artists would battle with their raps, which often insulted the other person in some way. This would create feuds among rappers, a famous one being between Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G also known as the “East Coast/West Coast” feud. For these rappers, the competition allowed them to increase their popularity, and thus their record sales as well. While the competition between the two can be deemed helpful in this case, it is pointless to have one between Cardi B and Nicki Minaj, specifically when evaluating their public presence.
While simultaneously being in the spotlight and dealing with the drama of this hovering question, both ladies have been victims of constant ridicule of not only their music but their public presence as well. As a listener of both their music, I can distinguish differences, yet there are none that make me like one album’s style more than the other. Minaj’s “Pinkprint” and Cardi’s “Invasion of Privacy” are equally empowering to young women and are lyrical masterpieces. And even with popular albums, critics feel the need to comment on one of the two artists’ current popularity. Rodriguez argues that, “it’s good to be Cardi B right now,” but we cannot forget that it was Nicki who has been releasing raps for years. Additionally, both women have incredible accomplishments; Nicki Minaj was the only woman to make it on the Forbes Hip Hop Cash Kings list, and Cardi B got her “I Like It” music video to number five in the world, and she was even pregnant during the filming of the video. Obviously, there is no room here to argue that one is less inspiring than the other once evaluating both of their triumphs.
Fans obviously have a right to listen to any artist they prefer, but to determine which of these ladies has a better fan base is impossible. The two have over 30 million Instagram followers that religiously keep up with their daily posts, yet Rodriguez still believes that “[Nicki’s] scarcity also benefits Cardi B, who has moved into the vacuum left by Minaj’s relative absence.” Here, there is obvious application of the zero sum game that women often have to play. When one is succeeding, the other cannot and vice versa, or so it seems to Jayson Rodriguez. There is also reasoning behind Nicki being out of the spotlight: after accepting several awards for her multi-platinum albums, she split with her boyfriend of two years, Meek Mill. Dealing with personal life issues is as hard as it is, and there is no mercy for women in the spotlight since competition does not take breaks, at least in the eyes of the media.
It is possible for two women to share the title of “Best Female Rapper,” and Rodriguez acknowledges this in his article saying, “…perhaps there’s room for more than one crown in this kingdom.” This statement is one I can agree with, for it is achievable, and there is evidence to prove it. Two successful women can even join forces to empower other women. Take two other artists of a different genre, for example. Lady Gaga and Florence Welsh (of Florence + The Machine) combined and co-wrote the song “Hey Girl” for Gaga’s album “Joanne.” Not only did two women with similar audiences create this song together, but it is even based on the idea that girls should be supporting one another, not “one-upping each other.” This is an important idea and should be related to the Cardi B versus Nicki Minaj case. It is extremely difficult to be a woman in the music industry, and 90s female rapper Missy Elliot has admitted that “if a man had done half the records that I’ve done we would know about it,” when she spoke about the lack of recognition for her songwriting. Jayson Rodriguez does recognize this difficulty of being a female rapper in the news by saying, “The criticism can be cutting. The judgment unforgiving” which I’m sure Elliot and all aspiring female rappers can attest to.
Instead of arguing that Nicki is better than Cardi or that agreeing that Cardi is “hotter” in hip hop right now, I can only reason that there is no necessity for either decision. Both women are extremely gifted and should use that to their advantage. Too often do women feel the need to vie for the top spot, while their male counterparts are honored fairly equally regardless of their standing. And with this understanding, these two flames should combine into one fire. A collaboration could shine at the paramount of Billboards Top 100 brighter than one lonely star.
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“I Like It (Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J Balvin Song).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Nov. 2018,
“Migos MotorSport Chart History.” Billboard, Billboard, www.billboard.com/music/migos/chart-history/hot-100/song/1051236.
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Robehmed, Natalie. “Why Competition Is Good For Hip-Hop — And Business.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 15 Aug. 2013, http://www.forbes.com/sites/natalierobehmed/2013/08/15/why-competition
Rodriguez, Jayson. “Opinion | Cardi B vs. Nicki Minaj: Hip-Hop’s Colorful Rivalry Is More Complicated than It Looks.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group,