Nicki Minaj’s Category Fight With Grammys Turns Into Fight With Latto
“If you can’t tell by now that there is a concerted effort to give newer artists things that they really don’t deserve over people who have been deserving for many years, then you’re not paying attention,” she said in a lengthy video post about the Grammys’ move.
Nicki Minaj is protesting the Recording Academy shifting her “Super Freaky Girl” from consideration in the Grammys’ rap division to a pop category, saying that she would be OK with the shift if it were applied consistently to other artists that straddle the crossover line, which she believes is not the case.
“I have no prob being moved out the RAP category as long as we r ALL being treated FAIRLY,” Minaj tweeted late Thursday, in response to her submission being moved out of her chosen category. “If SFG (‘Super Freaky Girl’) has 2B moved out RAP then so does Big Energy!” she added, referring to the Latto hit of that name. “ANY1 who says diff is simply a Nicki hater or a troll.”
Later, Minaj posted a 17-minute video on Instagram expanding on her position. “If you can’t tell by now that there is a concerted effort to give newer artists things that they really don’t deserve over people who have been deserving for many years, then you’re not paying attention. And by the way, this is not to say any song is bad or any female rapper is bad. I always say this: Any rapper, female or male, that wins a Grammy, you should be fucking proud of yourself. But why is the goalpost only ever moved when it’s Nicki? Well, I’ll tell you why. They don’t want the people that they have in the industry to go up against me.”
Before Minaj took her thoughts public, the Hollywood Reporter was first to report that the Grammys had changed the genre category for “Super Freaky.” The switch was revealed amid the thousands of tracks appearing on the first-round ballot, which went out to Recording Academy voters this week.
“If ‘Super Freaky Girl’ is pop, then so is ‘Big Energy’,” she avowed in her Instagram video message. “If you move ‘Super Freaky Girl’ out of rap and put it in pop, do the same with ‘Big Energy.’ Right? Same producers on both songs, by the way, if you want to talk about it. So let’s keep shit fair.”
She indicated she would likely win in rap but has no chance in the category she was moved to. “Now what do you think is gonna happen when they start voting on these pop categories? And it’s a bunch of people, white or wherever they’re from, or older, and they have to decide between Nicki Minaj and Harry Styles, or Nicki Minaj and Adele? That’s purposely designed so Nicki is not in the (rap) category that we don’t want any competition in. Put her in there (in pop) so she has more competition and less of a chance to win.”
She continued, “They move the goalposts when it comes to me because in order for them to uplift the people who they want to shine, the people who these corporate giants can make the money off of, the people who control a lot of things behind the scenes, they have to elevate someone that they profit off.” She further expounded: “There is an agenda because I am not signed to a 360, and for years, there was a certain label that had to pay me nonstop for their features.”
Minaj expressed frustration at not knowing who is on the committee making these judgment calls, and hinted she has ideas about who wants her to lose. “Excuse me, Grammy board. Tell us everybody who made this decision,” she said. “And I noticed it was something weird when a certain person started recently saying out of nowhere, ‘Oh, “Super Freaky Girl” is pop.’ He’s always at the center of something that is happening against me. … Y’all, this shit has got to stop.”
To support Minaj’s position that “Big Energy” is at least as “pop” as “Super Freaky Girl,” a number of her supporters dug up a tweet of Latto’s in which she seemed to indicate that her big hit was not pure rap, with that artist writing at the time, “I got my pop song going up now.”
The Recording Academy doesn’t reveal reasons its screening committees shift tracks from the categories they were submitted in to other divisions. The general ballot, which can include thousands of submissions in a single category, isn’t released to the public. But as it went out to Grammy voters Thursday, insiders learned what kind of judgment calls had been made.
Objecting to submissions being shifted between categories is an annual ritual. Last year, Kacey Musgraves took issue with her song being switched from her chosen genre, country, to pop. Brandi Carlile also took issue with a number of hers being put in pop contention instead of American roots last year. In a previous year, Justin Bieber objected to being moved into pop for what he considered to be a straight-up R&B song.
In the case of “Super Freaky Girl,” it’s certainly a highly debatable call, as Minaj does rap through the entire song, with no singing, although the track makes such considerable use of the melody and other elements of Rick James’ “Super Freak” that it’s hard to hear her song without constantly flashing on the 1981 oldie.
Ironically, Minaj’s reconfigured, raunchy update was a bigger “pop” hit than James’ song was. His “Super Freak” went to No. 16 on the Hot 100 more than 40 years ago, while Minaj’s hit reached No. 1 this year.
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