Just when we thought the "TOP 50 RAPPERS" lists had died, T.I. AKA Mr. ExpidiTIously decided to create buzz for his podcast, Netflix show, and a new song by creating his own list. Well, really, it was a panel of people on his podcast, but he was the loudest. So, his podcast created a TOP 50 RAPPERS OF ALL TIME list. The title alone tells you there was going to be some issues.
What really got people talking was a clip where T.I. and his panel ranked Lil' Kim above Nicki Minaj. This was when I knew the list was just a clout chase move. Nicki Minaj is the most popular person to use when you want to create a buzz for yourself. Let's not forget that T.I.'s Trap Museum had a throne that was split between Nicki Minaj and Cardi B. I did not see a throne for Lil' Kim.....I-Oop!
A little backstory, first T.I's Trap Museum released a Top 50 List, that did not include Lil' Kim or Nick Minaj. I suspect that the list did not garner any attention. So, T.I. decided to revise the list to include Nicki Minaj right below Lil Kim. They put Lil' Kim at #40 & Nicki Minaj at #41.
THE NEVERENDING DEBATE - LIL' KIM VS NICKI MINAJ
So, I am going to make an argument that Nicki Minaj deserved that #40 spot over Lil' Kim.
For the record, Nicki Minaj is in my top 10 list, while Lil Kim is not even in my top 50. I am just making a case for Nicki Minaj to be above Lil Kim on T.I's list and any other top 50 rappers list that may come out.
* Nicki Minaj has usually included in these lists, while Lil' Kim is not.
THE DOUBLE STANDARD OF INFLUENCE
In the video, you hear someone say, "Nicki would not be here doing the things she is doing if Lil Kim would not have (inaudible)." That is a false narrative started by Lil' Kim/fans in order to take credit for Nicki Minaj's success. Was Nicki Minaj influenced by Lil Kim...probably? Just like Nicki Minaj was definitely influenced by Jay-Z, Foxy Brown, Lil Wayne, Lauryn Hill, and Eminem. Yet those artists have not tried to lay claim to all of Nicki Minaj's success.
Now, let's look at a rapper who we know his highly influenced by other artists, big and small, Drake. Drake has admitted that Kanye West is one of his biggest musical influences. The influence of 808 Heartbreak on Drake's music has been documented. But, do people hold Drake hostage to Kanye or to any of his other apparent influences? No, critics and fans give Drake credit for what he adds artistically, despite the strong influence of Kanye. Why isn't the same done for Nicki?
My point is that when it comes to men, they are not held hostage to the artists who may have influenced them. We all understand that there is nothing new under the sun. We all have been influenced by someone, even Lil' Kim. We also all understand that even though someone may have paved the way for us, we can grow to be greater than them when it's all said and done.
So, this panel's argument has no basis because they are applying a standard that only Nicki Minaj is burdened with. Other female rappers aren't even burdened with this ridiculousness. No one would ever argue that Lauryn Hill could never be better than Queen Latifah because Queen Latifah did some singing and did not show off her body first. Do you see how dumb that sounds? Hell, I felt silly typing it. But, in an attempt to hate on and to dim Nicki Minaj's light, haters/media will act like Nicki Minaj's accomplishments are all due to Lil' Kim merely existing.
So I ask, can Nicki Minaj be better than Lil' Kim, even if she may have been influenced by her? Yes, and in my opinion, she is.
LIL KIM'S IMPACT
So, now that we have established that Nicki Minaj can be better than Lil' Kim, despite any influence you think Kim may have had on Nicki, let's discuss IMPACT. That was another reason TI's podcast put Lil' Kim over Nicki Minaj. Many people give Lil' Kim credit for ushering in the hyper-sexual female rapper (along with Foxy Brown). I will not dispute this fact.
Due to Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown's success, many other female rappers felt the need to follow that blueprint. Even female rappers who had success without being hyper-sexual attempted to be sexier. I will also give Lil'Kim and Foxy Brown credit for making high-end brands popular within hip-hop for women.
However, that impact was short-lived. That blueprint of the hyper-sexual female rapper that Biggie gave Kim stopped being profitable. Record labels eventually saw no value in investing in female rappers. So, what kind of impact do you really have if what you were doing was only successful for a few years and possibly only because Biggie was the mastermind behind the image? Once Biggie died, it became clear how much influence Biggie had over Lil' Kim's career. Lil' Kim was unable to use the blueprint of the hyper-sexual female rapper to keep herself relevant. So, did Lil' Kim have a real impact or just a Hip-Hop moment?
It probably did not help that at the time, we had the option of a Lauryn Hill. Lauryn Hill was viewed as multi-talented, she wrote her own rhymes, she was unproblematic, and she was not ashamed of being a dark skin woman.
In 2000, Lil' Kim dropped "The Notorious K.I.M.," again reminding fans of her connection to Biggie, while looking unrecognizable on her album cover. When she went from a cute Black girl to this, I feel this hurt her appeal. This album was successful, but this was the last time I paid attention to her musically. Lil' Kim was still doing the overtly sexual thing, but it no longer had that appeal, and Lil' Kim was becoming more known for the beefs than her music.
To be honest, Lil' Kim does not get the credit she deserves for creating the stereotype that female rappers don't get along. Lil Kim had public beefs with Foxy Brown, Eve, Charli Baltimore, Remy Ma, & added Nicki Minaj for fun. Lil' Kim does not restrict her beefs to just female rappers. She has also got into it with Puffy, Lil Cease, Faith, Biggie's mom, Naturi, Charlamagne, 50 Cent, Drake, Keyshia Cole, and who knows who else. But somehow, Lil' Kim's penchant for beef'n got laid at the feet of Nicki Minaj. But, that is a whole nother think piece.
NICKI MINAJ'S IMPACT
Nicki Minaj's IMPACT is more than a wig, more than being overtly sexual, more than some squat pose, and more than the title of "Barbie." Wait, I lied about the last one. You know it's always "BARBIE, BITCH".
Nicki Minaj's impact within the culture is so complex and still evolving, that it is not as easy, to sum up as Kim's impact. So, I will only highlight four ways Nicki has impacted the culture.
After the women who paved the way for Nicki Minaj dropped their shovels, Nicki Minaj picked up her pink shovel and got to work. Labels used Nicki Minaj as a guinea pig to see if it was worth investing in other female rappers. If Nicki Minaj had failed, I really do not know where female rap would be right now. Certainly, these social media personalities would not be able to call themselves rappers. Like Nicki said in her rap, Still I Rise, "Labels look at numbers and statistics..."
I always felt that is the reason Nicki Minaj posted her own stats. You notice that Nicki does not post her cars, jewelry, or plaques. She posts her stats because that is all labels and companies care about. The media does not share her accomplishments the way they do Drake. Drake does not have to post his stats because the media will post it three times a day. So, Nicki publishes her own accomplishments. Now, you see other female rappers doing the same. No need to wait for the media to do it because they probably won't unless you are a non-Black female rapper.
Not only did Nicki Minaj show that female rap was profitable, it never stopped being that way since Nicki Minaj signed with Young Money. Since Pink Friday's success, labels have been trying to find their own Nicki Minaj. Only in the past two years has female rap been more than just Nicki Minaj. Nicki was the whole genre for a long time. In 2019, you can go look on Billboard, and you will find more than one song feat. Nicki Minaj on it. What Nicki Minaj is doing is what Lil' Kim could have done, if she and Nicki were true equals.
IMPACT POINT: Lil' Kim ushering in hyper-sexuality vs Nicki showing labels that girls are worth investing in. Girls make a career out of rap vs it just being a hobby.
PUSH MY PEN
Nicki Minaj has been talking about how she writes her own rhymes since she came out of her mama's woohoo. Ok, maybe that is an exaggeration, but I'm close...lol.
Nicki Minaj is the reason you see so many girls talking about how they write their own rhymes. It is because they grew up hearing Nicki talking about how she pushes her pen. You do not have to search hard to see Nicki's influence. When you see a Megan Thee Stallion, Ms. Banks, Maliibu Miitch, Asian Doll, and the many other girls who let you know they do not need a ghostwriter, that is because of Nicki Minaj.
Now, obviously, men who run Hip-Hop would not view this as a positive thing. Nicki Minaj, inadvertently IMPACTED their wallets, because the girls no longer need them as ghostwriters.
IMPACT POINT: Lil' Kim ushering in high-end brands vs inspiring girls to be control of their own art and publishing. That is culture changing for women
POP GIRL / RAP GIRL
No matter what you think about Nicki Minaj going Pop, it worked, and that is all that matters. Nicki Minaj knew that being a girl from the hood who only rapped about the hood, was not going to take her where she was trying to go. Nicki probably would have fizzled out after 2-3yrs, and female rap would have been right back where she found it.
One of the things that Nicki Minaj does not get credit for is proving that female rappers do not need to show off their bodies in order to sell records. They just need to be interesting. Pink Friday sold over 375K in the first week, while Nicki was wearing stuffed animals and alien outfits.
I look at girls like Rico Nasty and Tierra Whack, and they remind me of early Nick Minaj.
Nicki Minaj is a Black woman who was able to be successful in two separate genres; Rap and Pop. That is IMPACT! Now, you see many female rappers following the Nicki Minaj PinkPrint, by trying to go Pop early in their careers.
IMPACT POINT: Lil' Kim ushering in hyper-sexuality and high-end fashion vs showing the girls how to have longevity
Due to the success of Queen Radio is why I believe LL Cool J gave Roxanne Shante her own radio show, why Trina is now doing radio, and why TI started his podcast. Rappers saw the success and the advantage of having their own platform.
Queen Radio shook the culture up in a way we have not seen in a while, and it was Nicki Minaj who did it.
IMPACT POINT: Lil' Kim ushering in hyper-sexuality and high-end fashion vs showing girls how to fight the industry
RESTING MY CASE
DON'T EVER PUT NICKI MINAJ BELOW LIL' KIM ON ANY TOP 50 RAPPER LIST. I wanted to give Lil' Kim a fighting chance, so I did not even mention stats or rapping ability. Nicki Minaj is not a direct reflection of Lil' Kim. That is what Lil' Kim wishes in order to boost her ego.
FYI - T.I. has really become a pathetic figure within Hip-Hop.