Lessons From Nas: No Idea’s Original, Nicki Minaj, and The Influence
Everyone who knows me well, knows that Nas is my very own savior in rap; whether he believes it or not. For several reasons. But I’m not here to detail you my life long’s story of devotion to his music. What I will do, is teach you something that I learned through him.
Being a hip-hop fan throughout adolescence has many perks that doesn’t come with many other genres; that’s growth and development. Hip-hop is one of the few, if not the sole musical art that (can) allow you to experience these dramatic changes with an artist, as you experience your own simultaneously.
With that said, Nas’ “No Idea’s Original” came to recently, when an article on hip-hop compared all female rappers following the success of Nicki, as immulators. The New York Time’s article on Nicki Minaj entitled, “Nicki Minaj is the Influential Leader: A Singular Influence” presents many undeniable claims about Minaj as an influential leader, (which is obviously true), but some things within it did trouble me, however.
In short, emulating Nicki Minaj isn’t hard, because there’s so much to play with. It’s possible to take just a part of what she’s done and come off as refreshing. And that’s just what a new wave of female rappers has done. – Jon Caramanica
Caramanica then goes on to discuss Azaelia Banks, Iggy Azalea, and Brianna Perry as if they were clones of Minaj, created solely to immulate her style and attempt to take-over her market. The obvious comparison many talented female rappers will have to undergo is the ultimate, of course, which is currently Nicki Minaj. But the problem with this, is that it makes women in rap seem as if they’re a new phenomenon.
While Nicki Minaj continues to pave her own road of success, there’s a whole new wave of women in rap who may have been inspired by her path and evolution in the music world, but are not necessarily attempting to do the same as she, nor hit the same expanding audience.
No idea’s original. Just because someone else is driving in the same lane as another, doesn’t mean they have the same destination in mind. I think it’s easy for some critiques to compare women in rap to Minaj because at one time she was the sole commercial and mainstream face in the industry. And largely remains to be so. But she certainly wasn’t the first, and will not be the last.
It is telling though, that this new wave of women in rap have sprouted in larger numbers on blogs, television and radio because Minaj has proven a demand for more women voices in the industry, as have had to been proven in years before from Queen Latifa, Salt-N-Pepa, MC Lyte, Lil Kim, and so on and so forth.
As the modern-day influence, Minaj has catapulted to another height that we definitely will not see re-emerge for years on end following her reign; but her reign is belonging to the path she is sculpting. Just as Iggy, Banks, and Brianna may carve out a special place for themselves in rap history, as well.
Nas’ song is true because it relates to the cycle of life. We are inspired to act, and our actions in turn will inspire. But the next act won’t necessarily look the same as the first, or even be related to it. To be influenced is not to be replicative, but to cite a place of origin with a new idea.
No idea’s original, there’s nothing new under the sun
It’s never what you do, but how it’s done- Nas