Anyone who's watched Nicki Minaj perform live concludes there's something strange about this performer. Some people dismiss her stage antics as mere abstract artistry, while others sense something far darker.
I tend to fall in the latter camp, especially after reading articles where Minaj asserts that her mischievous male alter ego Roman Zolanski, is a demon living inside of her. If the profanity-laden and poetically disturbing images in her music weren't enough to get me as far away from Minaj's music, such assertions of demonic influence and multiple personalities certainly do.
But people certainly are feasting on Minaj's material; in 2010 alone she made 14 appearances on the Billboard Hot 100. Her debut album, Pink Friday, was certified Platinum in the U.S. and U.K. She's been nominated for countless awards, most recently for best hip-hop song and best hip-hop artist in the Teen Choice Awards.
So what are these people listening to? Adam R. Holz from Focus on the Family's Plugged In says it better than I could:
"One minute, Nicki's singing from Eminem's Slim Shady songbook, stepping into her violent, mentally unstable and male alter ego, Roman Zolanski. Among other things, Roman likes to kidnap women who offend him and starve them to death in his basement. The next minute, Nicki's a straight-up gangsta rapper, proudly and filthily spitting some of the nastiest, most profane rhymes you've ever not wanted to hear about sex."
If ever a sound option was needed, it's here.
It's difficult, if not impossible, to find a single artist that captures the admittedly schizophrenic stylings of Nicki Minaj. (Holz calls Minaj's latest project a "musical Frankenstein.") Nearly every one of her songs has a completely different feel. But Christian music does offer somewhat of a composite from several different artists.
For example, singer Melodie Joy
does a good job of capturing the vocal stylings of Minaj when she's singing. Check out the song "L.A."
--which is about not needing to fit into the world's definition of beauty to have worth--and "Saviour,"
which simply refrains: "We need, we need, we need, we need a savior!"
On her Facebook page, Melodie recently wrote, "Beyond (digusted) at what's happening in our country! It's time to wake up, Church; pray and stand up for God's principles, not our own!" Melodie Joy's music seeks to relevantly shake a generation out of complacency.
When she's rapping, Society Revival's new artist TeTe
is as good of a comparison to Minaj as I've heard, with the former delivering the same sort of manic-aggressive delivery the latter's fans have come to expect.
"Get Wit It" provides a fierce, high-speed lyrical attack that draws instant comparisons to Minaj, while passionately expressing love for the Savior with phrases such as "Jesus is da man!" and "No one on Earth could do what He did. He gave it all, He died for our sins! He killed death!"
Another turbo rap track is "Get Up," which is an emphatic yet lighthearted call to action.
Like Minaj, TeTe switches between rapping and singing, providing a very different auditory experience with each medium. While Minaj's singing adds a lighter element to her music, TeTe's singing carries a more Gospel-feel, darkening the sound a bit. This is probably the area of greatest difference with Minaj, but the rapping is similar enough to attract new fans.
Some of the best tracks from Outta My Witts include "Get Wit It", "They Don't Stop" (featuring the equally aggressive C-Phresh), "Get Up" and "U Suck"--a song with an admittedly edgy title/chorus that lobs barbed personal insults at the devil.
TeTe isn't just paying Jesus lip service, either, to qualify as a Christian rapper; she broadcasts a no-holds-barred, passionate diatribe of her spiritual convictions--which include plenty of assertions that Jesus is her hope and salvation.
"They say that I'm crazy, but spreading this good news just feels amazing!" TeTe recently wrote on her Facebook page. "In the midst of a dying world, we're screaming revival is here! We are the revival!"
Another artist worth mentioning in this context is the singer-rapper Jai
, whose excellent 2011 album, Culture Shock
, provides a few dance club-friendly hooks that would reel in a Minaj fan. Songs like "Calling You"
, "Dancing for You"
Jai's themes include sexual purity, being sold-out to Jesus and the holiness of God--a far cry from sexual promiscuity and the violence of the chart-topper.
So while there's not one artist who captures the essence of Nicki Minaj, there are artists who offer the three pieces of her hits: club hooks, pop vocals and aggressive rapping--all with Christ-honoring lyrics and positive themes.
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