Freaks of the Industry

by Jamilah Lemieux

Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj are two of the biggest names in Pop music right now. Both women have made outrageous, risqué imagery their calling card. However, as media goddess and public intellectual Esther Armah recently pointed out to me, Gaga’s nudity and provocateur antics are hailed as performance art, where as Miss Minaj is discussed as yet another bawdy female rapper embarrassing the women of her race. Let’s ask ourselves homegirls (and homeboys): Why is that?

I see a few reasons. For one, where Gaga’s antics may spawn a few industry copycats and some imitators running the streets of New York (and as a resident, I can tell you that you could call “chicken” or “egg” when it comes to a lot of the Gaga-esque characters here), she’s not really having a profound influence on her listening audience. On the other hand, there are a whole lot of young sisters running around calling themselves “Barbies” behind Nicki. And an influencer is naturally going to be subject to a different vein of criticism, particularly when the group looking to her is relatively young.

While Gaga’s imagery is highly provocative, her music is pretty benign. On the flip, Minaj gives you a lot to look at (surgically enhanced out of this world curves, over the top outfits) and an earful at the same time. Both women are bisexual, but Nicki is the one talking to women the same way male rappers have spoken to us for years . . . like we’re bitches and hoes.

So while I can come up with a number of reasons why Nicki would be getting a bit more criticism than Gaga, there is still an uncomfortable reminder that hits me when I look at the two women’s aesthetics and how they are critiqued. In society, as it stands today, a Black woman’s near-nudity is not going to be called “artistic” (to be honest, I’ve seen a lot more of Gaga’s actual nude frame than I have Nicki’s). She’s gonna be called a freak. And while the rub here may be that the rapper is claiming the “freak” title . . . she was gonna be called that no matter what.

Could there be a Black Lady Gaga? Could a sister be free in the public space to be sexual and unclothed in that way? Can we get away with doing “artsy shit” like that? I don’t think so. I don’t think it would be possible, even in 2010, for a Black woman to escape the trappings of being a representative for the women of her race. And if there was one willing to take that step, I don’t think our folks would receive her so well. I can’t see a Grace Jones (do your homework—Madonna is not the only one Gaga is borrowing heavily from) doing well with Black audiences today. Erykah toes the line, but so much of her fan base had already “bought in” when she looked fresh from a poetry set . . . it’s hard to say how she’d be received if “Window Seat” were her debut video.

I’m not without my personal criticisms of Nicki Minaj; you can find some of them in the first half of this essay, and we don’t have time to get in to the rest of em (most of them have to do with adult imagery being peddled to child audiences). I’m also not Lady Gaga’s biggest fan either; I don’t love “art for art’s sake” and a lot of her shock value antics are kinda lame to me. However, I long for the day when a sister can be as absurd and naked and bold as she pleases without so much worry over the dignity of the race.

  • KIM

    So true, where do we draw the line… Is this what pop music has subjected to?

  • secretaddy

    I agree whole heartedly, the fact of the matter is that there is versatility in “whiteness”, it’s okay that lady gaga of pop is acting ridic, b/c for every gaga there is a Taylor Swift. For black women there is not a versatility in the manner in which we are constructed, so when one artist tends to maybe hit some stereotypes everyone is up in arms

  • Alexandra

    I’ve read where many people have made comparisons. Every artist is being compared to her.
    Not long ago, Alexandra Burke & Kelly Rowland were also being called ‘Black’ lady Gaga’s. WTF is a Black lady gaga anyway? Blacks are always the ‘black something’ lol.

    As you mentioned, we already know the answer to this. Black women dont have “that privilege” of doing outlandish things. That goes for everything else (sex tape, having an opinion)
    When they do, it’s: ghetto, hood, chimpout, etc; America has their double standards and it will never change, the country was founded on that.

    “However, I long for the day when a sister can be as absurd and naked and bold as she pleases without so much worry over the dignity of the race.”

    Keep dreaming, cause it will never happen. lol! Seriously….

    I dont care for these women either.

  • Marissa Dawson

    I appreciate the questions that this essay brings up but I think it is too harsh on Nicki. Before you think me a ” Barbie” know that I’m not but I have been listening to Minaj before she likened herself to Barbie. One NIcki has said she isn’t Bi-Sexual ( Vibe july 2010). Two: yes I think this barbie phenomenon is insanse but we dont talk about Beyonce feens. They are just as bad. Instead of blaming the artist let’s talk to the girls and (OMG) THE PARENTS!!! I always ask young women ” Why you wanna be Nicki Minaj when we got Michelle Obama?”

    I’m not embarressed my Nicki. I see young woman who hustled to get what she has. While she is hypersexual, I enjoy her imagery and am glad that women are apart of hip hop again. And to quote Nicki herself ” Cause if nicki win, then all of
    ya’ll gettin meetings “

  • Monie

    I’m not certain what the point of this article is. As far as I see Gaga gets criticized far more than Nicky does because she’s incredibly more famous. Also, for the most part nobody really sees Gaga as “sexy”, she’s provacative and over-the-top, but she’s no sex symbol. Most people find her grossly unattractive physically. While
    Nicki on the other hand, is a sex symbol first and a rapper second. Men and women want to sleep with her. She’s a fantasy and she plays that sex kitten role perfectly.

    People used to talk about Marilyn Monroe, Madonna and Cher like they were the biggest whores in the world in their primes. This isn’t about race or genre and it looks like your reaching to make that point.

  • Monie

    And as far as a black Gaga. Um have you seen Beyonce, Janet or Ciara. Beyonce performs like a stripper in heat and Janet practically screws on stage lol. I don’t get this article at all lol. We have always had black women who were overtly vulgar Betty Wright and Millie Jackson come to mind. And you can go back back to the Josephine Bakers and Ma Rainey’s. Black women have been serving raunch since vaudeville lol.

  • Judah

    I understand where you are coming from, but Lady Gaga has PASSED the line between art and being a sexual provocateur. She knows she famous and she knows what she’s wearing when she steps outside of her closet. She was not as Gaga as she was before the mania hit. It’s just a hype with is a shame because She has some real talent, beautiful voice, fantastic pianist, and insane performance ability and aesthetic.
    Nicki is also one that I feel is hype because she definitely was not like that before she became big. The criticism against is merited because of the music she writes. Both Gaga and Nicki know how to perform and please a crowd, but there is a line that I think both of them have crossed. Their acts need some editing

  • Lo’rann

    Hmmm. I’m sorry, bit Gaga takes more flack any day of the week over Nikki. Many dub her the freak! Matter of fact, in the main stream (white/univeral) market when compared to Gaga, Nikki is irrelevant. This articles a bit confusing, because I’m not sure if it’s examined properly, or if it could be.


    While I certainly appreciate this article and the perspective I’m not sure that I agree entirely. While both are provocateurs, I don’t think this is necessarily a case for race (and trust me, I always think it’s a case of race). Instead I think it’s a difference in the way each artist represents herself. The difference to me is clear: while GaGa may wear a thong on stage, most of her music is not sexually charged, while Nicki may be more covered and talking about being on the receiving end of a sexual act. Simply put, Nicki wants to be a sex symbol, GaGa wants to shock and awe so people approach both from that frame of reference when criticizing them. And trust, not that many people are actually so impressed anymore by GaGa anyway.

  • Wanett

    I made this same observation when the Telephone video came out. My husband remarked about his shock at Beyonce allowing Gaga to out naked her. I told him then that a white woman dancing in a thong is not the same as a black woman doing it. They start looking for the pole behind us…

  • Clnmike

    They both come off as copy cats (Nicki + Lil’ Kim, Gaga + Madonna/Grace Jones) for me to think that they really believe the hype of their own image. Gaga’s race however will give her the benifit of the doubt with the media.

  • Clnmike

    They both come off as copy cats (Nicki + Lil’ Kim, Gaga + Madonna/Grace Jones) for me to think that they really believe the hype of their own image. Gaga’s race however will give her the benefit of the doubt with the media.

  • A.C. Ford

    This article holds little merit for me as Grace Jones was doing the “Lady Gaga” before Gaga was born.

    I am a fan of Lady Gaga because I do see actual art in her performances and she can actually explain (intellectually) the aesthetic behind what she chooses to wear and/or create. What Gaga does stands for something (mostly human rights), and she’s very vocal about her love for her fans. Maybe those things aren’t crazy important, but they do effect her mainstream appeal.

    Nicki Minaj just turns me off. I don’t like how she seems to promote the hostility between black women that keeps so many from us from cheering for each other and instead tearing each other down.

  • bob

    Lady Gaga music has alot of meaning well I can say one like Fame when she showed how fame kills the artist and all the harm it brings while nikki is rapping about ” taking a dick in the but” but I dont listen to all nikki music so I don’t know if her music has more meaning she is a very talented rapper and what she does is entertainment but, she is affecting young black females to show them that sex will get them to the talk, and chicken head behavior

  • bob

    super typo “sex will get them to the top”

  • Jamilah-Asali Lemieux

    Perhaps you missed the reference to Grace Jones in the next to last paragraph. I’ve heard them both speak on their aesthetic and while Gaga breaks the fourth wall and discusses her choices more than Nikki, the latter has certainly created a character(s) and seems no less committed to them than the former. Worth examining, in my opinion, even if it’s not worth celebrating or embracing.

    And while I’m not a Nicki fan, I will say that she definitely DOES seem to show a lot of love to her “Barbs”…even if the idea of being a “Barb” makes my skin crawl.

  • Jason

    I think Gaga ought to write Madonna a royalty check every time she walks on stage. If she had any talent before now she is just a character and her music is vulgarly overrated. I like Nicki, people need to let her have her moment, who knows, she might show us something. I see Gaga not getting that much criticism for her “art” but more for being an ass.

  • TN

    Nicki is cartoon while Gaga is parody.

  • serenissima

    ‘I am a fan of Lady Gaga because I do see actual art in her performances and she can actually explain (intellectually) the aesthetic behind what she chooses to wear and/or create.’

    point. blank. period.

    i see the point of the article, but i feel like the author is definitely reaching… nicki is out there just to be out there. her costumes and performances are ABOUT being overtly sexy, while gaga’s are usually making a statement that also happens to be risque. it’s not ‘look at my boobs, look at my ass.’ its ‘look at me on these crutches covered in blood to represent the way fame literally kills celebrities’

  • Riley

    Nicki wasnt talking about putting anything in her booty-she said her “flow was tighter then a d____ in the butt”. Then you also state that you dont know her lyrics-so why would quote her, if you dont know her lyrics? On to the piece-America has double standards on everything. Yes, Gaga is less clothes sometimes and Minaj is in full tight fitting garments- but they are both using a ploy to get their music and message heard. Both women stated that they are for women rights, gay rights and unity in general. But its seems that most of this society is transfixed on the sexual images. Therefore, you have these women shedding their clothes to gain attention. Someone brought up Janet and Beyonce-what they do on stage does not equate to what they do off stage. Thats why they have “stage attire”.

  • L Upjumpsthe Boogie

    I’ll be honest, I probably am less critical of Lady Gaga because I’m actually a fan and she is not my race. We’ve all had our moments when we’ve met people who make you wish that they were simply not your race. Niki Minaj is one of those people for me. I’m just so sick of hearing female rappers who can only rhyme about sexual stuff. The more records she puts out the more she is putting out the message that everything you want in life can be obtained by sleeping with the right dude. And to be quite honest, whenever I see her I think of a hooker.

    People like George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Grace Jones have all had outlandish styles, performances etc. and were still respected. So why does Niki have to go the sexual route?

  • Speaking The Truth

    This comment section is just what I thought it would be. Unashamed worship and praise of Lady Gaga (Simply because she is White, and White women get are beloved in the Black community) and unabashed hatred of Nicki Minaj (Simply because she is Black, and in the Black community, Black women are hated).

    It’s very sad. Clutch is a mecca of Black female self-hatred.

    I love Nicki.

    Gaga is untalented crap.

  • Sparkle

    I used to think Nicki was copying Kim as well. But when you make the side by side comparison…the only thing Nicki and Kim have in common are the colored wigs/over the top outfits. Their flows/styles are completely different

  • Sparkle

    I think as sisters we are still struggling to seperate ourselves from being seen as the “overly sexual” stereotypes we have been portrayed as for so long. So to see a woman like Nicki Minaj makes some of us uncomfortable in a way. And the fact that she supposedly had surgery to make her the cliche King Magazine/video girl (small hips with an unrealistically-large butt). just adds fuel to the fire.

    The author asks the question “Could a sister be free in the public space to be sexual and unclothed in that way? Can we get away with doing “artsy shit” like that?”. I don’t think so either. We are still struggling with identity and sexuality, the “angel/whore dichotomy”.

    Personally, I like both artists. Nicki Minaj isn’t even over-doing it, with an overly sexual image in my opinion. She is more about having a unique style. I mean think about it! For those of us who are old enough to remember when Kim was on the scene, she was waay more sexual in lyrics and outfits. Hell, some of the stuff she used to say and wear make Miss Minaj look like a girl scout in comparison.

  • Kia Muze

    I don’t really think you can compare these two women in terms of their art, nor do I think either woman is really doing anything that we have not seen before. I enjoy them both for what they do, but while I feel like Gaga puts alot more thought into her agenda and I have an idea of what to expect from her as she evolves, I am interested to see what Nicki’s real agenda and message is and will be in the future. Pls check me out at my site, free downloads and new material :-) bless.

  • Fuchsia

    Great Article and you pose a valid question. For me the difference isn’t race. Nicki is an artist the same as Gaga except Nicki is an actress and Gaga is a portrait.

    Black Women these days aren’t like Nicki but the little girls that follow her now have someone to look up to and will have more room to change the face of the future especially as it pertains to pop music and culture.

    I’m not a fan of pop because “shock value” has never fit into my musical preference. It doesn’t make me like the music of an artist more or less, it only makes me look at them for the attention craving, media whores that they are not for the voices they possess …Voices that at one point had potential to make a difference. For Gaga it would be gay rights, for Nicki it was women’s equality in a male dominated industry (pertaining to equal pay). Neither voice will be heard, valued or honored in the broader spectrum because when faced with the fork in the road they made the choice to be pop stars.

  • isolde

    Geneva Thomas’ piece gave a more in depth take on the Nicki phenomenon.

    Often times, in these types of discussions about Nicki, people are quick to criticize without examining her behavior within a context. Look, Nicki is a symptom of the industry, not the problem. Which do you think is more difficult, being a white woman in the pop world or a black woman in the rap game? Cause, in case anyone hasn’t noticed, female emcees are like unicorns on urban radio these days, let alone top forty radio. Nicki is trying to carve out a niche for herself in a genre where most of the consumers are male. So to appeal to them, she invented a cartoonish, hyper-sexualized caricature. If she could carve out that niche by taking a page out of the Lauryn Hill playbook, then she would probably be doing that, but those types of rappers aren’t the ones getting airplay on the radio. And when you sit back and think about it, Nicki’s pretty clever because she knows that the industry isn’t about music these days as much as it is about branding. Hence the “Hirajuku Barbie.” So, who’s playbook is Nicki taking a page out of . . . Kim’s. And say what you want about Lil’ Kim, but she is arguably the most successful female rapper of all time. Kim has been in the game for like 15 years, and she’s still getting endorsements, recording, doing features, touring, socializing, etc., and the fact that Kim has a high profile disciple in Nicki only validates her status as Queen B.
    Lady Gaga isn’t battling sexism or racism in pop because female, pop stars are the norm.

  • Riley

    I totally agree with your statement.

  • Sparkle

    So true! Great perspective

  • strukhnos

    you mentioned badu and that she doesnt quite fit the bill but what about kelis?

  • Speaking The Truth

    Great points Isolde. In an industry trying to get rid of Black females as fast as it can, a sistah’s gotta do what a sistah’s gotta do.

    Go on a White blog and see Gaga getting ripped to pieces while Nicki is praised and Defended.

    Yeah right, that’ll happen.

    This is about race as clear as the sun will come up tomorrow.

  • A.D.

    Nicki Minaj has stated in an interview with Vibe magazine that she doesn’t date or sleep with women. Whether she is attracted to them, she hasn’t spoken on. But just because she has lyrics suggestive of bisexuality doesn’t mean she’s “claimed” the label, the way Gaga has explicity done in interviews. So to state “Both are bisexual” is an assumption. (Of course, this touches on nebulous arena of labeling sexuality–what exactly does it take for someone to be bisexual [or any other orientation, for that matter]? self-identification? or can the label be given without the person’s consent, so to speak?)

  • Ms. Anonymous

    For once, I have to say that I don’t think race is the major factor… but body image is. Nicki has always rubbed me the wrong way for the exact reasons you’ve listed (especially the way she refers to other women in her songs), but Nicki has, to be blunt, tits and ass. Lots of it. People don’t treat Coco, Ice-T’s wife who is a model, the same way they treat Kate Moss OR Naomi Campbell when she’s nude, because she’s so curvaceous. Something about hips, thighs, tits and ass implies vulgarity and blunt sexuality in our culture. It’s also presentation- Nicki tries to be sexy, Nicki wants men to want to f@#$ her. Gaga has never tried to appeal to heterosexual men the way Nicki does, and it’s sad to think that a woman so many young black women look up to has essentially built her entire career on a desire to be lusted after.

  • isolde

    Well yeah, it has a lot to with race and white female privilege.

    Lady Gaga is a shining example of what you can achieve when racism and sexism aren’t obstacles interfering with your chosen vocation. White artists like Britney and Gaga have way more latitude as performers and media personalities, and they are rewarded more handsomely for their trouble. Ask yourself whether a black woman that was as “unconventionally beautiful” as Lady Gaga could attain the same level of fame and success in the industry? Would Beyonce be as famous if she went through a psychotic Britney episode where she wielded an umbrella against the paparazzi with a shaved head and a crazed look in her eyes or performed terribly on stage with an exposed paunch at the VMA’s? Can you imagine the fall-out if Beyonce admitted to being a coke addict in a Vanity Fair interview like Lady Gaga? Beyonce’s overtly sexual performances are tolerated ON STAGE, and to hear Bey tell it, that’s not even her up there, it’s “Sasha Fierce.” Because she is black, when she is off stage, Beyonce is held to a standard of appropriateness that she has to maintain if wants to continue to appeal to the mainstream white masses.

    However, in hip-hop, it’s not just about race, but also gender. The majority of the most commercially successful female rap artists didn’t begin their careers as soloists. The best way for any aspiring rapper to break into the game is to be co-signed by an already established artist, especially if you are a woman. Lauryn Hill didn’t just fall out of the sky with a solo album, neither did Lil’ Kim, or Eve, etc. Nicki is the latest in a long line of token, female emcees in rap cliques (usually helmed by men), and just like the male underlings, assimilation is also expected of the women or else they wouldn’t be allowed in the group. Rough Riders was DMX’s clique, and what other woman could run with him besides the ill-est pit bull in a skirt? Lil’ Kim was originally Biggie’s artist, and Bad Boy/Junior Mafia couldn’t have asked for a better first lady to promote Bad Boy’s brand of glamour, raunch, and commercial excess. That’s why I can’t help but scratch my head when Nicky is singled out for her antics. I mean, what do you expect? She reps Young Money. Young Money camp is not the Fugees. They rhyme about sex and money, and they do campy videos ripping off Frank Miller comics and The Real World and such. Nicki is the perfect fit.

  • Love

    Nicki is ghetto and lame…sorry. She’s not artistic. When Lil Kim did what she did before she did it, people accepted it as raunchy art because she was actually GOOD. Nicki can’t rap and is overrated. She doesn’t wear anything particularly artistic…she just wears spandex and bright colors. I don’t see how we can compare these two on any level.

  • GoodGirl

    I agree, it’s a body image thing. Madonna is now seen as an innovator and what have you, but during the height of her career she deemed as very vulgar and offensive.

  • Shiva Amina

    @Sparkle…No disrespect, but if any of the topic had anything to do with ‘flow/styles’ there wouldn’t even be a ledge to stand on in comparing Nicki to Lady Gaga

  • Shiva Amina

    While some may have some type of ‘self-hatred’ I will never co-sign to being one of those people. While the outlandishness of their styles is not in question, my favortism for Lady Gaga has nothing to do with her race as much as the fact that I can enjoy her product in the company of not only my peers but adults of other generations that I respect without having to censor the work. When black female rappers and rappers in general find a way to express themselves without always refering to topics in vulgarity while using expletives I may be able to find some type of respect for what they have to say. My self-love gives me enough respect to not want to hear any woman refering to any other woman of any color as a bitch….period.

  • Shiva Amina

    @Speaking the Truth

    “In an industry trying to get rid of Black females as fast as it can, a sistah’s gotta do what a sistah’s gotta do.”

    Really? So what are we supposed to do next…sell our souls for a dollar? No form of oppression or prejudice has ever been overcome by succumbing to what was expected of the underdog. Maybe if it really is all about black versus white then individuals of the black culture need to do a better job of supporting those artists/icons that they believe are being squashed by the industry. Its obvious that Lady Gaga has no problem with record sales or even merchandising….can’t say that for most artists/icons of color. When we back those things that we so adamantly talk about so much then maybe those we admire wouldn’t have to go so far out of their way to ‘sell themselves’ and ‘do what they gotta do’ instead of just being the gifted talents they want to be recognized as.

  • Ola

    Lady Gaga is also very skinny. I didn’t realize it because the media makes thinness seem like it should be the norm, but looking at her next to Beyonce in Video Phone it is very apparent. Having a curvier body already makes you appear more obscene than those with more boyish figures.

    And other posters have commented that while GaGa presents sexual images she is not seen as a sex symbol (i don’t even know if you could call her sexy), and Nicky Minaj is overtly trying to be a sex symbol. In this case, race is one of the last factors in how the two artists are perceived.

  • Speaking The Truth

    Amina, I’m sorry but that sounds to me like blame the victim double-standard crap typical of any discourse in describing bias/discrimination against Black women. Just calling it like I see it. And please spare me that “Artists of color” garbage. I spoke of BLACK WOMEN because THAT is who is being pushed out. That “Women of color” bs is just that, bs. Another way to glorify White female flesh under some banner of pan-minority unity that don’t exist, because non-White females are just as prejudiced against Black women as those White ones are.

    So like I said, Gaga is being given a pass because of her White skin/White femaleness on a so-called “Black woman’s” blog, what a disgusting joke. And the excuses in these comment defending that no-talent bag of bones continue and keep getting more and more lame. So now Gaga is “Innocent” because she is bony, and Nicki is “Vulgar” because she is curvy.

    Clutch=A great example of how Black women hate themselves, period.

  • Monica

    Are you serious? No offense, but I don’t understand your point of view. How in the world is the promotion of the stereotype of black women as unintelligent and over-sexed (e.g., how Nikki presents herself) something we should respect? How is that showing love for black women? It seems like the contrary to me.
    I, for one, am sick and tired of the way black women are portrayed in rap videos and other types of music. Yes, white women are exploited, too (and I’m sick of that, too), but there is a broader range of white female representation than there is black female representation.
    These crappola is what little black girls (and grown black women who have low self-esteem) see and imitate. This is the worldwide representation of black women (remember: American music is popular everywhere around the globe).
    I know it may come off as old-school, but we should really be more conscious of how we view ourselves AND how we are portrayed.

  • fraulein17

    @ shiva are you seroius? lady gaga is ALWAYS talking about sex in her music ” dont want your money. just want your sex” (the song teeth from her recent album)

    and dont get me started on her interviews. an interviewer asked gaga “what kind of man are you looking for” and she said ” i just want a man with a big d***. nothing more” come on now!

    this is very interesting that this article was put up cause i was JUST gonna do a youtube video on something like this!

  • Fallible Sage

    Completely agree Clnmike

  • omg

    i’m really sorry but i couldn’t get past the first sentence:

    “Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj are two of the biggest names in Pop music right now.”

    excuse me?

    lady gaga has sold more than 10 million albums.

    nick minaj has sold … oh yeah, she doesn’t have any of her own (album) music out, really.


    talk about hype and pr and spin.

    clutch is so funny sometimes.

  • KarenC

    It’s all just entertainment. But the problem is when people can not separate entertainment from reality or when it is played so much it affects young impressionable minds that have not had a chance to develop there own identities yet. But in general I am still happy to see women doing there thing regardless of how or what they are always doing. 100% silk & satin pillowcases, hair wraps & more…

  • Akai*.

    Ah…finally an intelligent voice of reason. I agree 100%!

    You are right that Lady Gaga is criticized by other whites as was Madonna back in the day and Cher before her.

    Attributing every situation under the sun to race and whining about what someone supposedly can’t do, or what the white boogiemen won’t let a person do, are such cry-baby and victim stances. It’s typical, stale and easy since it doesn’t require or utilize critical thinking skills or any type of analysis.

    Seems to me it’d be her own black community a ‘black Lady Gaga’ would have to worry about the most as they’re far more likely to rip her up ‘n down than whites.

  • 2cents

    Black women have to desexualize ourselves to be seen as ‘artsy’. As the author said regardless black women are immediately painted as freaks and sexual objects. I think the reason Janelle Monae is taken seriously for her craft is because she wears a uniform of jackets and pants. She also doesn’t really sing about common relationship items so that also enhances her ‘artsiness’

  • Pingback: Nicki’s World « The Crunk Feminist Collective

  • brix

    Marketing, Marketing, Marketing… I’ll let you figure out the rest!

    oh and yeah Whites consider Gaga a slut… dont let it fool you. Black art? Lets talk about the poets and painters. The writers (not bloggers…no offense, but there is a HUGE difference), the sculptures, the designers. Hell lets talk about the Harlem Renaissance!

  • Glamarazzi

    There is no “art” in anything Gaga does. It’s all marketing. She’s a pop star lol. There is nothing deep or metaphorical about anything she delivers. She’s here to make lots of money and be famous. Gaga gets criticized more than any artist working right now because she is the brightest star, she really has no competition. Not even from Beyonce really. From album sales to tour revenue she’s in a league of her own.

    I think women in music in general are seen as sexual objects. This works to their advantage and it hinders their growth. Black and white women fight the same battles as far as sexual inequality goes, we just have the added strain of race.

    I’m always happy about the women who aren’t afraid to be sexual. From Salt n’ Pepa to Janet to Madonna to Courtney Love to Grace Jones. I don’t understand Janelle Monae. I find her to be weird for the sake of being weird. She’s created this entire fantasy world where she’s an alien and all this other nonsense lol. I think it detracts from her talent. But I digress.

  • Ansley

    “she’s not really having a profound influence on her listening audience. On the other hand, there are a whole lot of young sisters running around calling themselves “Barbies” behind Nicki. ”

    Gaga’s followers call themselves ‘monsters’. She does influence the gay community and is an advocate for gay rights. I think that her reasoning behind doing the things she does is to raise awareness that it is alright to be different…even a freak. She isnt really what people will call beautiful, so what she wears (and does) is called art.
    As far as a black Gaga? No there will never be one. Maybe Grace Jones? Of course she isnt a singer. But she comes close.

  • isolde

    “Gaga gets criticized more than any artist working right now because she is the brightest star, she really has no competition. Not even from Beyonce really. From album sales to tour revenue she’s in a league of her own.”

    Um no. Beyonce, X-tina, Britney, etc., have all sold more albums than Lady Gaga. Beyonce grossed more money last year as well. Lady Gaga’s annual tour grosses are no more impressive than Britney’s or Bey’s either. How is it that Beyonce has won more awards, sold more albums, received more accolades, etc. than Lady Gaga, but Lady Gaga is a bigger star? Hmm . . .

    “I don’t understand Janelle Monae. I find her to be weird for the sake of being weird. She’s created this entire fantasy world where she’s an alien and all this other nonsense lol.”

    Laughing right back at you and your racist BS. If Janelle Monae is weird just for the sake of being weird, then what, pray tell, is Lady Gaga? Oh, that’s right, it’s “art.” You acknowledge the role of sexism in the music industry and the standard that women are held to in terms of often being expected to be sexualized, yet you chide Janelle Monae for not going that route and using different themes?

    And this tripe right here is exactly why it’s extremely unlikely that there will ever be a black Lady Gaga.

  • @mstygerlily

    Both women are imitating legends who came before them with a new milennium spin on what they’re doing. Originality is apparently sooo 1999.

    The Black Lady Gaga was Grace Jones. She has spoken out about how Gaga has swagger jacked her.

    Gaga also essentially copied the styles of NYC’s club kids as made famous anew in the movie Party Monster. She calls her followers little monsters and they obey.

    The two artists, Nicki and Gaga are actually two sides of the same coin. Minaj has the raunchy lyrics, Gaga has the raunchy imagery. If it weren’t for the Black community’s obsession and revulsion with hypersexualized images and faux puratanicalism, I’m sure Minaj’s videos would push the envelope further than they have.

  • A.

    Have you ever heard of the Icon Grace Jones?!

  • A.

    Grace Jones, anyone??!

  • esgee

    esther armah is neither a media goddess nor a public intellectual. please correct accordingly.

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