It’s easy to forget that Nicki Minaj is in fact a rapper. Visually she fits neither established conventions of female rappers to date. These being boyish swag and over sexualisation. Aesthetically she is closer to resembling an R&B singer and this is also audible in her somewhat melodic delivery. Ronald Williams, cofounder of cash money, put it best “…She’s not a female rapper – she’s a pop star who happens to rap.” This is slowly becoming apparent with the release of her latest single, Super Bass, taken from her Pink Friday album.
Super Bass has made American music news for being the highest chart single from a solo female rapper with no featuring artist since Missy Elliot’s ‘Work It’ in 2002. Her previous peak in the Billboard Hot 100 was 13 with ‘Moment for Life’. This despite having a number 1 album. So why the sudden translation of popularity of the single especially as it was initially released in May.
Well firstly, the song itself. Arguably more radio friendly than her previous singles with club synths, a booming low end, as well as a poppy and catchy hook. It seamlessly blends in with the status quo of what the ears of pop fans are demanding, especially for the clubs. Not only that but its accessibility means more commercial radio shows that may not necessarily have played a single like “Massive Attack” or “Did It On ‘Em” due to their urban appeal, might be more willing to pop/dance track.
Secondly, the video. If YouTube views are anything to go by video then there’s no wonder that this track has become such a successful single having raked almost 3 times the views of her previous video uploads on her Vevo with a massive 95 million plus views and growing. This is also perhaps her raunchiest to date one can only wonder if that has anything to do with it.
Thirdly the kids Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez. Taylor did an acapella rap of the first few bars of the track having requested it during a radio appearance and Selena did an impromptu video of herself rapping along to the track. Both of these went viral and of course in the process opened up Nicki Minaj to a selection of fans that may not have otherwise been into her.
Nicki herself pointed out that Taylor Swift did have some influence on the track in a radio interview on LA’s Kiis FM. “Taylor Swift did her little interview about ‘Super Bass’ and [it] took off in the States with the people sort of knowing it. It’s just really uncanny how all that stuff happens. We didn’t plan it like that.”
Another contributing factor that can not be ignored is the controversy surrounding her “nip slip” live on day time TV show ‘Good Morning America’. Although Nicki herself claims she has avoided approach of the likes of Lil’ Kim and Trina with regards to sexual content in her music, this undoubtably goes to show that regardless sex sells.
The success of this track can only cause us to wonder why it was initially only on the deluxe version of the album. Perhaps they did not want to associate her with the pop sound, but arguably it sounds very much like what should have been a lead single. However, the great thing about Cash Money is that they responded to the demand dispite the alternative plans such as the fact that Super Bass also appears to have pushed back the release of “Fly” featuring Rhianna. A lot of labels can learn about the importance of being flexible from this.