In response to the artwork for Nicki Minaj's upcoming single, Anaconda, Chuck Creekmur, the CEO of AllHipHop.com wrote an open letter to the rapper essentially scolding her for the sexual nature of the cover.
Creekmur, who bills himself as a concerned father of a young daughter, penned a brilliantly condescending letter dripping in slut-shaming, patriarchy, respectability politics, double standards and some flawed logic for good measure.
Mind you, this man is the CEO of a site that routinely features the songs, videos and album artwork of males rappers that are cloaked in the hyper-sexuality and exploitation of women, but apparently Nicki Minaj is the only one who needs to be taken to task.
You remember the one of you licking a lollipop and evoking the now-classic image of Lil Kim in all of her crotchiness? Of course you remember your version of that image, because you asked us to take it down through a member of the team. The team member let us know that Nicki is no longer on that and is doing a lot to promote a new image – "blah blah blah."
It makes perfect sense to bring up that photo because Nicki Minaj has obviously never changed her image or grown as an artist over the course of her career. During her entire tenure in the spotlight, Nicki Minaj has fully embraced a single look and stuck with it. So it is understandable why Creekmur would be so taken aback by this shift in aesthetics. It's such a new concept for her.
For a moment there, I felt like I had briefly peered into the deepest recesses of Nicki Minaj's true inner self, a being that cares how this ratchet s**t affects my kid. I said to myself, "Self, how cool is this? Nicki is already evolving into somebody that my daughter may get to listen to on my watch. Maybe."
The fact that this man believes that the deepest recesses of the inner self of an international pop star is concerned with his child is farcically presumptuous. He later suggests that other girls will try to emulate her Anaconda pose. "This the path you want to lead impressionable kids down?" he asks.
We need to immediately stop perpetuating the myth that pop stars and athletes and actors are able to completely determine the course of a child's life. The biggest influence in your kid's life is you and your parenting. Perhaps the answer to Creekmur's obnoxious question is that impressionable children shouldn't have access to her music in first place, something Nicki herself has said and that is largely the duty of his or her parents. Nicki Minaj is under no obligation to stray from her artistic vision for herself because you don't know how to monitor your child's internet access or have a conversation about healthy sexuality.
Like many trite arguments used to stifle the freedom of women in hip hop, Creekmur asks why things can't be more like the golden age of hip hop. "Even the so-called gangster rappers had something to offer," he says, citing rapper Ice T as an example.
Ice T was a pimp. Literally. Now he stars in a primetime network drama. If we can assume that even gangster rappers have something to offer and the ability to evolve, then why can't we afford Nicki Minaj that same benefit? The answer is because many men—and really, society as a whole—are only comfortable with a woman being one thing. She can be pretty OR smart. She can be a good mother OR successful in the workplace. The assumption being that this sexual image of Nicki is the only side to her when, in fact, it's the only side that patriarchy allows itself to see.
Creekmur then makes a completely inappropriate and inaccurate comparison between wildly different black women for fun, I assume.
This year alone, Black people lost titans in Maya Angelou and Ruby Dee. Those women were entertainers as well and the impact they have had on the lives of their constituency can never be understated. They SERVED the people and they knew that–without that mutual love and respect, we both cease to exist. Ruby and Maya didn't live perfect lives, but their imperfections made their greatness all the more clear.
Considering how meticulously well-thought out this letter is, I'm shocked that Creekmur doesn't note that Maya Angelou worked a prostitute and wholly embraced her past. Or that Ruby Dee had an open marriage. Am I supposed to respect and love them less because certain aspects of their sexuality differ from my own? And I'll tell you one thing: Nicki serves me. She serves me by being a smart, talented, black woman in a male-dominated field who is in control of her image and owns her sexuality and who calls out sexist bullshit when she sees it. Nicki Minaj not serving the concerns of one man doesn't bother me in the least.
The letter ends with a serious of questions directed at Nicki Minaj. Since I'm sure Nicki is too busy being a boss ass bitch, I'll respond for her.
How is Onika Tanya Maraj doing?
None of your damn business.
How does she truly feel about Nicki Minaj right now?
Considering that she is the one crafting the image of Nicki Minaj, it seems safe to assume that she is probably pretty happy with Nicki Minaj. And that if she was, for some reason, unhappy, she has the ability and confidence of self to change things.
What is your higher purpose with young girls (and boys)?
Perhaps her purpose is to prove that as a woman, you can exert your sexuality without being reduced to it—that a woman doesn't have to stifle her autonomy to satisfy the short-sighted.
What is the message you are sending when you determine how you will inspire these young people?
Be who you want to be. Do what you want to do. Don't listen to confused men.
How will boys, already conditioned to sexualize girls at a young age, internalize this big booty of yours?
Why don't you direct this question to the parents of said boys? And while you're at it, also ask them why the internalization of a big booty is any different from a small one? Finally, ask yourself if that is truly dumbest sentence ever written.
Where does the gimmick end and you begin?
"Nicki Minaj" is a stage name. That "gimmick" you speak of is her career. Was purpose of the Anaconda artwork to drum up attention? Of course. That's why it's called a promotion. Nicki was aiming for attention and she got it. A major part of her job is to get attention. Since this is such a concern of yours, I assume you asked Kanye West, Childish Gambino and Iggy Azaela about their gimmicks as well?
Now, I say this not just to Chuck Creekmur but to all the men and women who ascribe to the condescending, sexist and dated beliefs of this letter: Maybe if you spent less time policing the actions of grown women, you would have more time to have conversations with your own daughters and sons about how they will choose to navigate, succeed and fight back against a world steeped in patriarchy and capitalism. Nicki Minaj has already got it all figured out. She doesn't need your help.
Image via Getty.