Nicki Minaj Makes Alliances and Enemies at the VMAs

gettyimages-485988092The opening number of the VMAs was a defining moment for uber-talented rapper Nicki Minaj, especially considering that her video for Anaconda was snubbed for the award Video of the Year (in a rather public fashion). You wouldn’t know anything was amiss from her luxurious opening performance however, complete with crimson feathered headdresses, some impressive pyro, and Nicki’s signature dancing style, heavy on fluid, almost mesmerizing gyrating.

Nicki was in top form during that performance, it can’t be denied. And it was also a very public performance for anyone who thought that she and buddie Taylor Swift were anything but one hundred percent reconciled. Arguably the most heart stopping moment of Nicki’s number was when Taylor—in a bright red, sparkly leotard that echoed the flashy fashion of her 1989 World Tour—ascended to the stage behind Nicki and began singing with Minaj in a beautiful harmony.

ICYMI, Taylor and Nicki had a little Twitter tiff in July, when the nominees for the Video of the Year award were announced and Nicki’s Anaconda video was conspicuously absent. Nicki cited racism and the societal disdain for black female bodies as the reason, stating that if she looked like one of the girls in Swift’s Bad Blood video, i.e. tall, white, and thin, she may have been nominated.

Swift, perceiving a black flag being raised in her direction, responded to Nicki. The exchange is below:

Nothing too earth shattering.

Nicki’s tweets, though somewhat veiled, do call attention to intersectional feminism, something that went right over Taylor’s head, possibly due to Nicki’s angry tone, which is understandable, perhaps. The two made up, made some music, and hugged it out on a national stage. Nicki bringing Taylor out during her iconic opening number speaks volumes about both women, and cements this new pop-star trend of #SquadGoals and making alliances. Nicki made a huge alliance last night by inviting Taylor onto the stage as her guest. The Swift backlash is being contained.

But Nicki also made an enemy. She’s no blunt axe, after all. Nicki has always been opinionated, outspoken, and well spoken. And she’s not afraid to burn bridges on national television.

Which she did, with great effect, with Miley Cyrus.

Cyrus gave an interview to The New York Times recently, and when asked about the “feud” between Swift and Minaj, had this to say about Nicki’s behavior:

If you do things with an open heart and you come at things with love, you would be heard and I would respect your statement…But I don’t respect your statement because of the anger that came with it…What I read sounded very Nicki Minaj, which, if you know Nicki Minaj is not too kind. It’s not very polite.

At the VMAs, Nicki didn’t let that stand. When accepting her award in the very beginning of the night, Nicki carefully announces, with deliberation and determination, “And now…back to…this bitch that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press. Miley, what’s good?”


Nicki was forecful and serious—and terrifying. Many who thought the moment was staged have probably not seen footage of Miley’s face: her expression changes from cheerful to shocked immediately.

Miley tried to play it off, citing that the press is likely to miscontrue statements and take things out of context, but that’s not true in this case. Miley’s words can’t really be understood in a different way: if Nicki had played nice, her message would have been better received.

But isn’t it normal to be angry when you’re scorned and snubbed by a major music organization? Isn’t that what Kanye has been trying to tell us, in very many words, since 2008? Why does Nicki’s tone take away from her message?

In the end, it wasn’t Nicki’s tone that changed, and Miley’s tune that was. Nicki clapped back with force and anger, leaving Miley scrambling. It was a great moment of television for those of us who are getting quickly bored with the tameness of celebrity Twitter feuds. Lines were drawn in the sand last night: Cyrus is out with Nicki, and Swift is permanently in.

If nothing else, last night’s VMAs were about sisterhood and scorn.

About The Author
Lisa Lo Paro
Lisa is a freelance writer and bibliophile living on the outskirts of New York City. She likes 2 a.m. with a good book, takes cream in her coffee and heavily filters her photos. Check out her blog The Most Happy, her Instagram, and Twitter.