In his piece over at Pitchfork, kris ex takes Nicki Minaj to task for being too Nicki Minaj in everything all the time. It’s called “Maybe It’s Time to Stop Caring About Nicki Minaj.”
It’s a thoughtful commentary and he makes valid points, but here’s the thing: Why single her out in particular? Most, if not all, of his observations—about specific lyrics of hers, about general stylistic and thematic choices, etc.—could easily apply to any other Top 40 artist, or at least any other pop rapper (male or female). So maybe the question isn’t whether or not we should continue to care about Nicki Minaj.
Maybe it’s time to simply stop expecting pop music to be more than it is.
Maybe it’s time to stop expecting pop music to be anything other than a reflection of the pop culture that drives it, shapes it, defines it and consumes it.
Maybe it’s time to stop waiting for pop music to grow up, because its primary listenership is, and always has been, students.
(Related side question: Maybe it’s time to stop reading Harry Potter and Hunger Games and high-school books, and start reading like grownups?)
Maybe it’s time to see pop music for what it is: crafted, marketed product, created for profit, where artistic intention and/or innovative creativity is inherently, intrinsically, inevitably incidental to the process.
Maybe it’s time to allow ourselves to think critically about pop music in a broader way; rather than further scrutinizing the minutiae of Swiftian liner-note obscurities or pondering Rick Ross’ or Pusha T’s internal motivation in constructing yet another verse about selling cocaine and having a lot of money, maybe it’s time to take a broader view and look at trends more than tracks—movements more than moments.
Maybe it’s time to admit that a light, escapist pop song might not be able to withstand a barrage of heavy intellectual and critical inquiry because it’s not—nor has it ever been—designed to.
Maybe it’s time to admit that when we apply our own personal standards and expectations and demands to this massively influential yet utterly impartial behemoth, we only reveal our own arrogance and ignorance.
Maybe it’s time to admit that the microscopic attention we pay to so much of this music is dwarfed by the firehose of ambivalence the music has in response.
Maybe it’s time to stop expecting pop music to care about us.
Maybe it’s time to stop expecting pop music to care what we think about it.
Maybe it’s time to start listening to what pop music says to us.
Maybe it’s time to start caring about what pop music says about us.