Let me start by saying I do not now, nor have I ever voluntarily listened to any of Nicki Minaj’s music. So don’t read the title and write me off. But just because I don’t like her music doesn’t mean I am old and out of touch with today’s culture, right? There was music when I was younger that people liked and I didn’t. I was still cool though (Trust me, I was…you don’t have to actually ask anybody who knew me then). I liked the hair metal bands of the 80’s but I didn’t like U2. That’s my prerogative as a young and presumably drug-free Bobby Brown once said. I loved Alanis in the 90’s but did not like Nirvana. So, fine, I was channeling my inner man-hating bitch in that particular decade. What I am getting at here is I have always loved music and have been open to many different genres. I love stuff from the 50’s and 60’s, I like the 70’s for its disco and not so much it’s guitar rock. I even enjoy some classical, rap, and country every once in a while. I am a word lover and if I can find meaning in the words of a song, I’ll learn to love the music behind those words. That’s the way my brain works. And that is what you must understand about me to appreciate where I am going with this.
So, yesterday, I am driving my daughter back to college and we are flipping the radio around trying to find some good music, when I hear Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Baby Got Back and I stop, ready to revel in a man who can appreciate a “juicy bubble” when it seems to skip and then this horrible nails-on-a-chalk-board voice comes in and starts jabbering away. “EEK!” I yell and quickly reach to turn the station. When I hear some ABBA, I am able to breathe again. “What just happened there?” I asked. My daughter then informed me that it was a new song by Nicki Minaj called Anaconda which samples Sir Mix-A-Lot’s famous song. She tells me that people are saying that the song is meant to thumb its nose at men and their body ideals for women. She says that Nicki is making a statement that women should be sexy for themselves and do what they want to do not try to be what a man wants…”or something like that”. My daughter was raised on some amazing music which has stayed with her. When her classmates were crazy for The Jonas Brothers and Justin Bieber, She was listening to Queen and The Beatles. She loves indie music and local bands. So, she doesn’t really listen to Nicki Minaj either but said you have to at least respect her if that really is the message she is trying to get across. Ok, I agree. And that old man-hating inner bitch from college came out and I turned the station back to Nicki. As I said, if I like the words or the message, I will come to love the music too. So, I listened to her….and I leaned in and listened harder…I turned up the radio….I shushed everyone else in the car. Finally I said something that set off a chain reaction of mother-daughter interactions that will loop in my brain for the rest of my life. What I said was “Oh for God Sakes, Cheyenne, I can’t understand a damn word she is saying!” then I turned it back to Dancing Queen. But not before I caught the slight smirk on her face and the almost imperceptible shake of her head as she turned to watch out the window. Something clicked in my memory files, and I saw this same scene turned 180 degrees. I was Cheyenne and my mother sat where I was in the driver’s seat. And I knew. I knew what Chey was thinking in that moment. What she was saying to herself about me and what she was promising herself about her own future. Because I had those same thoughts, that same smirk and head shake. My mom exclaiming that she couldn’t understand a word of what Axl Rose was saying. “I’m sorry but he sounds like a cat in heat” she’d said “It’s awful, and I can’t understand anything” Then she turned the station to Dancing Queen. I rolled my mind’s eyes (God Forbid my mother see me rolling my eyes at her), smirked, and shook my head. I thought to myself ‘She’s so out of it. She won’t even try to like today’s music. When I am her age, and I have teenagers, I will totally be into their music too. Because I am willing to like new stuff when it comes out and appreciate the newest fads, I will be the coolest mom. Me and my kids will be rocking out in the car together’. And there it was. My youth. Gone, just like that. With a broken promise to myself…poof! I had crossed over into the land of “All Oldies, All the Time!” and Mom Jeans. It won’t be long now til I start giving myself home perms and tucking Kleenexes under my watch band. You’ll see me carrying sweaters and umbrellas everywhere I go “just in case”. I’ll always be fanning myself with whatever paper I have at hand. I’ll complain about the gratuitous sex on movies and I’ll never want to try new foods. It’s all over for me. I wanted to pull the car over and grab my daughter by the shoulders and shake her. I wanted to yell “Don’t EVER break that promise! You stay cool, Cheyenne! Stay as cool as you are or else!” But I thought about that all-knowing smirk and thought, eh, you’ll figure it out. Then Sweet Child of Mine came on so I turned up the radio and belted it out like a cat in heat.
Just in case you want to check this out for yourself; here is a link to the very tasteful video of Anaconda by Nicki Minaj (Zero vulgarity and no gratuitious sexuality….No, come on now, you know better). I guess maybe you could make a case for feminism here.