If you're having trouble shaking off Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj is here to help. “Anaconda,” the new single from her upcoming The Pink Print album, comes as if in direct response to Swift’s first official “official pop” single, “Shake it Off,” released just one day ago with a video that was an obvious attempt to court criticism (and the views and media coverage that go with it) by borrowing elements from rap culture. If “Shake it Off” looked like a GAP commercial before, as some critics have noted, now it looks more like an episode of Saved by the Bell by comparison.
Swift’s video features the singer struggling to keep up with various groups of dancers, and the controversy mostly stems from one segment which features Swift, decked out in booty shorts and gold chains, using black women’s twerking behinds as props. Whether it’s tongue in cheek or not (it very likely is; Swift seems too smart to be that dense), as NOW magazine points out, it makes a mockery of the discussions around race that have sprouted up since the last time a country crossover artist tried that. At one point, Swift crawls under a line of gyrating legs, looking up in amazement and then laughing at the whole thing, as if to acknowledge just how awkward that whole segment is. But here’s the thing: by holding twerking at arm’s length, as if it’s something to be either marvelled and/or laughed at, Swift is actually managing to be more offensive than if she was earnestly interested in the culture. Her laughable attempt at a rap verse halfway through the song proves that.
Minaj overshadows Swift’s moment in the spotlight with a highly NSFW, almost-five-minute, twerk- and thong-heavy video in support of a single that will very likely have her taking the rap throne back from Iggy Azalea.
The video calls to mind an interview I’ve quoted before that Minaj did with Ellen Generes which touched on this very same thing. “If a white girl does something that seems to be black, then it’s like, black people think, oh, she’s embracing our culture, so they kinda ride with it. And then white people think, oh she must be cool, she doing something black. It’s weird, but if a black person does a black thing, it ain’t that poppin’,” she said.
But here’s where Minaj is wrong. There’s nothing cool about Swift’s treatment, and Minaj’s video is actually that poppin’, already racking up impressive views (2.3 million and counting at time of writing).
Update: As of Aug. 21, "Anaconda" has racked up more views than "Shake it Off," with both of them surpassing 20-million.
As for the song itself, “Ananconda” shows us Minaj is leaving the dance pop of “Starships” far behind, taking a Sir Mix-a-Lot sample to jump off into a masterclass on early ‘90s dance-rap, in both production and flow, with lyrics that channel the same sort of liberation that Salt N’ Pepa were known for.
You can watch the video below, which features a rarely silent Drake and is definitely NSFW, but better yet, hit play, minimize your screen and forget about that time Swift tried to rap to “this sick beat.”
What do you think about Minaj's new single? Share your thoughts on Twitter: @JesseKG