Early on, Nicki Minaj made it evident that she’d never shy away from flaunting her larger-than-life posterior. Again and again, we’ve seen her shake, twerk, wiggle, gyrate, and otherwise move her ass in ways most people didn’t know were physically possible—most recently, even causing controversy at the mere sight of it on the artwork for her “Baby Got Back”–sampling new single. She responded to that controversy with a smart series of Instagram photos that pointed out the hypocrisy in the kinds of backsides society considers “acceptable”—those of Chrissy Teigen, Kate Upton, and so on—while hers, apparently, isn’t.
With the video for “Anaconda,” released at midnight, Nicki’s made it clear for the umpteenth time that the only opinion about her body she’s concerned with is her own. The video, like the one for “Super Bass,” shows Minaj surrounded by a group of bikini-clad multiethnic women with whom she dances, flirts, and, later, works out. From the isolated GIF or screenshot, the video’s likely to be perceived as something resembling porn. But look again and you’ll find the athleticism these women demonstrate in their moves—Nicki included—celebrates the strength, power, and beauty of the female body. More importantly, the video is meant to empower women who have curves for days (“He can tell I ain’t missing no meals,” she raps). And while product placement in music videos isn’t new, seeing Minaj, a woman of color, able to hawk a brand she actually owns speaks for itself.
She further drives home the point that, in Nicki’s world, men and the male gaze don’t matter by taking her labelmate Drake—arguably the biggest star in hip-hop—making him her personal “boy toy,” and reducing him to a steaming puddle. Toward the end of the video, just when Drake thinks he might be able to cop a feel, she swats his hand back to remind him who’s really in control—and always has been.
Nicki Minaj Sets Her Sights on the Male Gaze