Nicki Minaj made her debut on the Billboard Hot 100 with the #1 album in 2010. She quickly became one of the most popular hip-hop artists of the decade.
Ever since that powerful debut, Minaj has released multiple hit albums: Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012), The Pinkprint (2014), and her latest release, Queen (2018), all of which charted highly and sold over 200,000 copies in first week sales.
Her consistent commercial and critical success established her firmly as the best female rapper of the generation and garnered respect from industry peers, including Beyonce, Drake, Madonna, and Justin Bieber.
Unlike Minaj, Cardi B gained initial popularity through both her television appearances on Love and Hip Hop: New York and reckless online presence on Instagram instead of musical ability. She displayed compelling candor and charisma when discussing her former job as a stripper or affiliation with the Bloods. Cardi was catapulted to stardom with her single Bodak Yellow, which became a quick party favorite and taking the internet by storm.
Bodak Yellow hit the US Billboard Top 100, premiered at #1, and remained there for three consecutive weeks. It stayed on the charts for 35 weeks total.
Cardi’s team capitalized effectively on her sudden success by featuring her on hits with relevant artists like Bruno Mars, the Migos, and G-Eazy, until she was the clear breakout pop talent of 2017.
Since both Cardi and Nicki are native to New York, fans started to notice the similarities between them, often pitting the two against each other in online discussion. In the music industry at large–and especially in mainstream hip-hop–it’s very rare for women to attain the same success as men. Rather than celebrating the contributions that both Minaj and Cardi have made to the industry, people were quick to read their mutual success as a rivalry, as if female artists with dramatically different styles can’t exist in the same environment. Both artists’ large (and loud) fanbases have contributed to the rivalry.
The beef crossed over from speculation to reality began when hip-hop media initially believed that Minaj’s verse from No Flag contained a diss to Cardi.
“I heard these labels are trying to make another me / Everything you’re getting little hoe is because of me”No Flag by London On Da Track ft. 21 Savage, Offset, and Nicki Minaj
Minaj spoke out on social media when a fan said to stop making verses about Cardi. “It sure aint,” she tweeted, “Wrote this one a couple of months ago too”. Cardi was interviewed at the 2017 VMAs and attempted to clear the air after months of speculation.
“I don’t want problems with anybody. I just want to make music and make money, I don’t have time to look at other women and what they’re doing. I don’t have to do that whole industry beef, you know?”Cardi B
Fans also believed that Cardi’s show-stealing verse on G-Eazy’s “No Limit” was directed at Minaj. Cardi dispelled these rumors as well. The two continue to have civil public interactions, congratulating each other and talking at the Met Gala.
Through subtle digs on both sides, either in lyrics or interviews, it’s clear that Minaj and Cardi had a tense yet civil relationship. That is, until their dramatic physical altercation at the Harper’s Bazaar NYFW party. Cardi lunged towards Minaj, but security intercepted, Cardi was elbowed in the face, then threw her shoe at Minaj. This scuffle was caught on film and went instantly viral.
Following the attack, Cardi took to Instagram to explain her thought process and insult Minaj directly.
The internet was anxious to hear Nicki’s defense, and she delivered on her Beats 1 radio show Queen Radio.
After the public and viral fight, the feud is almost guaranteed to continue. Minaj has been more public then ever with the advent of her radio show, and her angry tirades may continue to find Cardi as a prime target. It must be difficult for these women to undergo such criticism from pop culture culture, as they would like to focus on themselves rather than a feud with a virtual stranger. Had the public not roped the two rappers together from the start, there would probably be more opportunity for collaboration between them. If they ever decide to set their differences aside, we’ll be eagerly waiting for a collaboration. Until then, the rivalry continues.