As happy as many Nicki Minaj fans were about her landing an appearance from multiplatinum rapper Eminem on her debut album, a few were taken aback by Em’s use of a gay slur on their collabo, “Roman’s Revenge.”
The use of the word f—-t was somewhat shocking given the platinum rap star’s long-professed affinity for her gay fans. Just last fall, Minaj lent her voice to the “It Gets Better” campaign, a viral initiative seeking to promote tolerance in light of increasing suicides by teens plagued by bullies. Why would Nicki allow someone to use one of the very slurs used to hurt the teens she sought to aid?
It’s a concern Nicki herself is now acknowledging. In an interview with Out.com, the rapper, once rumored to be bisexual, says she was initially uncomfortable with Eminem’s use of the derogatory term. She explained, “You know, if I’m being honest, I didn’t like [him using it]. I spoke to everyone I knew about it. I spoke to my hairdresser, who’s one of my closest friends. I sat him down and said, ‘Terrence, what do you think about this?’”
After a long talk, her friend and wig wrangler ultimately told her that he didn’t feel like Eminem was talking about a gay person per se when he used the slur, so he didn’t take offense to it. That helped settle some of her concerns as well as her belief that her collaborator was essentially playing a role.
Minaj added, “It’s Eminem. I felt like we were creating a movie. And in the same way, I feel like if you were to watch your favorite actor or actress say ‘f—-t’ or say ‘n—-r’ in a movie, you don’t hate them because it’s like they’re playing a role.” Unfortunately, when you have a history of being blatantly homophobic, there are some roles you shouldn’t tackle. Conversely, though there may indeed be a thin line between creativity and something being offensive, a gay slur from a “former homophobe” is doing the wobble up and down on that very line. Regardless of whether or not Eminem meant a gay person specifically with his use of the word, its definition is still rooted in, and thus further perpetuates, homophobia.
As a fan of Nicki Minaj, I can tell that she was earnest in her efforts to attempt to find balance between freedom of speech and her conscience. Sadly, a number of her gay fans may still be disappointed in the result. In the future, Nicki, if your first instinct is that something is making you uncomfortable, it should probably be your last.