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Fighting between fandoms—sometimes called “stan wars”—is not a new concept. But when it comes to Nicki Minaj and her fans, the Barbz, the situation is primed for all kinds of conflict. Minaj has consistently positioned herself against other women—and female rappers in particular—in order to maintain her status as “the queen” of hip-hop. The list of female rappers Minaj has beef with gets longer every day, a fact many have used as evidence to uphold the idea that she doesn’t support women.
On December 8, Minaj’s birthday, she released her long-awaited record Pink Friday 2, a follow-up to her 2010 album Pink Friday. The Barbz took to X to celebrate the release, showing love for their queen and hyping up the album with trending phrases like “No Skips.” These fans maintained that Minaj is still at the top of her game, and took shots at other female rappers to prove this point.
The Barbz took up Minaj’s rhetoric of singularity with their remarks about the album. “Nicky will always be miles ahead of all these female rappers,” one fan wrote. “FU** THOSE OTHER WACK ASS WEAK ASS FEMALE RAPPERS, wrote another. The Barbz want Minaj’s brilliance to be in the record books, and some have made it their mission to help Pink Friday 2 beat Lauryn Hill’s 1998 record for most first-week sales by a female artist. Others have brought Beyoncé into the mix, with one (in)famous post suggesting “Idk the girls hated Renaissance too” in defense of the album.
Minaj is famous for not collaborating with female rappers on her tracks, and this trend holds on Pink Friday 2. (The only two women features are Lourdez and Tasha Cobbs Leonard, neither of whom are hip-hop artists.) Her lyrics don’t offer much in the way of camaraderie either. Many have noted that her track “Red Ruby Da Sleeze” sounds like it’s dissing one of her most beloved contemporaries, Megan Thee Stallion. Nonetheless, the most committed Barbz stand by Minaj’s decisions wholeheartedly, with one fan noting “im so glad nicki didn’t give a platform to any female rappers on this album😭😭 let them find their own way like you did mama.”
Not everyone went along with the Barbz’ narrative of excellence, including Cardi B fans, known as the BardiGang. “We want Cardi” started trending alongside the Barbz’ hashtags, with Cardi fans proclaiming their desire for new music from the rapper. Cardi’s 2018 album Invasion of Privacy re-entered the top 3 on iTunes on the same day as Minaj’s release. Her fans noted that Cardi never asked anyone to start buying or streaming her album again, indicating that this revival is just a natural result of her popularity with the general public. The implication here is that these fans would rather listen to Cardi than Nicki, a suggestion the Barbz did not take kindly to.
For Minaj’s haters, there is plenty to take issue with. Most notable is the fact that Minaj is married to a registered sex offender and allegedly harassed his victim, in addition to supporting other sex offenders in her life. “Y’all really listening to the woman who married a rapist, then aided in the harassment of the same woman he assaulted. Y’all really have grits for brains,” reads one popular post.
The discourse about the new album reveals the multiple conflicting narratives about Minaj, narratives that inevitably clash with one another as they come head to head.
Why it matters
A myopic lack of self-awareness is a hallmark of stan culture, and the Barbz are no different in this regard. Indeed, the Barbz illustrate the more toxic elements of fandom, including a reverence for capitalistic superiority.
Capitalism breeds competition and inhibits solidarity, a dynamic that will sound familiar to anyone conversant in Minaj’s rhetoric. When stans spend so much time striving for the financial success of their faves, it’s no wonder things get contentious.