Nicki Minaj has been constantly criticized for acting Jamaican but those who criticize her are failing to realize how intertwined the Jamaican and Trinidadian cultures are.
Long before Nicki Minaj came on the scene, Jamaicans and Trinidadians had a deep admiration for each other’s culture. It is impossible to go to a Jamaican party and not hear Soca music; likewise, it is impossible to go to a Trinidadian party and not hear Reggae Music.
Long before Vybz Kartel and Beenie Man started arguing about which of them is the king of dancehall, there was one de facto king and that was Yellowman. At the same time the de facto king of Calypso was the Mighty Sparrow. Many of our readers are too young to remember this but King Yellowman and Mighty Sparrow clashed live on two different occasions in the 80’s. One clash was in Jamaica and the other clash was in Trinidad. Sparrow won the Jamaican leg of the clash and Yellowman won the Trinidadian leg. That was great proof of the admiration Trinidadians had for a Danehall legend performing in their country and likewise the admiration Jamaicans had for a Calypso legend to be performing on their island.
So no one should be surprised that Nicki Minaj embraces the Jamaican culture. It is a great mutual respect and admiration that has existed between the countries for years.
Surely Byron Lee who is a Jamaican would have to be in the Soca and Calypso hall of fame if there was one. Dancehall artistes like Admiral Bailey and Beenie Man have dabbled in Soca and released Soca songs that did great on the charts. None of these men were “acting Trinidadians”, they were merely taking part in a beautiful culture that they love.
A lot of young Trinidadians and Jamaicans do not know who Lynn Taitt is but he is a Trinidadian who moved to Jamaica and played a major role in the development of Rocksteady music. Rocksteady is what progressed into Reggae Music.
“When I went to Jamaica and started playing with Baba Brooks and those guys, everything was fast, but in Trinidad they had fast calypso and slow calypso,” Taitt said in a 2003 interview with a Jamaican newspaper. “So that day I told Gladdy AKA keyboardist Gladstone Anderson to slow the tempo and that’s how Take It Easy and Rocksteady came about. Rocksteady is really slow ska.”
So obviously the melting of the cultures did not begin with Nicki Minaj and it will not end with her either.
Usain Bolt, Shenseea, Konshens and hundreds of other Jamaicans were just in Trinidad the other day enjoying carnival and everything else the Trinidadian culture has to offer.
Before Usain Bolt came on the scene, most Jamaicans were cheering for Alto Bolden. After Bolden hang up his spikes and went into the broadcasting booth, most Trinidadians were cheering for Usain Bolt.
Nicki Minaj should be an example to us of how we can love and glorify other African cultures around the world. If the Reggae Boyz are not playing, Jamaicans should cheer for the Soca Warriors and when Soca Warriors are not playing, Trinidadians should be cheering for the Reggae Boyz.