Tag Archives: carnival

Nicki Minaj’s “Pound The Alarm” Reveals Trinidadian Party Politics

by Guest Contributor Annita Lucchesi, originally published on Tumblr

**Video Slightly NSFW***

Perhaps distracted by the picturesque scenery or the flash and glamor of Carnival, music critics have yet to say anything substantial on Nicki Minaj’s new music video, “Pound the Alarm.” Indeed, the overwhelming response has been to dismiss both the song and video as “virtually indistinguishable” from her previous single, “Starships,” and nearly all reviews have nothing to say other than run-of-the-mill comments on the beauty of the setting and Minaj’s physical attributes (see: MTV, Billboard). Fuse even went so far as to describe Minaj as a “bikini wearer extraordinaire” who “made sure her goods were front and center,” and Perez Hilton’s first comment was to tell Minaj, “pound that alarm with your bombastic bosom!”

While Nicki Minaj is obviously exceptionally beautiful, these reviews are as vapid as they are repetitive. Minaj is routinely overlooked as a ‘conscious artist,’ despite the fact that many of her songs, as well as her carefully curated appearance, are politically charged. The vast majority of the narrative on her fame is centered on her body and relationships with male rappers, as if she isn’t an intelligent artist who is very intentional about her image and her work (much less one who attended performing arts school!). Anyone who has heard her more directly “conscious” tracks like “Autobiography” or her remix of “Sweetest Girl” knows that she can be a passionate performer and talented poet. Despite this, Minaj constantly gets criticized and dismissed as lacking substance, which I believe has more to do with the combined forces of racism and sexism in popular media and consumer consciousness than anything else. No matter how gorgeous you are, it can’t be easy to be a young Black West Indian woman in the US media, much less one who is so confident in her ownership of her body and sexuality as Nicki Minaj.

There is also a not-so-subtle unwillingness on behalf of many of her critics to dialogue with Minaj’s work on her own terms, which the “Pound the Alarm” reviews each fall prey to. Though most of them acknowledge that Minaj was born in Trinidad, the video’s location, none of them attempt to place the video within its context—Trinidadian party culture and national politics.

Trinidad & Tobago was in a state of emergency for a sizeable portion of 2011, and nightlife was forced underground after a curfew was imposed. Continue reading

Link Love – Asian Women Blog Carnival

by Latoya Peterson

Long-time reader Jha tipped us that she is hosting the 3rd Asian Women Blog Carnival over at her place. The call for submissions can be found here.

Her email reminded me that I never got around to prepping the Link Love post for the second carnival, so I’ll take my late pass and present it to you anyway.


Jolantru – Bright Kerchiefs

You see, the Chinese are not a monolithic race/culture. The dominant culture is the Han. But there are also other ethnic groups under this wide umbrella term. Half of my heritage comes from Southern China which is closer to regions like Vietnam and Yunnan. The languages that come out from these regions are rich, textured and unique. Mandarin Chinese is supposed to be the unifying language, the pu-tong-hua (common tongue/language); it is what I grew up with, because there was (and is) a government policy to eradicate all the “dialects”. Therefore, many adults from my generations grew up speaking only English and Mandarin Chinese. Our knowledge of the “dialects”, the languages from the specific provinces in China, is dismal, a smattering of words or two.

My Ah-Ma saw it in her grandchildren. Only a couple of my cousins are able to converse with her in Hokkien. The rest of us flounder and have to look for interpreters (namely my father). Once, after returning from Australia for summer vacation, I visited her and she called me an “ang moh”, a white person. The comment, though spoken in jest, stuck with me for a long time. Was I an “ang moh”, a white person? Or – worse – was I a banana? Yellow outside, white within. I cannot speak Hokkien to save my life, but I try to understand my Ah-Ma. These days, I have taken to speaking to her in Mandarin. Even then, I feel as if I am a failure, a hack pretending to be what she is not.

Continue reading