Nicki Minaj performs onstage during New Year's Eve at E11EVEN Miami on Dec. 31, 2023, in Miami, Florida.
Nicki Minaj’s “Big Foot” — a diss track she dropped this week in her escalating feud with fellow rapper Megan Thee Stallion — has fallen flat.
Houston rapper Megan released “Hiss” on Jan. 26, featuring several lines that took aim at unnamed figures in the music industry. Though Megan’s track did not appear to focus on one specific person, Minaj took at least one of the lines personally.
The “Hiss” line in question: “These hoes don’t be mad at Megan / These hoes mad at Megan’s Law,” Megan rapped.
Megan’s Law, implemented in 1994, requires convicted sex offenders to register with the federal government. Minaj’s husband, Kenneth Petty, is covered under that law because of his 1994 conviction on an attempted rape charge. In fact, in July 2022, Petty was sentenced to a year of home confinement and three years’ probation for not registering as a sex offender.
Minaj’s brother, Jelani Maraj, has also been convicted of a sex crime, specifically the predatory sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in 2020.
U.S. rapper Megan Thee Stallion performs during the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square on Dec. 31, 2023, in New York City.
Despite Minaj’s decision to respond on social media and with “Big Foot,” there is little indication this was a shot at her — or solely her. The entertainment industry, and specifically the music industry, is in the midst of reckoning withsexual violence against women, so the line could refer to any number of accused or convicted sex offenders.
Megan herself has not suggested the line was about Minaj. In a phone interview on “The Breakfast Club” the morning of her song’s release, Megan told hostCharlamagne Tha God that the song is for “these bitches and hoes alike, men or women.”
“I’m saying, a hit dog gon’ holler. That’s it. Whoever feel it, feel it,” Megan added.
Minaj did indeed holler.
In her diss track, “Big Foot,” Minaj raps: “This little beggin’ whore talkin’ ’bout Megan’s law / For a free beat, you can hit Megan raw / If you a ghostwriter, Pardi in Megan jaw / Shots thrown but I still ain’t let Megan score.”
Minaj’s attempt to slut-shame Megan seems to overlook that Megan has built a fan base off of rapping shamelessly about enjoying sex. It also passes over the fact that Minaj has also rapped about sex plenty of times throughout her own career, as do many other rappers and music artists.
Minaj also referenced a 2020 incident in which rapper Tory Lanez shot Megan in the feet.
“F**k you get shot with no scar?” Minaj rapped on “Big Foot.”
The line attempts to discredit Megan’s claims against Lanez. Multiple rappers, like Drake, DaBaby, 50 Cent and Boosie Badazz, have done the same since the news of the shooting broke.
After the attack, Megan also posted (and deleted) a picture of her injuries.
At the end of the two-week trial, the jury found Lanez guilty of assault with a semiautomatic handgun, carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle and discharging a firearm with gross negligence. In August, a judge sentenced Lanez to 10 years behind bars.
Megan Thee Stallion, whose legal name is Megan Pete, arrives at court on Dec. 13, 2022, in Los Angeles, California, to testify in the trial of Rapper Tory Lanez for allegedly shooting her.
Minaj also repeatedly brought up Megan’s mother, who passed away in March 2019, with the lyric, “Lyin’ on your dead mama.”
The online response to Minaj’s track and her social media spiral has been overwhelmingly negative, with many questioning how the “Queen of Rap” blundered so badly. TMZ wrote bluntly that fans “rejected” the “Big Foot” record.
Countlessobservers on social media have argued that Minaj’s legacy has been tainted by her marriage to Petty and her tendency to go after other women in the hip-hop game, including rappers Cardi B, Remy Ma and Lil’ Kim.
One TikToker pointed out that Minaj’s fan base is getting more comfortable with holding Minaj accountable as she “terrorizes other women.” Other fans have retired their status as “Barbz,” the nickname for Minaj fans.
As of Wednesday, “Hiss,” Megan’s follow-up to “Cobra” in November, was the top song on Spotify in the U.S. “Big Foot” was 23rd. Megan hasn’t directly responded to Minaj’s “Big Foot,” but she did release two new versions of the song Wednesday — an acoustic version and a “chopped and screwed” version.
Nicki Minaj accepts the Best Hip Hop award for "Super Freaky Girl" onstage during the MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center on Sept.12, 2023, in Newark, New Jersey.
Misogynoir and Hip-Hop: A Sign Of The Times
A.D. Carson, an associate professor of hip-hop at the University of Virginia, told HuffPost the feud between Megan and Minaj reflects “some of the kinds of narratives that folks have projected onto Black women.”
“The United States of America hates women, Black women in particular,” Carson said.
Hip-hop music was created in the Bronx, New York, out of protest and necessity, HuffPost’s Taryn Finley wrote in an article marking hip-hop’s 50-year anniversary last year. Since then, the genre has had a huge impact on fashion, language and pop culture as a whole.
“Hip-hop has only existed sort of in the public sphere, as we understand it, for about somewhere around 50 years. And we don’t have that many examples of rap music as pop music, where its most recognizable faces, names and voices are women. It’s a unique moment in this rather short history,” Carson said.
Black female rappers were once much less prevalent than they are now. But throughout the 1990s and 2000s, hip-hop legends like Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Missy Elliot and Trina paved the way for the new “rap girls.”
But with all of the genre’s influence and evolution, misogyny is still central to the genre. Many artists don’t try to hide it.
There’s the infamous “Bitches Ain’t S**t” by Dr. Dre (who has a history of violence against women) featuring Snoop Dog (who singer Dionne Warwick once condemned for his misogynistic lyrics). Rapper Future is celebrated for music in which he denigrates women by consistently calling them “hoes” and “sluts.” And Drake, despite his “nice guy” persona, “fixates on the power women hold over him sexually—and the power he can hold over them financially,” according to The Atlantic’s Spencer Kornhaber.
Left to right: Rappers Lil' Kim, MC Lyte and Remy Ma perform onstage at the VH1 Hip Hop Honors at the Hammerstein Ballroom on Oct. 7, 2006, in New York City.
Over time, many female rappers have attempted to reclaim words like “bitch” and “ho,” and some have found ways to express their enjoyment of sex. But diss tracks are ingrained in the genre, and conversations around anti-Black racism and sexism, victim-blaming and slut-shaming in rap beefs and diss tracks are especially complicated.
For example, rapper Remy Ma wrote the diss track “Shether,” while Lil’ Kim put out “Black Friday,” both aimed at Minaj. Both tracks suggested Minaj used sex to succeed, but more broadly, said Minaj just wasn’t as talented.
“Hip-hop and any cultural product is very often going to reflect the same ills that come with living in that broader culture,” Carson said. “And so, American culture being the way it is, you can see how two Black women arguing or rapping against each other might easily rely on the most accessible, easiest-to-understand stereotypical tropes.”
He also noted that it’s likely consumers may use this conflict to generalize Black women, who already face a number of stereotypes.
But one thing’s for certain: Minaj’s “Big Foot” has stirred up more conversation about her own legacy than Megan’s.
“On the craft of writing this record, [Minaj] really gave away the game before it even started,” Carson said. “I don’t know what the comeback story is for this because it feels like such a fumble.”
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.