This week, Nicki Minaj released a lyric video for her guest-heavy new single, “Only”, and the response has been heavily damning. It’s not guest verses by Drake and Lil Wayne, nor Chris Brown’s chorus that are bringing the heat; rather, it’s the clip’s blatant appropriation of Nazi imagery.
To be sure, director Jeff Osborne isn’t the first to reference Nazism in his work. But where things like The Producers, Star Wars, and Pink Floyd have cast the fascists in a clearly negative light, the “Only” clip essentially places Minaj in the analogistic role of Hitler. She’s depicted sitting on a throne in front of an army of soldiers wearing red armbands emblazoned with a black Young Money logo similar to the Nazi swastika. Brown is represented as a military general, Wayne as a head of business, and Drake as a Pope. (For frame of reference, Pope Pius XII was against Nazi Germany, though he has been criticized for maintaining a neutral stance and not doing enough during WWII.)
Update: Both Minaj and the Osborne have issued responses.
Meanwhile, Osborne admits that elements of the video are “representative of Nazism,” while other models and symbols are American, Russian, Belgian, German, and Italian.
Before I start, be clear that these are my personal views and not the views of Nicki Minaj, Drake, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, or Young Money.
First, I’m not apologizing for my work, nor will I dodge the immediate question. The flags, armbands, and gas mask (and perhaps my use of symmetry?) are all representative of Nazism.
But a majority of the recognizable models/symbols are American: MQ9 Reaper Drone, F22 Raptor, Sidewinder missile, security cameras, M60, SWAT uniform, General’s uniform, the Supreme court, and the Lincoln Memorial. What’s also American is the 1st Amendment, which I’ve unexpectedly succeeded in showing how we willfully squeeze ourselves out of that right every day.
Despite the fact heavy religious and economic themes were glossed over, there’s also Russian T-90 tanks, Belgian FN FAL, German mp5 (not manufactured until 1966), an Italian Ferrari, and a Vatican Pope.
As far as an explanation, I think its actually important to remind younger generations of atrocities that occurred in the past as a way to prevent them from happening in the future.
And the most effective way of connecting with people today is through social media and pop culture. So if my work is misinterpreted because it’s not a sappy tearjerker, sorry I’m not sorry. What else is trending?
Minaj has yet to respond to the backlash on Twitter, which has seen many saying the clip degrades the millions of lives lost during the Holocaust. However, Osborne has been retweeting and favoriting negative tweets, seemingly mocking his critics.
Below, watch the video and decide for yourself if Minaj and Osborne’s work is in bad taste.