Under the Button is part of a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Op-Ed: Nicki Minaj Deserves A Pulitzer Prize


Structural racism has long negated the linguistic artistry of the rap genre. Rap has been — and continues to be — derided as an artistically useless and sonically ignorant cultural form born of the destitute sociopolitical conditions faced by Black Americans. These criticisms are typically rooted in a severe and racist misunderstanding of the linguistic life of Black Americans, which can lean on semantic and sonic schisms from conventional American English. These criticisms are heightened in the case of Black female rap artists, whose dual identities as Black women privies them to a separate, but overlapping, host of lingual smears. Denigrators of art made by women express gripes with its overt reclamation of female sexuality and “frivolous” subject matter. These protests are born of a deep-seated misapprehension of the inventively nuanced ways that women can use language when given a political or cultural platform.

We at Under the Button would like to be very clear on one thing: Nicki Minaj has the most secure grasp on the English language out of anyone, dead or alive. A stronger grasp than Shakespeare, Philip Roth, or any other of those comparatively talentless literary oligarchs. The fact that Bob Dylan has a Pulitzer Prize and Nicki Minaj does not is utterly reprehensible. To honor the poetic excellence continually performed by the queen of rap, we’ve compiled a list of the most hard-hitting and clever Nicki Minaj lyrics.

3. I am the president, where my podium?

And why these girls salty? Why they sodium? 

Is it because my flow slicker than petroleum?

— “Womp Womp,” 2008

2. That's why I call you Buzz Lightyear

'Cause by the time you start buzzin', bitch

You gon' have white hair

— “Roman in Moscow,” 2011 

  1. You know that I stay with them great lines 

End bitches' careers, cut them brake lines 

You gon' be an episode of Dateline 

End-end up on the cover of L.A. Times

Fuck-fuck-fuck-fuck I just heard through the grapevine?

These little musty bitches thinkin' they can take mine

You bitches' chances lookin' slimmer than my waistline

Man, that shit been over since Playtime

Watch flooded, ho, I can't even face time

You bitches gotta face time for them hate crimes 

Playboi, Playboi hit me on my FaceTime

For the best feature out the Big Apple since FaceTime

— “Poke it Out,” 2017

These examples demonstrate the incredible literary prowess that Minaj possesses. Nicki’s dominion over both the semantic and sonic conventions of the English language is unparalleled to even the most revered literary artists