INDEPENDENCE DAY should have served as relief from a year in which our children suffered terribly.
It should have been a time when they could forget the closing schools, the budget shortfalls, and the dying friends. Independence Day should have given them freedom from worry. Instead, because adults made poor decisions, our children were victimized again.
Whoever booked Nicki Minaj ignored her history, set aside her lyrics, forgot her attitude, and pretended Nicki Minaj was going to do something completely different just for us … Philadelphia once again put our children last.
By now you’ve heard that Nicki Minaj, who headlined Philadelphia’s Independence Day concert, was among those who took the stage and uttered profanities. This, in spite of the fact that she was contractually obligated to provide a family friendly performance. By now you’ve also heard that there will be an investigation to determine why that happened.
With all due respect to the city, we don’t need an investigation. I can tell you why Nicki Minaj cursed onstage. It happened because whoever booked Nicki Minaj ignored her history, set aside her lyrics, forgot her attitude, and pretended Nicki Minaj was going to do something completely different just for us. It happened because Philadelphia once again put our children last.
Philadelphia should have known better
Nicki Minaj is a beautiful young woman. She is a talented lyricist who has obviously worked hard to master her craft. But her craft is not for children, and anyone who’d even casually observed Nicki Minaj over the years would know that. Her lyrics are profane. Her performances are provocative. Her stage name is a play on the phrase Ménage a trois–which means sex between three people. Cool if you’re into that, offensive if you’re looking for family entertainment.
And make no mistake. Nicki Minaj has no problem being offensive. She did so at the Grammy Awards when she arrived dressed as Little Red Riding Hood accompanied by a man dressed as the Pope. She then screeched through a bizarre performance that offended millions of Catholics, and built buzz based on that controversy.
For those who are into overly sexual lyrics and presentation, Nicki Minaj is okay. But let me be clear. The vast majority of Nicki Minaj’s music is not suitable for children. I know that. My children know that. Even Nicki Minaj knows that. So why didn’t the City of Philadelphia know that before they booked her to perform at what was supposed to be a family-oriented concert?
The time to decide such things is not after an artist who has built her career on sex, profanity and shock value has done what propelled her to the top. The time to decide such things is well before that artist is booked to perform.
Nicki Minaj is not the only issue
To be sure, Nicki Minaj saying the F-word onstage is not the biggest of our city’s problems, nor should it be the city’s highest priority. Someone made a mistake in booking the wrong artist, and we should take steps to make sure that mistake isn’t repeated.
For those who are into overly sexual lyrics and presentation, Nicki Minaj is okay. But let me be clear. The vast majority of Nicki Minaj’s music is not suitable for children. I know that. My children know that. Even Nicki Minaj knows that. So why didn’t the City of Philadelphia know that?
However, booking Nicki Minaj to perform for families with children speaks to a bigger issue. It speaks to a media that largely ignored Minaj’s profanity-laced performance, and instead touted her lyrical prowess. It speaks to a society that is consistently pushing parents to accept someone else’s values instead of our own. It speaks to a music industry in which so-called artists build careers based on a lack of respect for their audience, for themselves, and for the children they could very well influence.
To be blunt, I’m tired of seeing our children come last. I’m tired of music and television that is not suitable for them to view. I’m tired of people who use the big stage to deny our babies their childhoods.
For once, I’d like to see us place our children first. For once I’d like to see us make common sense decisions. For once I’d like to see us build them up, not tear them down.
For once I’d like to see us stop giving them Nicki Minaj.
Click here to read Denise Clay’s column: Don’t blame Nicki Minaj. Blame parents.
Featured Photo: Nicki Minaj performs at the Philly 4th of July Jam in Philadelphia on Friday, July 4, 2014. (Photo by Mark Stehle/Invision/AP)
Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com. Click here to learn more about Solomon