American Exceptionalism: Same Folks Who Can’t Afford Empire-inspired Clothing at Saks Bash Nicki Minaj for Line at Kmart.


I used to write a lot about music. I used to write a lot about hip hop music and I used to write a lot about hip hop popular culture. As a woman that is no easy feat. As a black woman, it is even more of a challenge.  It’s never other authors I have issues with in most cases, it’s those who comment on their posts.’s Tanay Hudson did a good preview of Nicki Minaj’s new clothing line. It wasn’t the article but the the raging stream of boastful, misspelled, misogynistic ignorance that followed in the comments that was too much.

People, I am baffled and besmirched. Befuddled and bemused. Saks Fifth Avenue announced in August sometime an Empire-inspired clothing line. All the Cookie’s closet conundrum their show’s fans can stand at prices they cannot afford, and not one model that even remotely looked like Cookie.  Instead, she looked like Kate Blanchett, but not one word of disrespect. Not one. These same folks were raving about Cookie’s clothing as if it defined what I hope is the decline of the “bad bitch” era.  Not even an honorable mention about their price tags where one halter top costs $895.  Totally unrealistic for those who want to feel like a celebrity but live on a working mom’s salary. Also, let’s not overlook the fact that the majority of the hip hop nation is so overly disenfranchised by racism, poor education and an unjust justice system that they can’t afford it!

But enter Nicki Minaj.  Throughout her career, she has gotten some things wrong, but lately Nicki has been hitting all the right notes with women, especially black women and other women of color and those who feel voiceless and forgotten.  Unlike her peers in the music business whose clothing lines come with exorbitant price tags one has to mortgage a house for or the TV flavor of the month, Nicki has opted for affordable fashion that is accessible and is designed to fit the bodies women have, not what the industry thinks  women should have.

Now let’s be real here, unless you are shaped like Nicki, you won’t look like her in the clothes.  You will look like you.  And, yes they are from Kmart, I am not sure how durable they are, but they are affordable and you won’t face eviction or repossession after buying just one outfit. Like  the Cookie Lyon’s-inspired fashions, they aren’t every day go-to-work wear, but you also don’t pay a car note for the privilege of not doing so, either.  What you can do is go out, have fun, and not worry how your next three months of pay is tied up in paying for something you may only wear once.’s comments section is flooded by wannabe emcees writing wack lyrics to find things that rhyme with Meek Mill, Kmart, Drake and Phil Collins (I kid you not). There are the people clowning her because it is Kmart.  There are those who are “well, it’s not Ralph,” or “I only shop at H&M.”  Of course there’s the “don’t shop on Black Friday” crowd. Then, there are the ones who just flat out call her dumb. Sadly, most of these commentators are men, black men.


I often wonder if they are ripping her apart because she’s Nicki and looks like Nicki. If she looked like a Kardashian and did this would Nicki’s skinfolk be so insensitive? Absolutely not! In the grand scheme of things, does it matter? In my opinion, absolutely not. Why? See, while they are ripping her clothing line apart in public, but buying it in secret, she can actually afford to buy every piece in the Empire line, even some of the custom pieces if she chooses, and not worry where her next meal is coming from.