With “Hiss” and “Big Foot,” what is the

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Rap superstar Megan Thee Stallion is embarking on a new, independent era. Following a long legal battle with her former record label and the trial of her former associate Tory Lanez for shooting her in the foot, Megan seemed poised to turn her traumatic experiences into a compelling, emotionally raw album, with an accompanying tour in the works. But first, she has some beef to settle — or maybe not — with a fellow emcee and now rival, Nicki Minaj.

Last Friday, Megan dropped her latest single, “Hiss,” in which she takes shots at several unnamed targets. Aside from the general crowd of online haters, fans have linked some of her jabs to Drake and an ex-boyfriend, rapper Pardison Fontaine.

However, one particular lyric — “These hoes don’t be mad at Megan, these hoes mad at Megan’s Law” — stood out. It references the federal law requiring information about registered sex offenders to be publicized, which seemed to strike a chord with Minaj. Her husband, Kenneth “Zoo” Petty, is affected by this legislation, as he is a level 2 registered sex offender in the state of New York.

A few days later, the “Super Bass” singer counteracted with a diss track — although she criticized PopBase on X for calling it that — titled “Big Foot.” Despite the song racking up millions of views and streams, it has largely been received poorly by critics and social media users across both Megan’s and Minaj’s fan bases. It feels like a turning point in Minaj’s career as one of the most respected female rappers in the game.

Nicki Minaj performing onstage with curly red hair.

Nicki Minaj performing at iHeartRadio Y100’s Jingle Ball in Miami in 2023.

Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

What started the beef?

Minaj and Megan weren’t always on bad terms. In 2019, they collaborated on Megan’s single “Hot Girl Summer” and filmed a music video dressed in matching outfits and wigs. During the song’s release, the two appeared on Instagram Live together, and Megan gushed about Minaj on X. In light of recent events, a user reply to Megan’s post warning her that “this peace ain’t gonna last” has gone viral. It seems that intuition was spot-on.

It’s unclear when things turned sour between the former acquaintances. Many have speculated that Minaj took issue with Megan’s collaborations with Cardi B. The pair collabed most famously on the 2020 hit “WAP” and more recently on 2023’s “Bongos.” Minaj previously sparred with the “Bodak Yellow” rapper after both featured on Migos’s 2017 song “MotorSport,” which escalated into a physical altercation. However, in a November 2020 interview, Megan claimed that her relationship with Minaj hadn’t changed despite her affiliation with Cardi.

By January 2021, though, Minaj had unfollowed Megan on Instagram. She also released the track “Seeing Green,” which has a line about “alcoholics” that’s speculated to be about Megan. (Megan is known for her signature party trick in which she pours alcohol into women’s mouths.)

The following year, Minaj went on her Beats 1 show Queen Radio to air out an anonymous celebrity who allegedly tried to pressure her into drinking while she was pregnant with her child. She also claimed this person advised her to “go to the clinic.” After the broadcast, Meg called the allegations a “lie” on X.

Minaj seemingly struck at the Grammy winner again on her 2023 single “Ruby Red Da Sleaze” with the line “I don’t fuck with horses since Christopher Reeves.” A bar on the song “FTCU” — “Stay in your Tory lane” — has also been interpreted as a hit at Megan, specifically her highly publicized trial with R&B singer Tory Lanez.

However, the release of “Hiss” on January 26 escalated a simmering, somewhat forgettable beef to another level. The “Megan’s Law” line sent the internet into a tizzy, with listeners immediately connecting the lyric to Minaj’s spouse. When Minaj reconnected with her high-school boyfriend in 2018, fans quickly discovered his criminal history, including a 1995 conviction for the attempted rape of a then-16-year-old girl. Since then, Petty’s victim has been vocal about the threats she’s received from the couple.

Over the weekend, Minaj took several digs at Megan on X, mocking her assault by Lanez and even her mother, who passed away from brain cancer in 2019. Many of these remarks ended up on “Big Foot” (the title being a jab Megan’s tall frame), which was released on Sunday night. In the roughly four-minute track, Minaj recycles online conspiracies and negative comments surrounding Megan’s trial with Lanez and references her deceased mother multiple times. Three minutes in, the music drops out, and Minaj goes on an ASMR-y rant, promising a “second installment.” Despite its provocative lyrics, the song has yet to elicit a direct response from Megan.

Is this the feud fans want?

As rap becomes an increasingly dominant force in mainstream culture, beefs have evolved into highly anticipated spectacles. The results can range from shockingly amusing — like Pusha T exposing Drake’s secret son — to deadly — like the East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry of the ‘90s, most famously. Regardless, there’s a level of novelty required to keep the public enthralled. In their best iterations, beefs are exercises in mythmaking, an opportunity for a rapper to reach legendary status or reaffirm their power.

In the case of Minaj vs. Megan, though, the novelty aspect is missing. The apparent digs at each other are built upon information that fans are already well aware of. Additionally, it’s hard to spot an upside for either artist’s career, or even a clear victor.

On one hand, “Hiss” has been received well online by Megan’s fans and general listeners. As of publication, five versions of the song occupy Top 10 spots on the iTunes charts, in addition to the track topping the Apple Music Top 100 charts. Much of this is owed to the successful mobilization of her fans, known as Hotties. When Minaj released “Big Foot,” Megan fans even shared a file of the song on X so listeners wouldn’t contribute to Minaj’s streams.

On the other hand, the treatment Megan is currently experiencing by the Barbz is quite hellish. As expected, Minaj’s fan base is working just as hard as the Hotties to amplify their queen — although their tactics look a lot different. On Tuesday, TMZ reported that the Texas cemetery where Megan’s mother is buried had notified the police and increased security personnel after Minaj’s stans leaked the address on social media. Fans have also doxed users criticizing Minaj’s response to Megan, including the TikTok account @belatown, whose rant against Minaj went viral.

It’s not just the toxic stan activity that’s been hard to observe. Minaj’s trolling of Meg doesn’t read as an equal or fair response to Megan’s supposed diss, particularly the mocking of her serious assault. Even with the inherently petty nature of a diss track, most can agree that referencing someone’s criminal record isn’t at all comparable to weaponizing the trauma of losing a parent or being shot by a man.

Particularly after the cyberbullying and smear campaign Megan experienced during the Tory Lanez trial, it’s hard not to feel sympathetic for a young rapper whose career has already been so plagued by misogynoir. Right now, though, Megan’s wisest move might be her continued silence, leaving spectators to dwell in the unpleasant aftertaste of “Big Foot.”

What will this mean for their careers?

For the most part, Minaj — much like fellow femcee Doja Cat — has defied the laws of “cancellation” throughout her tumultuous career. Her catalog continues to generate millions of streams. She’s a master of memes and often very funny on Instagram Live and in interviews. But her low blows and the enabling of her stans’ poor behavior have noticeably started to turn a lot of her former defenders off.

While Minaj has exchanged words with men, her propensity to feud with women feels at odds with the message of female empowerment that makes this era of rap so exciting. That isn’t to say that female rappers must always present a united front on the basis of their marginalization. (In the past, women have contributed to some legendary hip-hop feuds.) But it’s nice to see female rappers exhibit the same easy camaraderie their male counterparts do — most of the time — and build relationships that lead to iconic collaborations, such as “WAP.”

It’s not surprising that Minaj’s collaborations with rappers Sexxy Red, Doja Cat, and Ice Spice have provided some of the most fun and satisfying moments in her recent career. Still, her displays of female peership throughout her career have been rare and short-lived.

This latest feud has also caused critics to question the direction of Minaj’s artistry. It’s safe to say “Big Foot” is hardly a lyrical match for previous diss tracks like 2012’s “Stupid Hoe.” At the time, the single seemed to point at Lil’ Kim while maintaining enough ambiguity to exist on its own as an anti-hater anthem. But the release of “Big Foot” is notably lacking that sort of finesse.

In a review for Complex, writer Peter A. Berry criticized the lack of “craft and care” put into “Big Foot.” He writes, “In a Nicki era that’s been characterized by covert cattiness, this was all but a proper course correction. Instead, it feels like blowing up the whole route, especially when considering other recent instances of thrilling rap beef.” (For her part, Minaj claims the track is just a joke.)

Despite her previous resilience from backlash, it seems like Minaj’s actions have gotten too ugly for a lot of fans. Unfortunately, there’s still a possibility that things could get uglier.

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