According to science, the truly abysmal year that was 2016 is slated to be one second longer than previously expected. Given the exponential awfulness of this year, it’s safe to say that trolls, bullies, and the president-elect will be wreaking havoc up to and through this sick joke of a “leap second.” On Tuesday, Azealia Banks proved that she will be taking full advantage of every last minute of 2016, challenging herself to be the biggest social media troll that she can be.
In true 2016 fashion, the controversy stems from Nicki Minaj’s new mobile game, “Nicki Minaj: The Empire.” In a circulating screenshot from the game, Nicki appears to be throwing shade at Banks via a virtual character, comparing “Fan2Sea’s” newest album to a “mermaid song”—a “loud, obnoxious screech that goes on for hours.” Probably not coincidentally, Fantasea was the name of Azealia Banks’s 2012 debut mixtape.
Minaj has a history of unabashedly going after other entertainers. In the lead-up to the 2015 Video Music Awards, she beefed with not one but two big names: Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus. After Minaj critiqued the awards for snubbing the cinematic achievement that was “Anaconda,” Swift mistook Minaj’s racial commentary for a personal attack. What followed was a Twitter lesson on the perils of white feminism. Swift made everything about her, and tried to talk over Minaj’s legitimate complaints with a cry for female solidarity. Minaj, in turn, tore Swift to shreds, responding, “Huh? U must not be reading my tweets. Didn’t say a word about u.”
Luckily the Taylor takedown was just an amuse-bouche, whetting our appetites for the onscreen tension between Cyrus and Minaj. Cyrus, who was slated to host the show, was asked in a New York Times interview to comment on the Swift-Minaj situation. Her response was…inadvisable: “What I read sounded very Nicki Minaj, which, if you know Nicki Minaj is not too kind. It’s not very polite. I think there’s a way you speak to people with openness and love. You don’t have to start this pop star against pop star war.” Minaj responded in kind, not-very-politely referencing Cyrus in her subsequent VMA acceptance speech as “this bitch that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press.” In addition to the cultural touchstone of “Miley, what’s good?” this feud also marked the rare instance of a New York Times article instigating hip-hop beef.
Anyone who’s seen Minaj grind up on Drake knows that this woman does not half-ass it. That’s why this gaming “shade” is so strange. Traditionally, Minaj’s insults are as subtle as the Harajuku Barbie herself. Given Minaj’s semi-vague insult, Banks’s decision to fully drag her fellow female rapper was even more unexpected. The scandal-plagued Banks’s response was swift and ridiculously savage. In a now-deleted Facebook post, the rapper insisted that Nicki was salty over Banks’s upcoming single with her ex Safaree Samuels. “Nicki girl…now listen,” Banks began. “Don’t start throwing shade cause [sic] you miss safaree and know that I’ve actually made a BANGER with him.”
From there, things escalated quickly. Banks criticized Minaj for her style, her body, and her Minaj-branded Myx moscato. After telling her to “slim down a bit,” she continued, “Also stop calling yourself the queen of rap. Queens don’t wear spandex sweety. Marketing genius yes, but your cheap made in China perfume smells like car freshener and your beverage tastes like kitchen cleaner.” She also accused the rapper of acting like a “Gaga-knock off,” adding, “I don’t understand why you are so impressed with yourself.” Banks then snuck in a particularly nasty, unsolicited New Year’s Resolution: “In 2017 I hope you find some new inspiration and decrease your butt implants you would honestly look SOOOOO much better,” before signing off with a “Cheers to female rap! Happy Holidays!” Suffice to say, Banks’ season’s greetings went over about as well as expected, and she promptly deleted the post.
Unfortunately, the online ravings of a Kanye-level troll might be the least of Minaj’s worries. According to reports, Minaj’s extremely lucky boyfriend/beneficiary has been acting up. Meek Mill, better known as Drake’s favorite punching bag, has notoriously ridden the coattails of his far more famous significant other. In return, Minaj allowed Mill to be photographed beside her and repeatedly denied their relationship, probably just to keep him in his place. And in the grand tradition of men being idiots, Mill didn’t realize how good he had it. According to reports, Minaj recently broke up with the rapper after learning that he had pursued a year-long affair with a “Philadelphia boutique owner.” Adding insult to injury, it appears that Mill may have bankrolled his boo’s business endeavors—aka maxed out whatever allowance Minaj gave him on his mistress.
Fans first started raising alarms when they realized that Mill and Minaj had stopped following each other on Instagram. But the real smoking gun came earlier this week, when Mill posted a mysterious Instagram of a woman’s butt, clad in sheer red lingerie. Comments quickly pointed out that this picture shared only a passing resemblance to Minaj’s famous posterior. More tellingly, the rapper captioned his post “Sitting back like…$avage…just friends.” He also teased the mystery woman’s identity on Snapchat, before labellng that info “confidential.” Judging from Mill’s super-suspicious social media usage, Minaj really has “dodged the bullet.” While Minaj is already back to her regularly scheduled programming, taunting her ex with luxury locales and Instagram thirst traps, the notion that she also had a pretty brutal 2016 is a sick sort of comfort. Stars—they’re just like us!