And “Shether,” Remy Ma’s diss track directed at Nicki, is perfect PR: a classic beat that immediately recalls one of hip-hop’s greatest beefs playing under a seven-minute rant that positions Remy as “more street” than Nicki, and more grounded with the common fan. Listening to the track, you’d think that Remy would rather a Funk Flex shout out than a corporate contract. Its genius is in Remy playing to her demographic: older rap fans that remember her run and who still buy albums. And in the press that has followed the “Shether” drop, specifically her interview on The Wendy Williams Show, Remy revealed that she only recorded the song because Nicki was trying to freeze her out of red carpets and events — a move that’s more Hollywood than rap. Many questioned why she even did the interview, but she’s not underestimating her opponent. The two aren’t just playing in the field of lyricism. They’re playing for cash.
And unlike the entire history of rap beefs, Remy isn’t just trying to be crowned winner; the title only polishes her image. It’s not the goal. Which is why Nicki’s response, “No Frauds,” works so well. She reminds us of how established she is within rap, the unlimited resources she has to expound against Remy, and how much ground Remy has to lose with even one misstep. The glorious queen is basically saying, You rapped for seven minutes and I rapped for two but only one of us is on the radio. Lyricism is great if Remy’s just trying to add to her Wikipedia page, but she said it herself: she’s coming for her bag. A diss track that makes no money is surely a sore point for someone trying to make all the money she can. Remy isn’t chasing hollow opportunities and is instead building a brand, following the familiar steps of a well-oiled image machine: TV appearances, podcast interviews, women’s magazine features.
To be crowned Queen of New York rap — or rap, in its entirety — is much broadly defined in this era. Even in the late ’90s and early 2000s, Foxy Brown and Lil Kim were posing for fashion ads, inflating their chesticles, and walking red carpets — all while backbiting each other on wax! But today’s game is far more advanced, thanks to the crossover efforts of the ladies of ’90s rap. Today, women who rap can enjoy the full effect of of pop domination, and the players are no longer fools of companies that bet on Black cool.
The greatness of Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma’s rap battle is in proving that we’ve reached levels where women in rap both have metrics and PR machines to boost their numbers. It takes more than enough talent to get any awards as a woman in rap, even to this day, so the bars will never be lacking. But Remy is six years behind Nicki feeding audiences, dominating the industry, and setting the commercial standards. She might have a different narrative to sell but she still has a greater goal, and though they’ll continue to face double standards as women working in rap, it is quite refreshing to see the bad bitches in the game cruising on another level.