Nicki Minaj follows me on Twitter. I guess you could say things are getting pretty serious between us.
Really though. She really does. It’s a real thing that really happened.
I’ve never written an article about her, I’ve never bought one of her albums, and outside of "Monster," "Starships," and "Beez in the Trap," I'd be hard-pressed to name a single song of hers. But goddamn it, Nicki Minaj follows me on Twitter.
I’ve never been social media savvy. I barely Snapchat, I don’t have an Instagram and my Facebook is desolate. It’s just not in me to be constantly plugged in. Hell, even Twitter is more of a job than a personal thing. I write about music, do you really care about my life outside of that? I don’t put much stock in social media, but the second I saw that international celebrity Nicki Minaj followed me I felt a rush and understood it completely. My heart actually raced. A goofy grin covered my face. I even felt accomplished. It was ridiculous.
Why? Because a famous person follows me?
On a certain level, I write everything knowing that it could be read by the article's subject, but that only goes so far. If I'm writing about a more underground artist or producer it's not hard to picture them reading my words, but someone famous? And then there's famous and Nicki Minaj level famous. She’s in her own world. Yet she took the time, effort and energy to read something I wrote about her boyfriend Meek Mill, track me down on Twitter and follow me.
Was it a thank you? Her way of acknowledging me? I felt like a child handpicked out of a crowd for a blessing by the Pope. For a fleeting moment, I felt close to her, famous by association, but the reality is I’m no closer to her than before. She’s just as inaccessible.
What was I going do? Slide into her DMs? Ask for an interview? Thank her for the follow? Twitter gives us the illusion that we know celebrities, that they are a Twitter finger away, but the reality is that the stars are just as distant.
So Nicki Minaj follows me, so what? My life hasn't changed at all, it's certainly no better. There’s no special lane for me on the highway. But the odd thing that happened when Nicki followed me was that an entire Barbie army followed her lead, thrusting me into an entire world of Nicki superfans I knew existed but hadn't really seen. Bizarrely for someone known for wearing sweatpants for days at a time and whose favorite emcee is Black Thought, my Twitter interactions are now split evenly between underground hip-hop heads and Nicki super fans.
Theoretically, of course, it's known that some fans are obsessed with their favorite stars, but seeing it so up close was borderline shocking. Here we have a group of people who seemingly devoted hours of their lives every day in pursuit of having Nicki Minaj follow them—it was strange to accidentally stumble into the very thing all these people wanted so desperately.
And no, desperate is not an exaggeration:
Why, though? Are they chasing that same ephemeral high I had for a single moment? Is it that powerful? That important? I’d love to say no, I’d love to hop on my high horse and look down on those who dedicate themselves to her--there’s no real life value to Twitter—but at the same time, isn’t social media real life?
The internet has become such a part of our lives, it’s hard to separate what happens online from reality, and the reality is that Nicki Minaj has social media clout that affects people's real lives.
I’ve heard of hives and Barbies and Beliebers, but I’ve never been a part of nor experienced them. To this day, I am still experiencing the Barbies. Since Nicki followed me, there’s been a steady stream of Nicki Minaj fans and tribute pages following me. There are fans who not only dedicate their pages to Minaj in hopes of a follow or a retweet but go through and follow everyone she follows.
I love hip-hop and consider myself a passionate fan, but I could never imagine begging Kanye for a follow, writing a love letter to him in my bio, or following a Kardashian or a rap blogger simply because he does. It’s a level of fandom I guess I just don't understand.
It’s a culture I feel so far removed from but was thrown into when Minaj hit that follow button; an underground rap blogger set adrift amidst the Barbies. It’s easy to look down on those fans, and it’s easy to write social media off as “internet fame,” but being followed by Nicki and watching the reaction has shown me that while I may scoff at social media, the power behind it is undeniable.
Nicki Minaj follows me on Twitter. It’s weird.