Nicki Minaj defends reciting Maya Angelou’s ‘Still I Rise’: ‘My entire career has been that poem’

In November, Nicki Minaj raised a few eyebrows when she recited Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise” during A&E’s Shining A Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America. Social media erupted with people criticizing Minaj for not being dressed appropriately enough white reciting Angelou’s iconic work.

Minaj responded to those critics in a recent interview with Billboard, saying that people were missing the whole point of the poem.

“It was the most spot-on poem that Nicki Minaj could have ever read. And it’s funny; it ended up proving a point. Because I remember going online after and lots of people said such beautiful things. But there was one lady, an older black woman, who said, ‘She shouldn’t be reading that poem.’ And she discussed how I dressed. I love that she said that, because she doesn’t even realize the poem is discussing sexiness, owning your sex appeal,” Minaj said.

She then quoted the lines from the poem again: “Does my sexiness upset you?/Does it come as a surprise/That I dance like I’ve got diamonds/At the meeting of my thighs?”

“And this woman, she was discussing her PhDs, all this education she had — but she couldn’t put two and two together about the theme of the poem. My entire career has been that poem in a nutshell,” Minaj continued.