While the upcoming live action Barbie movie starring Robbie Margot will feature cameos by everyone from Issa Rae to John Cena (!), the movie’s soundtrack is equally star-studded: Amongst others, it features Lizzo, Dua Lipa and Ava Max, and now Ice Spice and Nicki Minaj announed that their collaborative track ‘Barbie World’ (sampling Aqua’s ‘Barbie Girl’) will soon join the not-yet-fully-revealed tracklist. Which is the bare minimum Nicki Minaj deserves, one might argue, given her playful pink past with America’s favorite doll:
When toy manufacturer Mattel suffered from declining sales of the Barbie doll franchise for eight consecutive quarters in 2015, it was indeed Nicki Minaj who had held ‘Barbie’ in the spotlight for years already – but with her very own twist. Her penchant for all things pink (and blonde), loud and larger-than-life was undeniable through her music videos and artworks and her girly-girly alter-ego: The Harajuku Barbie Presidentduane, termed after the colorful street style of Tokyo’s Harajuku district, which eventually culminated in her devoted fans calling themselves ‘Barbz’ too.
So whereas resembling a Barbie was connotated by some mostly with artificial (speak, doll-like) beauty standards, Nicki Minaj did and still does embrace the artificial look with wigs and over-the-top makeup. But due to multi-faceted songs and visuals, she always made it more-dimensional, casually demonstrating that a woman can be all of the above while also being intelligent, witty, demanding, vulnerable yet strong, and most importantly whatever the eff she wants.
If that sounds a lil’ (pun intended) familiar to you, it’s because you can’t spell Nicki Minaj without ‘K-I-M’: When black Barbie dolls were already being sold since the 1980s, but still had been produced with small noses and basically all-white features for the longest time, Lil’ Kim was the first public figure in the 90s to present her own self-determined and unapologetic take on the Barbie image. Or how a fan of the Brooklyn rapper summed it up on Twitter: “Part of the reason little black girls looked up to Kim so much was because she was that Barbie to them that they never got a chance to publicly see.”
So with two songs still pending at “to be announced” status on the (sound)tracklist for the Barbie movie right now, Kim’s hit single “The Jump Off” from 2003 would more than deserve a spot – it was the first time a rapper coined the phrase ‘black Barbie’ on wax too.