Nicki Minaj’s anti-vaccination tweets sent the internet into a storm this past week. However, with news circulating that Minaj is due to testify in court in her husband’s case, we can’t help but wonder, was she trying to distract us? From anti-vax misinformation to a convicted sex-offender husband, it’s a tough time to be a barb right now.
Minaj got into hot water this week after she tweeted her explanation for her in-attendance to the MET Gala 2021; she cited concern for the health of her new child as well as her worry about vaccination until further research. But it was her following tweet that really caused the stir.
Citing an example of concern surrounding vaccination, Minaj wrote, “My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine because his friend got it and became impotent. His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl has called off the wedding. So just pray on it and make sure you’re comfortable with your decision, not bullied.”
The tweets created a large heated discourse which permeated all corners of the internet and even, unbelievably, ended up in a UK government press conference with Professor Chris Whitty and Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Although England’s Chief Medical Officer stated that it was a “basic principle of medical ethics” for people to have the right to choose whether or not to get vaccinated, he continued on by saying how “shameful” spreading misinformation is.
“There are also people who go around trying to discourage other people from taking a vaccine, which could be life-saving or prevent them from having life-changing injuries to themselves,” Whitty answered when asked about Minaj’s tweets. “Many of those people, I regret to say, I think know that they are peddling untruths, but they still do it. In my view, they should be ashamed.”
The debate and attitude to Minaj is still ongoing, in fact, it’s dominated the internet. Everywhere you look it’s about these tweets, which is exactly why we’re here to talk about what’s not trending yet should be—the rapper’s husband’s potential ten additional years in jail for failing to register himself as a sex offender. Oops, did you miss that was going on too?
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Minaj’s husband, Kenneth Petty, is facing some serious legal trouble ahead. Pitchfork reported that Petty was arrested in March 2020 for not registering himself as a sex offender in California, following his move from New York (from where his registration was granted). The charge put to Petty cites that, upon his move to California in July 2019, he failed to register himself within the five working day window when moving.
The report added that the New York State’s Sex Offender Registry states that an individual must declare their status within ten days of change in address to the Division of Criminal Justice Services. In documents obtained by People, Petty’s initial plea was not guilty; however, as of August 2021, a guilty plea deal was agreed upon and later formally logged on 9 September. Petty’s sentencing is due 24 January 2022. Following his March arrest, he was released on a bail of $20,000 and was suspected of still facing similar charges.
Petty’s hearing (9 September), in which he pleaded guilty, fell on the same day Minaj declared that she would not be attending the VMAs, leaving the explanation for “another day.” His sex offender status occurred when he was convicted of first-degree attempted rape in New York in 1995—both him and the victim being 16-years-old at the time of the incident. This is reportedly not the only conviction Petty has faced.
According to records obtained by The Blast, Petty pled guilty to first-degree manslaughter in a shooting of a man in 2002 and served seven years with a sentence of ten. Despite these allegations against him, Minaj continued the relationship and continued his defence. Aside from his plea, another legal situation may have been the real reason for her absence from this year’s MET Gala.
Minaj has repeatedly come to Petty’s defence, and in reported Instagram comments responding to the criticism surrounding her relationship, she wrote, “He was 15, she was 16…in a relationship. But go awf Internet. Y’all can’t run my life. Y’all can’t even run y’all own life. Thank you boo.” She just defended him, right? She hasn’t actually done anything. Well, that may not be the case as more serious allegations come forward.
Both Petty and Minaj are being sued by the victim, Jennifer Hough, for allegedly attempting to force her to retract her account of the incident. Hough claimed in her suit that she and her family were continuously contacted by the couple after his California arrest. According to the lawsuit, Minaj was accused of offering $500,000 to a member of Hough’s family in exchange for getting the victim to say that the sexual assault did not take place. Hough herself (as stated in the suit) was allegedly offered on a separate occasion to sign a document recanting her accounts for $20,000.
The lawsuit, filed for intimidation, alleges that Minaj “directly and indirectly intimidated, harassed and threatened [Hough] to recant her legitimate claim that Defendant Petty raped her. In a video posted online and shared by Hollywood Unlocked, Hough tearfully spoke to the couple, “This message is for Nicki Minaj and Kenneth Petty. Tell your people to leave my family alone. Don’t call my fucking family, don’t call my brothers, don’t call anybody. Leave me and my family the fuck alone.”
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If the lawsuit is carried out, it is likely Minaj will have to testify. While her tweets were shocking and warranted some fair criticism, the outrage surrounding this sex-offender’s legal case pales in comparison. And as the singer perpetuates the narrative of ‘being bullied’ into vaccination, she blissfully (and unsurprisingly) forgets the real bullying Petty’s victim has faced.
In 2018, Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown, aged 14 at the time, revealed on the Emmy Awards’ red carpet that she and Canadian rapper Drake were “great friends” who regularly text. “We just texted each other the other day and he was like ‘I miss you so much’, and I was like ‘I miss you more’. He’s great,” she told Access Hollywood. At the time, Drake was 32.
Almost immediately after the news broke, the internet—especially the Twitter community, obviously—began to express concern about the two celebrities’ relationship. Soon after the controversy started, it quickly became clear that Brown wasn’t the only underage girl Drake was texting.
In November 2019, Billie Eilish sat down with Vanity Fair for the third year in the row where she was given identical interview questions. In the video, Eilish is asked the same series of questions about her life and career as her old interviews are played back so that she can react to them, noting how much her life has changed in a few short years. One of the questions that she got asked was “Who is the most famous person in your phone?” In the 2017 interview, the singer named fellow singer, Khalid, who she also referred to as “a homie of mine.”
In 2019 however, Eilish had a lot more famous people in her contacts to cite. She listed Hailey and Justin Bieber, Young Thug, Avril Lavigne, Ariana Grande, Kid Cudi, Ty Dolla $ign, Teyana Taylor, and countless others that she chose not to mention before she finally landed on Drake. She then went into a brief monologue about how nice the rapper is, especially given his celebrity status and success.
She continued on to mention that they have spoken via text in the past. “But like Drake, c’mon. Drake. Drake is like the nicest dude I’ve ever spoken to. I mean I’ve only like texted him, but he’s so nice. Like, he does not need to be nice. You know what I mean? He’s at a level of his life where he doesn’t need to be nice, but he is. You know?” Eilish rambled during the interview. Although the exchanges between her and Drake may very well be harmless, some fans found it suspicious that the (then 33-year-old) artist was once again found to be texting an underage girl.
Although suspicious enough to raise some eyebrows, the two situations mentioned above were not the only times Drake has exhibited some predatory behaviour. Back in May 2010, while performing in Denver, Colorado, the rapper invited a fan to come up on stage with him. Someone present at the concert filmed what happened next in a video that resurfaced online in 2019, soon after Brown revealed that Drake, who she had initially met in Australia back in November 2017, texted her “advice about boys.”
In the 2010 clip, the Canadian rapper invites the girl on stage during his performance at the Ogden Theater, dances with her, kisses her neck, comments on her shampoo, then pulls her shirt down at the back of the neck to kiss her again. After reaching both hands across her chest while standing behind her, he picks up his microphone and says he is getting “carried away.” When asked about her age, the girl replies: “17,” to which Drake responds: “I can’t go to jail yet, man!”
Even after discovering her age, he continues, “Why do you look like that? You thick. Look at all this. I don’t know if I should feel guilty or not, but I had fun. I like the way your breasts feel against my chest.” He is then seen kissing her on the cheeks and forehead in a way that can only be described as extremely creepy. Drake would have been 23 at the time the video was taken. The age of consent in Colorado is 17. To this day, he has not responded to the video and his US publicist has always declined to comment on the matter.
If you thought that was the end of it when it comes to Drizzy’s questionable ways, think again. In the song ‘Mr. Right Now’ released in 2020 by Atlanta-based rapper 21 Savage and American record producer Metro Boomin on their collaborative album Savage Mode II, Drake sings a verse that garnered particular attention for its mention of SZA.
“Yeah, said she wanna fuck to some SZA, wait ‘cause I used to date SZA back in ‘08,” Drake raps on the track. In 2008, SZA would have been 17 and Drake 22. While the age of consent in the rapper’s hometown of Toronto is 16, it is 18 where he currently resides in California.
Honestly, there seems to be a recurring pattern here. Drake’s interest in impressionable young women is “a systemic issue in a society which has a surplus of men in power, as well as an abundance of women who have ambitions to be seen, to be understood, to attain power themselves within the existing societal structure,” as writer Sandra Song pointed out in a 2018 article for NYLON.
And in most cases, it’s a situation that lends itself to varying degrees of abuse, which is why it simply can’t be overlooked. “What about the other young women this sort of thing happens to who, unlike Brown, aren’t in the public eye?” continued Song. Let’s not forget about Lifetime’s Surviving R Kelly documentary, which featured heart-wrenching interviews with multiple women who say they were abused by the singer, oftentimes out in the open, and yet no one did anything to stop him.
Celebrity culture may have blurred the lines between mutual consent and predatory behaviour, but it’s the accumulation of small events like the ones Drake has been involved in that need attention before one more YouTube video surfaces and we scramble to erase its impact on impressionable minds.