Nicki Minaj Appears to Call Kanye West a ‘Clown’ After Cutting ‘Monster’ from Festival Set

Minaj headlined the 2022 Essence Festival of Culture in New Orleans on Friday

Nicki Minaj, Kanye West

Nicki Minaj, Kanye West. Photo: Daniele Venturelli/WireImage; Gotham/GC Images

Did Nicki Minaj throw shade at Kanye West?

During her headlining performance at the 2022 Essence Festival of Culture in New Orleans on Friday, Minaj instructed her DJ to stop playing her West collaboration “Monster” and appeared to call the Chicago-born rapper a “clown.”

After performing her parts from a few early hits — including Drake collaboration “Make Me Proud” and Young Money’s “Bedrock” — the 39-year-old rapper’s DJ began playing “Monster,” a track from West’s 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy featuring a verse from Minaj that’s been regarded as her all-time greatest by outlets including Complex.

“A monster though! A monster though! But we don’t f— with clowns,” a grinning Minaj told fans after the song stopped playing. She then changed the subject and said she wanted to “give a shout-out to New Orleans” in lieu of performing the two-time Platinum-certified hit.

In addition to “Monster,” Minaj and West, 45, collaborated on another My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy track titled “Dark Fantasy,” and he appeared on “Blazin” from her Pink Friday album the same year. They’ve since worked together on West’s 2018 track “Violent Crimes,” as well as a collaboration with controversial rapper 6ix9ine titled “MAMA.”

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Minaj and West also teamed up a song for West’s scrapped Yandhi album titled “New Body,” which leaked online after he previewed it during a listening session with The Fader in September 2018. The song and its studio session were previewed during a 2019 episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, though “New Body” was later scrapped, as West decided to go in a gospel direction for his project, Jesus Is King.

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“What’s funny is that I did a song with Kanye, that he now wants to transform into a gospel song,” Minaj told The Shade Room in October 2019. “I done wrote three different verses chile, and I don’t know. We ain’t seeing eye to eye on it. I don’t know, but of course, I love and respect Kanye, and Kim, we’ll see what happens with that.”

A clip from the song went viral on TikTok in April 2020, and Minaj’s fans then trended #ReleaseNewBody on social media. In June of the same year, Minaj asked her followers to urge West and his then-wife Kim Kardashian, 41, to release the track.

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Nicki Minaj. Getty

Part of the “New Body” music video leaked in July 2020, and West announced the song would be included on his Donda album, though it didn’t end up making the album’s final track listing and remains unreleased.

The song’s lack of release didn’t seem to spark a feud between the two artists, as they later attempted to collaborate on a collaboration for West’s Yeezy fashion brand. However, Minaj told radio host Joe Budden the project was scrapped because he felt Kardashian “probably wouldn’t love” its concept.

She recalled telling West, “Hey look, I’m about to do something and I just wanted to make sure I spoke to you first,” and claimed he responded, “‘Well, if I did something with you, I think my wife probably wouldn’t love that idea because I should be giving that to my wife instead. If I was doing a female version of the Yeezys or whatever, it should probably go to my wife.'”

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Minaj said the incident led her to wonder why a figure who “was very vocal about the fashion industry not letting him in at one time” would bar another Black musician from entering the field.

She continued, “So if a Black female rapper who you know has just shown herself to be sellable in that space — and this is not from Joe Schmoe from down the block this is from Fendi saying, ‘Right, all of these things fall right off the shelf’ — then when I come to you as a Black man that I look up to, I’m doing that because you inspired me, because you said the fashion industry didn’t want to let us in, even though we’re so influential.”

Their relationship wasn’t completely severed after the debacle, as Minaj thanked Yeezy and its parent brand, Adidas, on Instagram for sending her son several pairs of children’s Yeezy shoes in October 2020 following his birth.

On Friday, Cardi B — who has had a long public feud with Minaj — released her new single single “Hot S—,” featuring none other than West.

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