Nicki Minaj's "Chun-Li"

Nicki Minaj's "Chun-Li"

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Updated Feb 07, 2019 at 05:43PM EST by Brad.

Added May 21, 2018 at 05:30PM EDT by Particle Mare.

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Nicki Minaj's "Chun-Li" is a song by American hip hop artist Nicki Minaj. After performing the piece for Saturday Night Live, Minaj became the subject of controversy in the news and on social media for the performance's extensive references to Asian culture, with some commentators accusing her of cultural appropriation.


"Chun-Li" was originally released on April 12th, 2018,[1] with the official music video subsequently being uploaded to YouTube on May 4th, where it received over 30 million views in two weeks (shown below). The song's title is a reference to Street Fighter character Chun-Li.[2]


SNL Performance

On May 19th, 2018, Minaj performed the track on Saturday Night Live (shown below). The performance featured strong Asian imagery.

After the performance, critics debated as to whether Minaj had engaged in cultural appropriation. The Root[3] summarized the online reaction as having "rumbled with accusations of cultural appropriation and the fetishization of Asian culture." Twitter user @official_janaee called the performance "blatant" cultural appropriation, gaining over 38 retweets and 170 likes (shown below, left). User @MiekeEoyang offered the opinion that she did not see Minaj as appropriating culture but embracing a strong female identity, gaining over 270 retweets and 900 likes (shown below, right). The reactions were covered by NME.[4] The Root[3] also took the opportunity to dive into what is considered cultural appropriation and whether people are justified in taking offense to certain tropes.

janae @official_janaee Follow why is no one talking about nicki minaj's blatant cultural appropriation??? 1:09 AM -20 May 2018 mieke eoyang @MiekeEoyang Follow So I do not read @NICKIMINAJ's portrayal of Chun-Li as "appropriation" but as an embrace of a strong female character, both transcendent of race, but also as a nod to the long cultural connections between the African American & Asian communities. /end. 2:22 AM -20 May 2018


The track was well received by critics, who praised Minaj's loose style and sparse production, which was reminiscent of her mixtape days. The song debuted at #92 on the Billboard Hot 100, and the following week, reached number 10, its peak position as of May 23rd, 2018.

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