Ice Spice at Cardi B Hosts Fashion Night Out collaged infront of the music videos she did with Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj.

Ice Spice’s Managers Seem Committed to Positioning Her as Damage Control

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When Ice Spice released “Boy’s a liar Pt. 2” with PinkPanteress, she solidified herself as more than a one-hit wonder and sensation on TikTok. “In Ha Mood” and “Bikini Bottom” pulled numbers, but her collab with PinkPanteress showed Ice Spice’s versatility. It was unexpected but perfect; their sound shares a similar reference point, decade-wise, but across many different genres. However, Ice Spice’s management might not feel the same, as they’ve connected her with several questionable collaborations since the start of the year. Namely, two female artists currently dealing with the juxtaposition of their image/legacy and their romantic partnerships.

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This article contains mentions of racism and sexual assault.

Recognition from rap royalty

Weeks after Ice Spice expressed adoration for Nicki Minaj, the pair released a remix to the single “Princess Diana.” The title is a play on the nickname The People’s Princess, which started as a meme that Ice Spice then adopted. As a hip-hop artist, it is a big deal for Ice Spice to collab with one of the most influential women in rap history. It also was a noticeable departure from Minaj’s entire discography and persona.

While Minaj has made music with many women, very few are Black women in hip-hop and rap. Until recently, this was the standard for women in these genres. Feigning scarcity, the music industry rarely allows women to take up space in male-dominated genres. Minaj challenged the industry in many ways, but pulling up her contemporaries wasn’t one of them. Rather, Minaj has been quick to engage in feuds. What’s worse is that she’s been caught several times siccing her loyal fanbase (The Barbz) on anyone she takes issue with.

While the wider public has zeroed in on her anti-vax views, Minaj has been criticized for her relationship with her husband, Kenneth Petty. Some criticism of her partnering goes back to 2018 due to Petty’s history of alleged sexual assault, especially in light of her association with feminist ideas. However, the criticism expanded to Minaj in 2022 when the woman who accused Petty of attempted rape came forward with allegations that Minaj, Petty, and their associates tried to intimidate her into recanting with threats and bribery. While some could fathom Minaj silently standing by her brother, who’s in jail for committing sexual crimes that are arguably worse, many questioned her standing by a new partner. Minaj took a short-lived retirement from 2019 to 2022, but continued to make music. After Petty failed to register as a sex offender following their move to California in 2019, a Los Angeles federal court placed him on house arrest in 2021.

Because Minaj worked through “retirement” with several young artists, there’s no direct connection to the Ice Spice collab as a PR move. However, things changed a few weeks later when Ice Spice released another remix—again, with another female artist at the top of her game and marred by her chosen relationship with a terrible person. One time is an eyebrow raise, but twice begins to establish a pattern.

Bad Blood

@taylorerastour

THEY PERFORMED TOGETHER OMG! #karmaremix #swiftok #ts #eastruthtstheerastour #tstheerastour #taylorswift #concert #icespice

♬ Karma (feat. Ice Spice) – Taylor Swift

I’m talking, of course, about Taylor Swift and The 1975 frontman Matty Healy. Only sticking to the last few years, we’ve barely touched the surface on Healey’s rap sheet of bigotry. However, what makes this collaboration different from the Minaj situation is that Ice Spice is directly involved. On a February episode of The Adam Friedland Show (a podcast for the “dirtbag left”), Healy and the hosts made racist comments about Ice Spice and her body. In the now-viral clips (the episode was taken off streaming platforms), they mock Chinese, Hawai’ian, and Inuit people. Later in the podcast, their nastiness extended to mocking Japanese people, and Healy discussing masturbating to pornography of Black women being racially brutalized.

In April, Healy gave a “sorry if I’ve offended you” response regarding the Ice Spice comments. However, just a few weeks later he shrugged off everything he said on the podcast, insisting that people who were offended were either lying about it or “a bit mental for being hurt.” There was no word about the number of other bigoted things he’s said, done, and worn. The criticism has extended to Swift for a number of reasons, the first of which is, obviously, that her relationships have played a major element in many of her albums. Not just romantic relationships, but professional ones, like her time with Scooter Braun. Over the years, Swift fostered a parasocial relationship with fans, going so far as inviting them into her home. Possibly most importantly, Swift and her followers have positioned her as a capital “F” feminist despite her very white feminist behavior.

So, when Taylor Swift released a remix of “Karma” featuring Ice Spice in late May, it was beyond suspicious. Sure, it’s within the realm of possibility that this collab was in the works for months. Possibly before the February podcast, or the re-emergence of the clips in April, when it was confirmed she and Healy were dating. Defenders of the Swift and Ice Spice collab point to the time it takes to organize a music video. (Even as the Swift-directed video bears an uncanny resemblance to another artist’s recent video.) However, it’s hard to buy for a few reasons.

This is the first woman of color Swift has released a song with in her 17-year career. Swift is very aware of the temperature of her fandom, making her silence on the subject very loud. Another song on these Midnights remix albums (Til Dawn Edition and Late Night Edition) is “Snow on the Beach,” which features more Lana Del Rey because the first remix was criticized for its weak Lana Del Rey feature. With the control Swift maintains over her work now, that would not fly without her approval. Lastly—and very subjectively—the song and the stagework on the Ice Spice collaboration lacks cohesion. (Not saying they couldn’t work, but this doesn’t.)

…like?

Frame in PinkPanteress, Ice Spice - Boy’s a liar Pt. 2 (Official Video).
(YouTube)

I hesitate getting into the motivations of Swift (or Minaj) because pushing back against the many think-pieces defending Swift’s status as an innocent white woman doing “enough” would take another few hundred words. Instead, it’s worth drawing attention to the people around Ice Spice drawing up these contracts and arranging these collaborations. Instead of leaning into the image, style, and sound Ice Spice wants to play with, these remixes—not even regular singles—feel cheap and are definitely poorly timed. Witnessing Ice Spice appear in two collabs with women currently criticized for sticking up for bad men is frustrating.

I’m struggling to put this all on Ice Spice, who is just 23 years old. Throughout nearly her entire childhood, Swift and Minaj stayed on the charts and relevant. Before accounting for studio pressure, it probably feels validating to have these high-profile female artists want to work with you. Especially Minaj, since that collab came out of Ice Spice expressing adoration for performing on a stage Minaj recently exited. Ice Spice is a grown woman navigating an extremely exploitative industry—something both Minaj and Swift are well aware of and have spoken up against in their own careers.

Ice Spice has become a sort of shield for Swift and Minaj fans, something to latch onto to justify their continued defense. My sensitivity and concern doesn’t only pertain to Ice Spice. There have been a number of high-profile men in music who attempt to rehabilitate their image by working with green, solo artists of the moment. Ice Spice just feels like the latest high-profile example, and the most hypocritical, considering the women involved.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org.

(featured image: Shareif Ziyadat, Getty Images / Taylor Swift / Dolo Entertainment, Inc. / illustration by Alyssa Shotwell)


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Author
Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.