Some of us did a double take when television host and chief legal correspondent for MSNBC Ari Melber looked straight into the camera and casually quoted Nicki Minaj as if it were normal academic canon without a second thought.
Of course Nicki is an icon, but hearing her lyrics used in the context of a complex legal debating seemed somewhat out-of-place and hilarious.
The New York Times was “essentially channelling” Nicki Minaj’s classic song “No Frauds”, Melber said matter-of-factly, when publishing articles about the complete lack of evidence of voter fraud during the US election (despite President Trump's insistence). With a straight face, he said on Tuesday, “[Minaj] made it quite plain, ‘I don’t need no frauds, don’t need no drama, don’t need no lies.’”
Social media users, of course, loved but were also surprised by the reference. One person wrote “Why this man on MSNBC just quote nicki Minaj" with plenty of laughing emojis. Melber retweeted it and commented simply, “why not?”. Others joked this was proof that most people are "Barbs" (the nickname for Minaj's fanbase).
Others were less surprised with this seemingly out-of-the-blue reference to the ‘Queen of Rap’. One person commented: “That's @AriMelber. He's a hip hop head and a national treasure.”
After some quick research, it turns out this type of invocation of rap lyrics is nothing out of the ordinary for Melber, who is not only a lawyer, but a huge hip hop fan.
“I love the regular delight and surprise of people on Twitter who are just discovering the guy who named his political show @TheBeatWithAri has an infinite supply of rap lyrics to drop while he's spinning his lawyerly insights,” one person wrote on Twitter.
It turns out, Melber is known for weaving hip-hop culture into his reporting and often quotes lyrics from rappers on his political show, 'The Beat with Ari Melber.'
In an interview from 2018, the lawyer described why he cites songs and popular culture into his reporting. "I got a question about the probable cause standard for a search warrant – boring, we’re already bored,” Melber said, giving an example. "So to explain it clearly in the boundaries of a short TV interview, I invoked Jay-Z’s ‘99 Problems".
To Melber, it’s clear what Nicki Minaj has to say is just as politically relevant as anyone else – and we’re here for it.