Nicki Minaj — pop princess, Beyoncé pal and booty popper — won’t let little things like human rights violations put her in a corner — or keep her from getting a check.
On Saturday, the rapper performed in Angola at a holiday concert organized by the cellphone company Unitel. This is news because Unitel is owned in larger part by billionaire Isabel dos Santos, who also happens to be the daughter of José Eduardo dos Santos, Angola’s president-cough-dictator.
Before she danced her way into an embarrassing publicity misstep the Human Rights Foundation lobbied Minaj, who was reportedly paid $2 million for the concert, to cancel her appearance.
“Nicki Minaj is a global artist,” Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation, said in a statement last week. “There is no good reason for her to do business with the corrupt Angolan dictatorship and endorse the ruler’s family company.” In a subsequent letter to Minaj’s management team, Halvorssen detailed the regime’s abuses, which include the imprisonment of local rapper and outspoken dos Santos critic Luaty Beirao.
Minaj responded by hopping on a G4 (that’s a private luxury jet) and heading to Luanda, the capital of Angola. She also posted a picture of herself all decked out in a bedazzled sheer body suit with dos Santos, whom she tagged on Instagram as “the 8th richest woman in the world. (At least that’s what I was told by someone b4 we took this photo) Lol.”
Minaj went on to praise dos Santos’s success, which critics attribute to corruption and her father’s decades-long regime: “GIRL POWER!!!!! This motivates me soooooooooo much!!!! S/O to any woman on a paper chase. Get your own!!!! Success is yours for the taking!!!!! #Angola thank u to the women who brought me out here as well.”
Other celebrities — Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Dennis Rodman — have been caught up in negative headlines for performing for and paling around with dictators. The crisis management formula involves ignoring the backlash or issuing a heartfelt apology along with a hefty refund check. No word on which road Minaj will choose when she returns to the States on that G4.