Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Nicki Minaj is no stranger to controversy, and doesn’t exactly have a reputation for holding her tongue when she has a problem (we at Go are still asking “Miley, what’s good?“) but at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, Minaj took the subtle route to throw her sharpest shade yet.

This week she’s been coming for everyone with a mic and a social media account, but you may have missed the sharpest barb of all. While MTV isn’t too big on celebrating its own history – and Logic聽having already had an overt tribute earlier at the VMAs with his Eminem-reinterpretation in his performance –聽 Nicki’s reference flew under the radar of most.

Nicki’s medley of tracks from her new album Queen – performed at the PATH World Trade Center station on the other side of Manhattan – was attended by an invite-only audience of her fans. While it kept the energy high, a closer eye will recognize the artistic motif is a direct reference to Lil Kim‘s landmark 1997 VMA performance of “Not Tonight.”

While that moment was a celebration for all women in hip-hop, featuring Kim joined in a show of solidarity with Missy Elliot, Left Eye of TLC, Da Brat and Angie Martinez – Nicki’s performance featured no other MCs. It seems to us like Nicki – who would not be doing a Kim tribute these days as it is – deliberate reworked the infamous imagery to reinforce her “Chun Li” self-professed status as “the only chick in the game.”

What do you think? Subtle shade or coincidence?

 

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