Nicki Minaj took to Instagram to share that the music video for her song “Likkle Miss Remix” featuring dancehall artist Skeng has been age-restricted on YouTube. While that would definitely upset most artists, Minaj claims that the age-restriction is a plot to prevent her from raking in views.
Nicki Minaj is not one to shy away from sexually explicit lyrics and representations of sensuality in her music and visuals. But shortly after the release of the music video for her song “Likkle Miss Remix,” Minaj found that the video had been age-restricted on YouTube. The rapper subsequently voiced her discontent over the matter with two separate posts on Instagram, both of which contain a screenshot of the email Minaj received from YouTube. While the grounds for this restriction would make any artist frustrated, Minaj claims that the move was an intentional one by YouTube and her label Republic Records to sabotage the video from receiving views.
“Imagine this. They restricted my fucking video but have things a million fucking times worse on their BOGUS FKNG PLATFORM,” Minaj wrote in the first of two posts. “This was done to stop us from getting a lot of views in the first 24 hours. The DUDS at my label allow ppl to use my videos all the time to promote weak shit but said we can’t buy promo for my videos,” she continued in the second.
After publishing this story, YouTube did get back to Gizmodo’s request for comment, telling us that they have since “removed the age-restriction after determining the video didn’t violate our Community Guidelines.”
It’s not immediately clear what specifically about the video generated the age-restriction in the first place. We asked YouTube for a follow-up on that and we’ll let you know what we hear back. But reading YouTube’s guidelines on age-restricted content points to two potential culprits. YouTube says that “A video that invites sexual activity, such as provocative dancing or fondling,” which is definitely present in “Likkle Miss Remix” could result in restriction. While that might be the case, it’s worth noting that Minaj’s other videos that feature “provocative dancing” like the recent “Super Freaky Girl” and record-breaking “Anaconda” have no age-restrictions. YouTube also points to “harmful or dangerous activities, including regulated substances and drugs,” as grounds for restriction, and Skeng can be seen smoking what appears to be marijuana towards the end of the video. Republic Records did not immediately return Gizmodo’s request for comment.
Republic Records is owned by Universal Music Group, more commonly known as UMG. UMG does, in fact, have a relationship with YouTube—UMG reportedly rules over YouTube content with an iron first. YouTube is known to have a strict copyright policy, in which record labels can flag content that features copyrighted music and some of these flags even come directly from UMG. While Minaj’s accusation has nothing to do with UMG’s copyright presence on YouTube, she is correct in stating that YouTube and UMG (and subsequently Republic Records) have a relationship.
Updated 9/26/2022 at 5:49 p.m. ET: Added a comment from YouTube explaining that they have since removed the age-restriction.