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Jeff Nelson
August 31, 2015 05:30 PM

Bad blood or the best-played joke of the night?

Nicki Minaj had some choice words for Miley Cyrus at the VMAs, but it may have all been in good fun.

“Nicki was joking,” a source close to the rapper tells PEOPLE. “You could see her laughing toward the end.”

The latest assumed celebrity feud came to light Sunday night when Minaj, 32, took the stage to accept her best hip-hop video hardware for “Anaconda.”

After thanking her pastor, the rapper threw things back to host Cyrus – or, as Minaj called her, “this bitch that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press” – sneering, “Miley, what’s good?”

The rumored beef all stemmed from a recent interview Cyrus, 22, did with the New York Times. The “Wrecking Ball” singer was asked about the Twitter feud between Minaj and Taylor Swift over Minaj’s video of the year snub.

Regarding the social media spat, Cyrus said Minaj was “not too kind. It’s not very polite. I think there’s a way you speak to people with openness and love.”

Neither Minaj nor Cyrus has commented on the reported tiff – directly, at least. Minaj did retweet an article by The Atlantic entitled “Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus and the VMAs: A Tone-Policing Palooza.”

While the Minaj source maintains the exchange was all a joke, a network source says it was “a very real thing,” adding it “caught everyone by surprise” and left MTV staffers’ “jaws dropped.”

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