Photo Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Top selling female rap artist, Nicki Minaj, released her fourth studio album titled Queen early August, and if you have been a Nicki Minaj fan since her mixtape era, then you will be excited to know, She’s focused man. Minaj’s unique heavy bar spitting sound is back! This nineteen-tracked album conveys Minaj’s creative and animated sound and word play, along with her vocal abilities that are infused with her Caribbean influenced culture. This adventurous and creatively free album also includes features from The Weeknd, Ariana Grande, Future, Lil Wayne, Swae Lee, Eminem, and the 90’s Brooklyn Don Diva herself, Ms. Foxy Brown. Minaj also collaborated with some of the industry’s top producers like Mike Will Made It, Boi-1da, Supa Dups, J. Reid, and more, making this one of the best albums in her catalogue.
Prior to releasing Queen, Minaj released two singles in early April (letting her fans know she was working on new music since her last album ‘The Pinkprint’ released in 2014) titled “Barbie Tingz” and “Chun-Li”. “Barbie Tingz” can be found as a bonus track for the album, however “Chun-Li” became the album’s lead single peaking at number ten on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number six on Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart. Minaj then released “Bed” featuring Ariana Grande and “Barbie Dreams” which did not see as much success as “Chun-Li”, but both made certified Gold.
The album opens up with a reggae-inspired vocal pop song titled “Ganja Burn” which set the mood for pop and R&B, making it an unusual opener for a typical rap album. She then switched it up with the second song off of the album titled, “Majesty” featuring eccentric vocal skills from British singer and producer Labrinth, and a memorable rap feature from Eminem, the rap God himself. Minaj then added some humor to the album with the third track titled “Barbie Dreams” that samples another New York rapper, the late great Notorious B.I.G’s 1994 hit song “Just Playing (Dreams)”. Minaj added her twist and perspective on “Barbie Dreams”, as she sexually jokes on male artists in the industry, while B.I.G’s version rapped about his sexual desires for the leading ladies at the time. Although a lot of Minaj’s jokes sounded a little hurtful, she stated that it was all love and not to be taken seriously.
The album continues with a consistent flow of hip hop, reggae, pop, and R&B infused top charting beats accompanied by her lyrical hard hitting raps. Mid way through the album, Minaj even states “You’re in the middle of Queen right now, thinkin’ / I see why she called this sh*t Queen / This b*tch is really the f*cking Queen,” and my response to that is, yes, Nicki. How did you know?
Nicki Minaj did receive quite a bit of backlash regarding this album. According to many bloggers, there is a thin line between confidently displaying your maximum rap rhyme skill potential, and rhyming out of desperation for attention, and Minaj seemed to have crossed it. As if you do not have to spend so much time and energy convincing everyone you are the queen, you kind of just are. Queen overall did sound as if Minaj was on a mission to have something to prove, but regardless Minaj has already solidified her position in her rap career. Although, that does not mean there can only be room for one Queen in the industry.