Published Aug 14, 2018It's been four years since Nicki Minaj released The Pinkprint, and in that time, she has gone through several revisions of that initial draft. Public disputes and relationships have been revealed to the world, but with her new album Queen, Minaj has set her sights on coming back for the throne.
Much like the Barbz, the collective name for her superfans, Minaj's latest album is set on attacking anything in its way — although, she doesn't always land the punch. The 18-song album covers an array of Nicki styles — pop-rap, bar-for-bar rap and even moments reminiscent of her early mixtapes, but when she strays left, Queen loses some of its royal jewels.
Paying homage to both Biggie and Lil Kim, Minaj re-imagines "Dreams" into her modern-day little black book, while closing the doors on a decade-old feud with Kim. Similarly, Minaj enlists Foxy Brown, whom she often refers to as the only rapper she competes with, for the the street-heavy "Coco Chanel." In these moments, Minaj has rightful claims to the rap throne, but they fall into the abyss with repeated concepts and themes.
When she's not rapping about stealing men, being the top player in rap or the jealousy of other women, Minaj explores her sensitive side with the help of Ariana Grande ("Bed"), the Weeknd ("I Think I Knew You") and "Come See About Me," which strictly showcases her singing. Despite that, Minaj's ability to be a chameleon on Queen proves to be helpful in switching from an uptempo single like the infectiously seductive dance track "Ganja Burns" to a gritty, multi-voice, multi-cadence anthem like "Good Form."
Whether Nicki Minaj is the rightful queen of rap is up for debate, but the album, despite having several songs that were more filler than functional ("Sir," "Majesty," "Chun Swae"), highlights her ability to adapt to an ever-changing sonic landscape. For that reason, we'll keep talking about Nicki Minaj much like how Canada still has Queen Elizabeth II on its currency — they both have the skillsets to do the jobs that they have, and neither of them are going anywhere anytime soon. (Universal/Cash Money/Young Money)