No one is safe on Nicki Minaj’s fourth studio album “Queen”. She’s returned to a rap landscape that’s shifted in the last four years since her previous album, and she’s been particularly fixated on the rap game. Premiering “Queen” on Apple’s streaming radio station, she said it used to be that “it felt like you had to be smart to rap. And now, it’s a little bit different.” Minaj is ruthless with a few of her targets, claiming her ex Meek Mill “still be in my DMs,” while Young Thug is “stealin’ dresses” from her backstage quarters. This 19 track album quickly cements Minaj as the reigning Queen of hip hop, when lately all we’ve heard about is Cardi B, but after listening to “Queen” you’ll soon be saying Cardi who?
With her previous albums like “Pink Friday” and “The Pinkprint” we were served up a mix of rap, traditional ballads and pop embodied singles, like we heard on the songs “Save Me” (my personal favourite) and “Grand Piano”. On “Queen” though Minaj sticks to what she knows best, a rap-heavy full-length project, that gives us the true definition of hip hop. She’s gathered up some of the most powerful people in urban music to help her create a project of finesse; making an appearance are the likes of Eminem, Labrinth and she even brings home some old school flavor with Foxy Brown. “Queen” has received a huge amount of positive reviews with The Independent writing that “Queen” is “the most important album of Minaj’s career so far. It’s the first time in her career that she has faced real opposition, and this latest record suggests that competition brings out the best in her. It may lack cohesion at certain points, but one thing is never in doubt: Minaj is still one of the best in her field.”
“Chun-Li” was released as the lead single for the album, and released the music video for “Chun-Li” on her YouTube and Vevo account with it peaking at number 10 on the Billboard charts. On June 14th Minaj released her pop inspired singled called “Bed” which featured Ariana Grande, it debuted and peaked at number 43 on the Billboard charts. These singles among the others have one thing in common, and that’s their ability to show off Minaj’s incredible rap flow. When it reaches it’s equilibrium, vowels pitching and rolling in her Queens accent, but always kept in alignment, there are few who can match her.
Clearly missing from this album are the candy coated pop influences from her first releases, and as hugely of a fan I was of it, catering to her older fans is somehow more validating, and the greatest moments on “Queen” come from her being apart of hip hop royalty. She’s broken Aretha Franklin’s record for the most US chart hits by a female solo artist earlier this year; and clearly there’s no slowing down her supremacy. Minaj is more than a decade into her career and continues to master her craft with each song that she puts out. She can easily outwit all of her adversaries in the rap game at this point. If the “Crown” fits, she’ll keep wearing it.
Rating: 4 / 5
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