Amidst the seemingly never-ending feud with Lil’ Kim, war with Remy Ma and a brewing rivalry with Cardi B, Nicki Minaj steps back into the forefront with her fourth studio album Queen (Young Money/Cash Money Records). It’s clear she isn’t playing any games on the opening track “Ganja Burns” spitting, “Unlike a lot of these hoes, whether wack or lit / at least I can say I wrote every rap I spit.” Nicki is making a clear distinction that she’s a true lyricist, point blank period.
Produced by J. Reid, “Ganja Burns” is a smooth, braggadocios introduction to the album, with Nicki singing on the hook and riding the beat effortlessly. “Majesty” follows up featuring Eminem and Labrinth. Em quite easily steals the show with his delivery and rapid-fire multi-syllable rhyming. The chorus isn’t anything special, but when the beat changes for Nicki to spit her verses, you can’t help but nod your head as she attacks the beat.
Nicki flexes all over the album showing off her ability to switch up her flow, delivery and vocal range without missing a step.
In addition to Eminem, features on Queen include Future, Lil Wayne, The Weeknd, Foxy Brown and Ariana Grande. Some are great collabs, but a couple of them don’t really add much to the track. For example, normally a song with Wayne and Minaj is a banger, but “Rich Sex” could have gone without the sloppy verse from Wayne, wasting the hard beat cooked up by J. Reid and Aubry “Big Juice” Delaine. The aptly named “Chun Swae” featuring Swae Lee is decent, but gets lost in the shuffle when other features like Future on “Sir”, Foxy Brown on “Coco Chanel” and The Weeknd on “Thought I Knew You” are head and shoulders above it.
Nicki flexes all over the album showing off her ability to switch up her flow, delivery and vocal range without missing a step. Lyrically, Minaj has her ups and downs though, sometimes teetering into the realms of corny punchlines, but anyone that’s followed her career knows this isn’t anything new. The beats she’s rhyming over on Queen make it easier to overlook.
For Nicki’s core fans, Queen provides everything they could ever ask for and more. For her naysayers, it’s a clear indication that she isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.