Like many online critics, I found Nicki Minaj’s newly released, fourth studio album, Queen, extremely underwhelming just like the rest of her discography.
I’ll admit that during the course of Queen‘s rollout, I was very skeptical about the album being able to surpass the quality of DreamDoll’s debut EP, Life in Plastic. Although I thought Nicki’s performance on “Chun-Li” was alright, the album’s next set of singles caused me to become worried about the caliber of her new set. I thought that both “Barbie Tingz” and “Bed” were underwhelming and generic. They’re terrible songs and don’t sound any different from what I had heard from Nicki before. I did like “Rich Sex” with Lil Wayne a little better, but only because I didn’t have to listen to just her on the track.
When The Pinkprint came out in 2014, I remember being unimpressed with the lyrical content of the album, and felt it was a major advancement from the Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded era, which I found to be gross. With The Pinkprint, Nicki never stepped up her game or displayed her lyrical abilities, employing more bubblegum pop rap music. But after the close of The Pinkprint era, Nicki took the longest break between records than she had ever taken in her career. For once, I was content with the world. During that 4 year period, several female rappers entered the hip-hop arena and Onika couldn’t take the competition. Then, in 2017, the general public was introduced to Cardi B. Instantly, Cardi became the hottest female rapper in the game and broke history as the first female rapper to achieve 2 number one songs. Nicki has been all up and down Billboard but still doesn’t have a number one after 10 years in the industry.
Despite Nicki Minaj’s accolades and decade long curse on female rap, Cardi B keeps rising. She’d end up being the one female rapper who would reach the success to end Nicki’s ten year tenure as hip-hop’s reigning queen. In the beginning, Cardi seemed to release hit after hit with “Bartier Cardi,” and “Be Careful,” but her potential was finalized when her debut album, Invasion of Privacy, went #1 on the Billboard 200, selling 255,000 copies in its first week. Cardi’s album release was preceded by a #1 hit, two Top 20 hits, and four Top 10 rap features. Those were achievements that gave the album ample promotion and public interest, which ultimately led to the strong sales debut, which was unexpected. That being said, Queen was dead on arrival. Flatline.
Upon the first listen of Queen, I was able to certify that it is the most unorganized album that Nicki has forced on the public; far succeeding the disaster that was The Pinkprint, which I had originally predicted to be the sad peak of her catalog. On Queen, Nicki returns more desperate than she ever has before, with lyrical abilities that eclipse the material on all of the Kidz Bop albums combined. In addition, the album confirms that she is indeed a more versatile rapper than her biggest competition at this point, Stefflon Don. But that’s not saying much. Cardi’s album is actually successful, cohesive, strong and a great listen from beginning to end, but Queen displays flows that sound off beat and psychopathic. It will have you thinking, “Is this a demonic ritual or a pop album?”
The flow switches are one of the album’s scariest characteristics. On tracks like “Hard White,” “Chun Swae” featuring Swae Lee, and “LLC,” Nicki will go from rapping in a violent energy to rapping with the voice of a pill addict and then transcending to lisping, all on the same song. Towards the end of the album’s 4th track, “Barbie Dreams,” listeners even get a visit from Nicki’s long-lost alter ego, Roman Zolanski, who is named after notorious rapist and film director, Roman Polanski.
Another interesting failure on Queen is the experimentation that Nicki employed through the use of less mainstream producers. The change caused the album to sound as though it was mixed in an outhouse with a dollar menu budget. For the first time, Nicki has made an album that has a darker sound to it, but mostly because you can hear doors slamming in the background due to the cheap engineering that was done. The drop in value allows listeners to have an easier experience relating to the music, as it finally feels like Nicki lives a middle-class life, possibly recording her music in a closet. On tracks like, “Majesty” featuring Eminem and Labrinth, “Sir” featuring Future, and “Coco Chanel” featuring Foxy Brown, Nicki sounds like she’s yelling in anger through a toilet paper roll. She raps with a powerful seriousness that lets listeners know that she means business, and funny business that is.
But Queen isn’t just an album comprised of hip-hop material, Nicki again displays her versatility with drug-pop songs like “Ganja Burns,” or “Miami,” which is about coke. Nicki also returns to her love for trying to sing, providing choppy, raspy, and computerized vocals on the somber, yet delectable tracks such as, “Thought I Knew You” featuring The Weeknd, or “Come Slowly On Me.”
Hands down, Queen is the worst album of Nicki Minaj’s unimpressive rap career. Her talent for making a joke of lyricism, versatility, and creativity is exactly the reason why myself and many others should remember to not even attempt listening to her music. Sadly, the confusion surrounding the album is due to Young Money Entertainment and Cash Money Records letting Nicki think she was that girl. We know it won’t sell more than her other embarrassing works, but it is safe to say that Queen is the most overrated female rap album released in the past few years, but most definitely the worst Nicki Minaj record in her career thus far.
Try again Nicki.
Nicki Minaj’s Queen: 3/10
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