MUSIC REVIEW: NICKI MINAJ REMINDS US WHY SHE WEARS THE CROWN WITH ‘QUEEN’!

“Trying to make a new Nicki with a factory / They’ll never toe to toe on a track with me.”

From the track, “LLC,” the above lyrics encapsulate what Nicki Minaj‘s new album, her first in four years, Queen, is all about. It is about reminding all of us who wears the crown and about how blood, sweat and tears catapulted Minaj to the top, unlike many who have come after her.

On “Ganja Burns,” Minaj reinforces that notion of authenticity and the fact that there is no substitute for hard work. “You gotta have real skill, gotta work for that / If it’s really passion, would you give your world for that?” She adds, “Unlike a lot of these ho’s, whether wack or lit / At least I can say I wrote every rap I spit.”

The 35-year-old rapper also pays tribute to some of the original MCs like Jay Z and The Notorious B.I.G., scolding young up and comers for thinking they are on the same level as the seasoned heavy-hitters. The idea of paying respect to those who have come before and grinding hard towards achieving one’s goals seems important for Minaj to convey.

NICKI MINAJ QUEEN

To that end, Cardi B, who appears to be nipping furiously at the hip-hop queen’s heels with Invasion of Privacy, is called out by Minaj on multiple occasions. On “Hard White,” she spits, “I ain’t ever have to strip to get the pole position,” a clear reference to the Bronx rapper’s past as a stripper (which she is not ashamed of).

And while the music industry continues to evolve at a steady clip, Minaj wants us all to know that she is here to stay on “Queen,” where we are reminded of her #1 status repeatedly, almost as if she thinks we have forgotten. And perhaps Minaj can be forgiven for being defensive now that she has to share the main stage with the likes of Cardi B, a present threat that she never really had to contend with in her prime.

Minaj mixes it up on Queen, throwing in sweeping dancehall grooves and infectious electronic beats on “Coco Chanel” and “Nip Tuck,” designed to make you move, before easing sweetly into tracks like “Come See About Me.”

A track that didn’t make it onto the album, is Minaj’s duet with Nas, “Sorry.” A Tracy Chapman sample prevented its inclusion, but the song saw the light of day on Saturday.

All things considered, Queen is a triumph for Minaj, reminding us of her flat-out lyrical skills and cementing her place as one of, if not the greatest female MC of her generation.

LISTEN TO: “BARBIE DREAMS”

PHOTO: MERT & MARCUS/ CASH MONEY

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