August 10, 2018 8:50 pm
God save the “Queen” — Nicki Minaj’s new album is here.
Minaj appeared on Apple Music’s Beats 1 to roll out her fourth studio album track-by track on Friday morning, with the album dropping at noon.
“I’m not only exhausted and delusional, but I get to be live with you guys and go over my album,” she joked on-air, saying she pulled an all-nighter to prep for her album release.
More: Nicki Minaj ruthlessly blasts Drake, other male rappers in ‘Barbie Dreams’ lyrics
The tracklist includes previous singles “Chun-Li,” “Bed” and “Rich Sex” and a stacked guest list of features from artists including Ariana Grande, Future, Lil Wayne, Eminem, Foxy Brown, The Weeknd and Swae Lee.
Her first studio album since 2014’s “The Pinkprint,” “Queen” marks a major return for the rapper. See how each song stacks up in our track-by-track guide below.
1. ‘Ganja Burns’
What a perfect summer hit this could’ve been for Minaj. This song deserves to have soundtracked every sweaty dance floor this season, its island vibes as mellow as its title suggests, save for this perfect Instagram-caption-ready drag of a verse: “You made one dope beat, now you Kanye? / You got a (expletive) named Jay, now you ‘Yonce? / You got about three stacks, now you Andre? / You put a part in your fade, oh you Nas, bae?”
2. ‘Majesty’ (feat. Eminem and Labrinth)
“Majesty” isn’t necessarily a band song, but its jauntily folksy chorus and confounding Eminem verse raise more questions than answers — mainly, why does this sound like Twenty One Pilots? Premiering the song on Beats 1, Minaj told listeners that Eminem’s verse would “go down in history as one of the best verses in the history of rap,” making the classic mistake of conflating rapping that is fast with rapping that is good. Unfortunately, for Nicki and for everyone listening, Eminem’s rapid-fire verse is more Karmin than Busta Rhymes.
3. ‘Barbie Dreams’
Remember a few years ago, when Kendrick Lamar released “Control” and innocently dissed a bunch of his rap peers, and the Internet went nuts? Do Nicki Minaj the same courtesy, and go appropriately insane over “Barbie Dreams,” a song that you don’t even have to make it halfway into to know that it will define her new album’s legacy. Minaj may have gone on hiatus, but she’s clearly been taking notes on her male hip-hop counterparts. She flips The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Dreams” beat and unloads the greatest run of insults we’ve heard this decade. Put “Barbie Dreams” in a time capsule for its perfect encapsulation of every dumb hip-hop drama we were talking about in 2018. Just put it in the Smithsonian.
4. ‘Rich Sex’ (feat. Lil Wayne)
“Rich Sex” wasn’t a particularly memorable single and is even more forgettable on a tracklist next to “Barbie Dreams.” Just listen to any number of the Nicki/Wayne songs that already exist instead.
5. ‘Hard White’
“Had I accepted the pickle juice, I would be drinking pickle juice right now,” Minaj once famously said about demanding respect for her work. She’s in that same mode on “Hard White,” as she boasts about jetsetting to Paris in luxury while reminding listeners how she got there. “I used to work hard just to get half back,” she says on the chorus. “Now I’m getting to it that way / I ain’t coming through unless the bag straight.”
6. ‘Bed’ (feat. Ariana Grande)
“Bed” sees Minaj and Grande in their respective pop seductress modes, and considering how often the two artists collaborate, they have their roles down pat — Grande, the innocent lamb, and Minaj, the assertive lion. “I got a bed with your name on it,” Grande coos as Minaj runs through come-ons about thousand-dollar sheets and men’s sweatpants, making for another “Queen” single that doesn’t quite rank among the album’s best tracks.
7. ‘Thought I Knew You’ (feat. The Weeknd)
It’s an unfortunate fact that every rapper’s Weeknd collaboration sounds just about the same, considering you can’t get Abel Tesfaye to articulate a happy thought or sing anything that’s not a minor key melody over chilly synths. “Thought I Knew You” is no different, as Minaj and Tesfaye trade moody vocals over a trap beat that gives the song some semblance of a pulse.
8. ‘Run & Hide’
Minaj is similarly in her feelings on the softer-sung “Run & Hide” — proof that she and her former pal Drake suffer from the same kinds of famous-person trust issues, as heard on the song’s chorus: “’Cause it’s been a minute since I trusted somebody / ‘Cause I don’t ever put my trust in nobody / I hate to picture you out (expletive) somebody / So I don’t ever put my trust in nobody.”
9. ‘Chun Swae’ (feat. Swae Lee)
This song definitely didn’t need to be six minutes long, but there’s something hypnotic about producer Metro Boomin’s plinking beat, sounding like a deranged music box with Swae Lee’s boy-choir falsetto and Minaj’s baby-voiced rapping. Just press skip before the song reaches its lengthy and unnecessary outro.
The highest-performing advance single from “Queen,” “Chun-Li” may not go down as Minaj’s most iconic single, but it’s nowhere near an unwelcome inclusion on the album.
From Beyonce preaching the importance of equity on “Apes**t” to Nicki Minaj making us all Google what LLC means, 2018 is a year of pop queens preaching fiscal responsibility. “LLC” is a banger with a message — ditch your wealthy male benefactor and make your money work for you — and “I just took her name and made the (expletive) a LLC” is one of the best choruses of the album.
12. ‘Good Form’
“Good Form” is peak Nicki bravado — chest puffing and explicit — and a fitting counterpart to “LLC,” as a pair of tracks with the stinging lyricisms and bratty flows at which Minaj excels.
13. ‘Nip Tuck’
“Snip, snip, hit the nip tuck on you,” Minaj raps about a man she’s trying to cut from her life on a filler track that maybe should’ve been cut from the album.
14. ‘2 Lit 2 Late Interlude’
Minaj joins the long list of rap and R&B artists guilty of inexplicably taking one of their album’s best-sounding tracks, cutting it in half and making it an interlude. “2 Lit Too Late” has a top-three pop melody of “Queen,” a perfect title and an earworm chorus, and none of it matters, because the song is 55 seconds long. She’s just trolling us at this point.
15. ‘Come See About Me’
This is Nicki at her most sentimental, ranking among the highlights of “Queen” with a track that’s as evocative as The Supremes song that shares its name, but considerably more emo.
16. ‘Sir (feat. Future)’
The all-star team of Minaj, Future and producer Metro Boomin may still not be enough to turn “Sir” into a hit. Minaj and Future are touring together later this month, and while it’ll be convenient for them to have a new track to perform together, considering all the hits in their respective discographies, “Sir” will just seem like an onstage waste of time.
Minaj sneaks Patti LaBelle and “Mean Girls” references into her anthem for the 305, a song that’s still not quite as colorful as the city that serves as its subject. Stuck towards the end of the album’s tracklist, “Miami” just feels excessive at this point.
18. ‘Coco Chanel’ (feat. Foxy Brown)
Minaj and Foxy Brown did not come to play on “Coco Chanel,” alternately slipping into Spanish and patois as they deliver nearly four minutes of ominous threats, a show of strength united by the two artists’ Caribbean roots and outer-borough New York upbringings. Listeners’ interest may be flagging this far into the 19-track album, particularly after a run of less-than-noteworthy songs, but this powerhouse collaboration helps redeem the second half of “Queen” and sends the album to its close on a higher note.
19. ‘Inspirations Outro’
An extension of “Coco Chanel” that borrows the previous song’s beat, Minaj says farewell to “Queen” by honoring her heritage, shouting out a list of reggae and dancehall greats before “marchin’ with Lauryn Hill to Zion” with a nod to the R&B legend.Tags: Entertainment
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This post was written by All Charts News