It's been a bumpy road when it's come to Nicki Minaj's new album, but she really didn't disappoint with it. Back with viciousness and an impressive bit, Nicki Minaj takes her place is hip-hop's villain in QUEEN, a challenging record that's out for blood.
What's immediately clear with QUEEN is that Minaj is afraid to play the villain here. One song after the other, she absolutely digs into those who have played with her or used her in the past, or simply people she just doesn't agree with. The core of this attitude is single 'Chun-Li,' which establishes her mean girl attitude. It's 'Barbie Dreams' that really goes in, though, Minaj going after pretty much every notable name in hip-hop - even collaborators on the album. Notable disses include album collaborator Eminem ("Em', cop the Barbie Dreamhouse then you can play the part / I ain't tryna bust it open in the trailer park"), Drake ("Drake worth a hundred milli, always buying me shit / But I don't know if the pussy wet or if he crying and shit"), and DJ Khaled ("Had to cancel DJ Khaled, boy, we ain't speaking / Ain't no fat nigga telling me what he ain't eating"). She even goes after some smaller artists, hilariously destroying Desiigner ("I remember when I used to have a crush on Special Ed / Shoutout Desiigner, 'cause he made it out of special ed") and going off on 6ix9ine ("Tekashi want a ménage, I said "tre-way" / Curved him and went the Kim and Kanye way") and Lil Uzi Vert ("Man, Uzi is my baby, he ain't takin' a L / But he took it literally when I said, 'Go to hell!'"). No one is safe from this new side of Minaj.
Minaj rarely let's vulnerability through in QUEEN. There's only one song that sees a more intimate, more vulnerable side of her: 'Come See About Me,' a softer pop ballad that hopes for a past lover to just check up on her once in awhile. Opening track 'Ganga Burns' also has a bit of emotionally honesty in there, hidden under the dynamic beat and interesting structure. Other than that, Nicki Minaj is rolling with confidence and swagger. Eminem and Labrinth back her savagery in 'Majesty,' Eminem going off like a rocket with incredibly fast bars. Chill atmospheres, like single 'Bed' with Ariana Grande, still make sure to knows she's the dominant figure here, even The Weeknd left to only be a supporting role in 'Thought I Knew You.' Some tracks in the center do seem to lose a bit of bite and just come off as a dud, like 'Run & Hide' and the annoying 'Chun Swae' with Swae Lee. The middle of the record does become a bit of a gauntlet, but by the end Minaj has found her bite once again and takes the record out with energy on 'Coco Chanel' with Foxy Brown.
Nicki Minaj takes her place as hip-hop's villain in QUEEN, roasting her competition endlessly while upping her authority all at once. It's not a perfect record and it really doesn't have the same punch all the way through, but it starts and ends powerfully.
Favorite Tracks: Barbie Dreams, Ganja Burns, Majesty
Least Favorite Track: Chun Swae
Rating: 73 / 100
Stream or buy QUEEN on Apple Music, and follow our 2018 Playlist on Spotify: