Warning: Nicki Minaj has a lot of feelings.
We’ve seen Nicki Minaj come out in wigs of every color, we’ve heard her lyrics about how she owns the rap game and that she’s on top and unbeatable. She’s a character who almost crossed into cartoonish territory. On December 15th, she left all of that for tame melodies and more singing than we’ve ever seen from her. That being said, she does not sacrifice her lyricism for mainstream beats. This time around the lyrics are toned down in terms of speed, Minaj seems to focus on crafting her story rather than fitting as many words into one breath.
Her intentions are more than becoming the most powerful woman or rapping circles around the newest softened rapper to be churned out by the latest industry machine. She says in her first track “All Things Go”: “Life is a movie, but there will never be a sequel/ And I’m good with that, as long as I’m peaceful/ As long as 7 years from now, I’m taking my daughter to preschool”
Her promotional drip release of songs from the album including “Anaconda” which racked up YouTube view records out the wazoo, “Only” an amazing track featuring the amazing team up with Drake and Lil Wayne, also proved she could hold her own. These had caught the attention of the listeners but did not prepare for what was to come. The exhaustion she’s faced from going through a very rocky and rollercoaster-like personal life is apparent and Minaj really lets the window open during the first four tracks. She begins to lay everything on the line during “All Things Go”, “I Lied” and “The Crying Game” beginning with the most vulnerable and also the first three tracks. She begins to pull herself back together with “Get On Your Knees” feat. Ariana Grande, coming back with lyrics lifting herself up.
“Feeling Myself” feat. Beyonce. After their collaboration on the “***Flawless (Remix)”, another collab was greatly welcomed and did not disappoint. The production seemingly simple with Beyonce taking over the chorus and Minaj rapping her usual game including punches toward inferior women and her luxuries. This is the Nicki Minaj we have come to know and just because she has gone through rough patches in her personal life doesn’t mean that she’s lost any of her spirit. Sure, she has fallen quite a bit, but she’s risen just as well and shows towards the middle of the album.
These were some of the tracks that fell short. “Pill N Potions”, a sort of take on a ballad for Minaj, hit the radio earlier this year but unfortunately lacks passion of any kind. “Trini Dem Girls” is undeniably dance inducing, but this track comes out of left field in the middle of the album. It doesn’t fit, it also doesn’t make much sense.
In the end, this album is far from perfect but exactly what Nicki Minaj needed. This album rounds her out as a person and recognizes her as a relatable figure who goes through every day events like everyone else. It’s not so stellar tracks weigh down the album a bit, but the important part is that she was able to make an album on her own time, in her own way.
By Yalda Etemadi