Review: Nicki Minaj – Queen

So…… never thought I was going to touch upon this album, right? Well, here we are. Let’s get down to business as usual.

Most of you already know who Nicki Minaj is. She’s one of the biggest and most prominent mainstream female rappers to come out of the early 2010s, especially repping the relevant yet irrelevant label Young Money alongside Drake, Lil’ Wayne and…….um……yeah, that’s it. This is her 4th studio album release, with this following The Pinkprint back in 2014.

Ok, my opinions on Nicki Minaj are…..well, I don’t have much. I have liked a couple of her songs here and there, and some songs where she’s a guest feature. When it comes to the visual style in her videos, it’s very appealing, but I have never shown much interest in her albums. I did hear her first album, but that was years ago. Now with this recent album (19 tracks, clocking in at an hour), hearing some of the singles like “Chun-Li” and “Bed” haven’t given me much hope for it, and now with the final product (Oh and “Barbie Tingz” did not make it in the final tracklist), I can say that….wow, I’m not going to make any new friends with this.

The album dragged, and what is an hour of music felt like double that as most tracks felt like the same thing repeated over and over again. Content-wise, you’re pretty much getting the same things from Nicki: relationship stuff, her status as a female rapper in a male-dominated game, clapping back on haters and being annoyed by her competition, especially one that had money moves throughout 2017. It’s nothing new from her last albums as she goes on about being the queen of rap but then when she gets to tracks that feel relatable, or at least attempt to be, it doesn’t gel that well in the album’s flow.

You’ll get the usual sounding tracks, from the straight-up hip hop tracks to her pop-driven tracks, and even some Caribbean dancehall-sounding cuts in there. While Nicki is always known for doing those type of tracks, they just flew in and out sonically.

The opening song “Ganja Burns” is a bland dancehall track that instantly wears off its vibe the whole way. Honestly, “Barbie Dreams” has an interesting thing going for it as the beat is sampled from Notorious B.I.G’s “Just Playing (Dreams),” and while that song talked about popular R&B singers back then, Minaj inverts it with a slew of male hip-hop/R&B artists, including Drake and her ex Meek Mill. She did cite that it is not a diss track as most publications tried to paint it like that (although it was easy to see it like that), and in “CoCo Chanel,” she meshes well rapping with Foxy Brown as Minaj cited her as an influence on her coming up. Those are the only songs I either remotely like or found decent.

The rest? As I said before, most of these songs flew in and out of my ear, and the rest is just forgettable content that Nicki spouts out. No matter how good she raps, it’s never captivating. That is definitely true of the singles released such as “Rich Sex”, “Chun-Li,” & “Bed.” In the latter two, she goes on about how she’s depicted as the bad guy in media (mostly during her beefs with Remy Ma and Lil’ Kim among others), although in some cases, it might be true. Also, we said it before on Decibel Boost, but “Chun-Li is the good guy!!!” Even basic folks who don’t play Street Fighter know who she is. Meanwhile, “Bed” sounds like a throwaway from Ariana Grande’s next album, and there’s even a track on Ariana’s next album that sounds like it would be on this one, but now’s not the time to discuss this.

And since I brought up features before, the majority of them ranged from okay to blah to bad, from Eminem reminding me why I thought Revival was bad on “Majesty” (Labrinth was okay) to Lil’ Wayne and Future being….well, Lil’ Wayne and Future on “Rich Sex” and “Sir” respectively (I find them as boring as ever). I dug the Weeknd on “Thought I Knew You,” but his feature and the production were the only good things about it. As for “Chun Swae,” Swae Lee and maybe the production were also the only decent things on there, but it’s not saying much.

Oh, and one more thing: the production is sloppy and mediocre, never leaving a lasting impression. When the album ended, I never felt like going back to either of these tracks, and considering there’s people like Mike Will Made It, Metro Boomin, Murda Beatz, Zaytoven, etc. on here who are known for making crazy beats, these feel flaccid and unsatisfying.

In fact, I got nothing else to say on this.
I get what Nicki was trying to do on Queen, and I could say I appreciate the effort, but I didn’t sense any here. Most of the tracks feel like filler, and the subject matter is the same leftovers as her previous albums. Yet there’s no sense of growth or maturation on here, and the overall project is dull, just plain old dull. I know her hardcore fanbase aka The Barbs (yes, they are called that!) will love it no matter what, but yeah, I’m not with this.

FINAL VERDICT: Skip It. This album should be knocked down its throne.

QUEEN is available on CD, streaming and digital download on Young Money Entertainment/Cash Money Records through Republic Reocrds

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