It‘s been four years since Nicki Minaj‘s last solo album and in that time she‘s collaborated on what feels like every second song to hit the airways. She‘s also been outspoken about feminism and empowerment in the era of #MeToo.
I had hoped Queen would be a culmination of all that. I thought she‘d say something that mattered.
But somehow, despite having 19 lyrically-dense tracks, she‘s managed to say nothing.
With the exception of a few personal tracks about relationships and heartbreak, Nicki spends the better part of an hour bragging about what a great rapper she is, how beautiful, rich and stylish she is, and, of course, sex.
That always has been and always will be part of hip-hop culture and had the album been cut in half it wouldn‘t be so overwhelming, but 19 tracks about how great someone is wears thin, fast – especially when the tracks aren‘t actually that great at all.
The production is at some points incredibly strong but for the most part, it‘s mediocre.
The tracks with Nicki‘s native Trinidadian influences are obvious standouts, like Ganga
Burn, Bed (featuring Ariana Grande), Coco Chanel (featuring the faultless Foxy Brown) and the Inspirations Outro.
The nod to Biggie on the standout diss track Barbie Dreams elevates the album to a new level, and when she does get personal – like on Nip Tuck, I Thought I Knew You (featuring The Weeknd), Run and Hide and Come See About Me – there‘s a refreshing change of lyrical pace.
There are good songs here, they‘re just buried in a haystack of autotune, trap beats and repetitive swagger.
Had she cut it down to a few personal tracks, a couple of those hard-hitting bangers – a la Hard White or LLC – and bookended it all with dancehall hits, it could‘ve been a better album.
Nicki Minaj is ridiculously talented, a prolific writer and is one of the best rappers in the game – male or female. But after a four-year wait since a disappointing previous release, I needed more.
Nicki Minaj, Queen
Artist: Nicki Minaj
Label: Young Money / Cash Money
Verdict: A potentially great album that got buried by itself.