Music Review

Twitter rants aside, Nicki Minaj does a great job returning to her old rap style

Nicki Minaj's hard-rapping self returns for an extended set

26 August 2018 - 00:03

Dealing with mediocrity can be frustrating, especially when everyone sings your praises but those mediocre folks keep having a seemingly easier time achieving certain things than you do.
One imagines that this is the type of thing that would send your late night Twitter fingers into frenzy, so it is not surprising that Nicki Minaj had a LOT to say when her latest album, Queen, debuted at, horror, number two on the Billboard charts last week.
In the lead-up to her album and the time since its release, Minaj has been tweeting more furiously than Donald Trump on a sugar rush.
She has gone at everyone from her ex-boyfriend Safaree Samuels (who she exposed for buying a fake hairline, among other things) to rapper Travis Scott, his girlfriend Kylie Jenner and their six-month-old baby, Stormi. She has even gone so far as to compare herself to Harriet Tubman.
Those of a more cynical bent will probably see this as some kind of misguided attempt at garnering attention for her album. The problem is that, for the first time in a while, this album is good enough for her not to need it.
When she first appeared in the mainstream hip-hop universe a decade ago, everyone was surprised that a girl could rap that well (insert eye roll emoji here) and large sections of her fan base hoped she would continue in that hard-rapping vein. Unfortunately for those fans, she chose the wiser option, going for a more pop-oriented style rather than ending up as a (relatively) poor but critically acclaimed emcee.
With Queen she returns to her more badass lyrical style. On tracks like LLC and Good Form she shows that there may be only 10 active mainstream rappers who can switch flows and string bars together better than she can. On Barbie Dreams she has a bit of lyrical fun at the expense of a few male rappers, and Majesty, with Eminem, is an exercise in swag.
WATCH | Nicki Minaj - Ganja Burn

Throughout the album Minaj displays an aggression that is fun to listen to and the result is a pretty good album.
The problem, however, is length. If you are listening to it from start to finish then somewhere around track nine (Chun Swae featuring Swae Lee) you will find yourself sighing as you realise that there are still another 10 tracks to go.
The fact that Queen is a solid album is ultimately overshadowed by the fact that Minaj has lost her mind and needs someone who cares about her to confiscate whatever she is tweeting from...

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