It would be an understatement to say that 2018 has been a tough year for Nicki Minaj.The threatening rise of Cardi B in her previously single handed rap scene domination, the childish clapbacks that led to firing of Toronto culture writer Wanna Thompson over criticism, the slut shaming comments made in Elle, the multiple album pushbacks from June 15th to August 10, the lackluster response to “Chun-Li” and “Barbie Tingz”, her singles failing to gain traction, the collaboration with an alleged pedophile 6ix9ine in a desperate attempt to reach number 1 on Billboard, altogether created a haze of uncertainty about the sonic landscape that Queen would sit in and what the album itself would look like. Would Queen be the album that solidified Nicki place as the self proclaimed queen of rap? Yeah, nah.
Queen is a bloated album of 19 songs that fail to inspire and bluster. Even with assistance from stars like the Weeknd on “Thought I Knew You”, Lil Wayne on “Rich Sex”, Eminem on “Majesty”, Ariana Grande on “Bed” and Swae Lee on “Chun Swae”, the album lacks cohesion and feels bloated – like 19 tracks put together to increase streaming numbers.There are some highlights – Nicki Minaj’s flow on “Chun Li” is undeniably powerful and club ready, and “Barbie Dreams” where Nicki delivers punchy disses to her contemporaries like Safaree, Young Thug, and Drake over a Lil Kim and Biggie influenced tracks. However, the lows are not just substandard, they are forgettable – with Nicki insisting on the same tired pop-rap singing on “Come See About Me”, and songs like “Nip Tuck” sound like Minaj herself was bored making making it. Nicki still has her punchy flow, her ear for beats, and braggadocious self-confidence, but on Queen these qualities cannot account for the shallowness of the tracks. There is no definitive voice – merely self aggrandising statements that sound hollow, with no strong moments that solidify her as the queen of rap.
No one can take Nicki’s previous achievements away from her, for example her status as the highest selling female rapper, but Queen leaves the impression that Nicki Minaj is the queen of the past but maybe not the future.