The Pink Print, That’s The Real Queen Album
Nicki Minaj’s Pink Print proved to be one truly stellar album, from the awards to the number of albums sold – she shifted the industry on its axis. The album debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 with 244,000 album units sold in its first week, of which 198,000 were pure sales. More than just a female rapper, she’s a trendsetter and record breaker. In 2018, Onika became the first female rapper ever to sell at least five million copies of each of her albums, which includes Pink Friday, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded – The Re-Up and of course, The Pink Print. The Pink Print solidified Nicki as an artist not just a rapper. She even created a mini-film to accompany the album – that’s epic. She’s an undeniable MC, no doubt, and this album boasted with hits like “The Crying Game,” featuring Jessie Ware, “Only” featuring Drake, Lil Wayne and Chris Brown and “Feeling Myself” featuring the one and only Beyoncé. When an artist organically creates music, tells their narrative and incubates in their creative process, the music hearkens as such. Nicki, at the time of this album’s release in 2014, hit what I’ve deemed as the “Drake” faze of her career. The “Drake” faze is that untouchable moment in your music career where everything you touch literally turns to gold, hence the fact that we know that every song Drake features on turns into a top charting record – you get the point. Everyone knew her name and everyone adored her music but she didn’t have any real competition. Remy Ma was still incarcerated, Lil Kim wasn’t releasing music, Trina took a break etc. thus she was really only competing with herself. Her only task at hand was to out-do her previous works which she did with the Pink Print, however, if we roll into present day, four years later, she releases the Queen album. Queen laced in 19 tracks amid features from Lil Wayne, The Weeknd and Foxy Brown, to name a few is a valiant effort but falls shy of my expectations. Overall, sonically speaking it is a solid body of work but not an impressive one in my opinion. Rappers lose that “It” factor when they start “trying” to be rappers. The grit she possessed in The Pink Print with records like “Four Door Aventador” where she raps, “I'm in the V like a widow's peak / It's just me and my Rolls Royce pillow seats / Why they staring at me? I brung MacLaren with me /Yo, matter of fact, I think I'ma bring Donna Karan with me.” She loves a good name-drop. Her wordplay gets even crazier as she goes on to rap, “And you my son, I don't know, it's just the parent in me / I am the best, I am the queen, it's so apparent it me.” Her witty pen game thus transcended her into the revered artist she is today but her gifted bars set an expectation that we expected her to fulfill.
The Queen Album Didn’t Gift Nicki the Royal Status She Hoped For
The “Barbs” would state that Nicki has never and will never fall off but the introduction of this latest Queen album into her bodies of work proves that even the best artist’s have an off-kilter project. There’s an abundance of pressure on Nicki to consistently release nothing but hits. This album, however, fell short of the slew of hits that her previous works included. Of course, I loved her “Barbie Dreams” rendition but that nostalgic Biggie Smalls “Dreams” instrumental gifted that record the likability it possessed but she bodied the beat for sure. She raps, “I'm looking for a n**** to give some babies /A hand full of Weezy’s, a sprinkle of Dave East / Man, I ain't got no type, like Jxmmi and Swae Lee.” The fun she had with this record although apparent set the tone for what one would think the rest of the album might include – hit records. However, she threw in lack luster filler-records like “Run & Hide,” “Nip Tuck” and “Come See About Me.” The battle between pop-singer Nicki and rap Nicki is a feud where she wins on both sides, but one comes off more organic than the other. While the pop side might come off as just a request per popular demand for increased sales, the hip-hop side remains innate and inevitably undeniable. Nicki’s genre versatility made her the household name we know her as today but also might confuse fans as she sifts from hard-core MC to pop sensation – Queen had some hits like “Good Form” and “Rich Sex” but after four years of waiting it’s just not the album to re-solidify her spot in hip-hop. Furthermore, Queen is not the viable watermark Minaj was likely eager to set. Selling about 185,000 copies in its first week, it couldn’t earn Nicki the number 1 album that she had hoped for but indeed that goes to Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD and she didn’t even come close to Cardi B’s first week Invasion of Privacy sales which totaled 255,000 copies. Queen is not a terrible album, by far, but for me it dearth’s substance, lacks lyrical depth but not lyrical wittiness and song composition wise I am not absolutely loving it. It's not an album of empowerment or narrative dripping musical tales. Nicki Minaj is an ikon, no doubt about it, but this album just doesn't showcase her years put it.
Competition Breeds True Music Industry Aficionados
Now Nicki she rests next to competitors like Remy Ma, Megan thee Stallion, Cardi B and more – healthy competition. Nicki needs competition because that is how true champions thrive. Nicki Minaj brims with years of experience, success, worldwide appeal, impeccable talent and a slew of accolades. She thrives in an arena all her own, or one filled with male counterparts but struggles to hold her own against other women just as internationally successful. Furthermore, her petty banter and snarky comments rather that be towards Cardi or Travis Scott or Remy Ma etc. doesn’t paint her as a female in hip-hip that’s continuing to elevate but a female in hip-hop spreading a bit more shade than rainbows. That shade resonates like pride instead of heart. Nicki put her heart into The Pink Print but put her pride into the Queen album – heart trumps pride. Hopefully the follow up to the Queen album put her in the same hungry, hit record doused arena that her earlier works have. Her latest effort “Megatron” gives me optimism towards this upcoming project. My advice, I know spreading love is the Brooklyn way but let’s make it the Queens way as well.