It’s been four years. Now, Nicki Minaj returns with her fourth studio album, Queen. Collaborating with big names such as Eminem, The Weeknd, Swae Lee, Future, Foxy Brown, Ariana Grande and Lil Wayne, Minaj once again blends and bends rap, reggae, R&B and hip-hop stylings into a 19-track effort that’s earned “Explicit” warnings for every song.
On “Come See About Me,” Minaj tries to convince an ex that she’s not the same woman she once was: “Want you to see how much I changed/Oh, I just hope I’m not too late/I know you’re hesitant about it but/I got a lot I wanna say to you.” And in “2 Lit 2 Late,” she also tells a guy (perhaps the same one) that he’s too late to win her back.
On songs such as “Run & Hide” and “Thought I Knew You,” Minaj openly confesses her difficulty trusting men who have betrayed her. In the former, she tells a guy, “You gon’ have to prove it/’Cause it’s been a minute since I trusted somebody.” She continues by saying, “I pray to God for peace and love, I’m lookin’ at you as a blessing.”
Nicki says she’s not easily swayed by just any guy on “LLC” (“To you he’s rich and famous, but he’s just a guy to me”). And she makes commitment a prerequisite for having children on “Chun-Li” (“Ain’t pushin’ out his babies ‘til he buy the rock”).
“Ganja Burns” lists some of Nicki’s personal disciplines in preparing for this latest album “I done fasted and prayed, had to cleanse my body/Abstaining from sex, had to zen my body/I ain’t giving so don’t ask, I don’t lend my body.” Meanwhile, “Inspirations” chronicles all the people Nicki has looked to for inspiration throughout her career.
Though Nicki Minaj stands up to some guys who’ve treated her poorly, almost every song here still describes some kind of sex act, including “LLC,” “Chun Swae,” “Majesty,” “Coco Chanel,” “Miami,” “Sir,” “Good Form,” “Bed,” “Rick Sex,” “Barbie Dreams” and “Nip Tuck.” In “Sir,” she says, “Ride him like a sled, Dasher, Prancer.” The vast majority of these lyrics are simply too racy to relay here.
Nearly every song also displays exaggerated arrogance, letting all the haters know that Minaj is still “the queen.” She brags continually about her cars, money, clothes, homes and other material possessions. In “LLC,” she says, “Tryna make a new Nicki factory/They’ll never toe to toe on a track with me/There’ll never be another one after me/‘Cause the skill levels still half of me.” And on “Hard White” she profanely repurposes an iconic line from Snow White: “Mirror, mirror, who’s the fairest?/(You the mother—ing fairest, Nicki”).
But the material “stuff” here isn’t just cars and clothes, it’s drugs too. Multiple references to marijuana, Xanax, Percocet, Adderall, cocaine and other drugs appear on songs such as “Coco Chanel,” “Miami,” “Sir,” “Good Form,” “Ganja Burns,” “LLC,” “Chun-Li” and “Majesty.” In “Miami,” Minaj sings, “Got the low-low on them Percs/Low-low on them Xannies/ … Don’t forget the Addies.”
Bravado mingles with violent threats on “Chun Swae” and “Ganja Burns.” And harsh profanity fills every track here as well, as already noted above.
In an interview with Beats 1, Nicki Minaj said that she took a brief break from her social media outlets while making this album and that it was the best thing she could have done for herself—learning how to disconnect for the sake of her mental health and peace of spirit.
But that doesn’t mean others have disconnected. In fact, I’m sure plenty of people are connected and are listening avidly—including many young listeners. And that’s a problem, because they’re getting an earful (and an eyeful, given the album’s barely clothed image of Minaj, which we’ve cropped for this review) of just about every kind of problematic lyrical content you can imagine.
When you combine this album’s constant stream of vulgarity, sexually explicit lyrics and drug references, it’s enough to leave discerning listeners feeling royally exhausted.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).