Nicki Minaj performing Chun Li at this year’s BET Awards. Picture: Reuters
Nicki Minaj performing Chun Li at this year’s BET Awards. Picture: Reuters

Is Nicki’s reign as the Queen of Rap over?

By Jamal Grootboom Time of article published Jul 16, 2018

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What is going on with Nicki Minaj? This is a question many of her fans have been asking. 

And by fans, I’m not referring to her psychotic Barbz - Minaj’s super fans - who think everything she does is genius. I’m talking about the people who enjoy Minaj’s music, but are still able to look at her work critically.

Since the "Roman Reloaded" rapper took a hiatus in December last year, until she dropped "Chun Li" and "Barbie Thingz" in early April, the overall roll-out schedule for her upcoming album Queen has been a mess. 

Minaj got positive reviews for her two new singles, but she only dropped the music videos a month later. And in the meantime, these songs tumbled down the charts, with "Chun Li" currently sitting at 82 on the Billboard Hot 100 and "Barbie Thingz" nowhere to found.

Two things that have us scratching our heads are, firstly, the strange way her single/features are being rolled out and, secondly, the lacklustre lyrics. In truth, the questionable lyrics have been a problem since last year. Minaj had many features last year and, for the most part, they were trash. 

The only good verses she produced were on Swish Swish with Katy Perry and Motorsport with the Migos and Cardi B.

The decline in the quality of her lyrics can be traced back to her very public split from Safaree Samuels in 2014. He has many credits on all Minaj’s albums and was her hype man on stage. Now, before the Barbz get all up in their feelings, no, I don’t think Samuels was Nicki’s ghostwriter. 

Minaj professed at the 2014 BET awards that, “If Nicki Minaj spits it, Nicki Minaj wrote it”. But it does appear that Minaj bounced a lot of lyrics off Samuels. And would then change things accordingly. Samuels’ rap style and use of metaphors in his freestyling seems to echo that of Minaj.

Their break-up was the point when it became apparent that something was off. Minaj kept her momentum going, but now it seems that her 10-year reign as the Queen of Rap is coming to an end.

Hastening her demise is the meteoric rise of "Bodak Yellow: rapper Cardi B, who is breaking records left, right and centre. She recently garnered her second number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with "I Like It" - something that, for all her plaudits, Minaj has not managed to achieve. And it seems Minaj doesn’t know how to beat this upstart as it’s been a long time since she’s had any competition

Which explains why Minaj finally put her pen down on Motorsport and not only gave us a fire verse but switched up her flow five times. Very few rappers are able to do this and it was a reminder that Minaj is still ahead of the pack.

Critics will point to a lack of growth with regards to lyrical content. For the past 10 years, most of her verses have centred on sex and her iconic status as the queen of rap.

Minaj’s behaviour online has also been antagonistic, with the rapper attacking random users for the slightest critique. 

One such unlucky person was freelance writer Wanna Thompson, who tweeted that since Minaj is approaching forty, that it would be nice to have some mature content from her.

“You know how dope it would be if Nicki put out mature content? Just reflecting on past relationships, being a boss, hardships etc. She’s touching 40 soon, a new direction is needed,” wrote Thompson.

Minaj then jumped into Thompson’s DMs, calling her a “hating a*****e” and adding that Thompson was just jealous because she’s rich, famous and pretty.

Can you image if Beyonce Giselle Knowles hyphen Carter were to jump into people’s DMs because they just wanted to see more growth in her music? Never, because Queen Bey speaks through her music and is secure with her place in the music industry.

Minaj’s insecurity seems to be at the core of her erratic career moves. It appears that now that her kingdom is under threat, she is scrambling to figure out where she fits in. Perhaps she got too comfortable at the top and was caught napping. Either way, lazy verses, performances and lyrics just won’t cut it anymore.

In the words of Rowan Pope from Scandal: “If you have to tell me how powerful you are, you ain’t got nothing Real power is silent, real power is hidden, real power was there all along. Real power cannot be gained and can never be lost. It’s not a commodity. It is who you are”.

Let’s all hope the Queen of Rap can pull herself towards herself before Queen drops in August, because the only person who can stop Nicki Minaj from disappearing is Nicki Minaj.

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