Yeah, we know what you're thinking. We can sense the side-eyed glances and impending witticisms through out computer monitors. However, Nicki Minaj can rap--when she wants to, of course. It might not be apparent now, but the Jamaica, Queens product can still go toe-to-toe with the best of them when she's not bedazzling herself in rhinestones and glitter. Here are 10 songs that prove she has pen game, Ellen DeGeneres Show be damned.
For about 15 seconds, Nicki had this track in the bag. On a debut album full of bottom-of-the-barrel Hip-Hop phlegm, she channeled a double-time flow to throttle this track into the schizoid stratosphere. She definitely “had the power to be the best B in the league,” but then the bottom fell out and “Blazin’” ended up here.
2. “Bottoms Up”
Remember back in 2010 when your girl would lose her wedges when Trey Songz’ “Bottoms Up” came on at the club? Well that could’ve been because of Trey, but it was also probably because Nicki spoke for all bar-going ladies when her verse bounded out the speakers. Another example of Nicki harnassing her signature coo, she spoke for your lady when she spit, “I was like, ‘yo Trey,’ do you think you can buy me a bottle of Rosé,” with the flow and wit to match.
3. “I Don’t Give A…”
Beware already highlighted Nicki’s presence on this Madonna track, but it can’t be overstated enough. “I Don’t Give A” released in 2012, well past rap fans’ general denunciation of the new, post-Pink Friday Nicki. However, the feisty Roman reappeared in Beam Me Up Scotty fashion, churning through bars on her areas of expertise (flashy cars and designer wares) in her menacing West Indian patois.
4. “Make Me Proud”
Although Take Care was Drake’s show, he brought along his YMCMB wifey to help propel the album’s middle section past its melancholy, spaced-out beginning. Disregard Nicki’s hashtag rap at 2:12 and focus on her invigorated first verse where she, unfortunately, “ain’t got time to talk, just ‘hi’ and ‘bye.’” At least her old self showed up in the first place.
5. “Up All Night”
Even in monotone, Nicki can still craft a listenable verse, as evidenced by her spot on Drake’s “Up All Night.” Letting the menacing beat provide the ambiance, Minaj keeps her various personalities in check and coolly rips off, “which bitch you know made a million off a mixtape? That was just a keepsake.” Some times the calm is the storm.
6. “Beam Me Up Scotty”
It’s not Nas on “Halftime,” but Nicki’s rhymes on “Beam Me Up Scotty” shine for entirely different reasons. She takes a bouncing beat and does an around-the-Caribbean name check, shouting out the various nationalities with lyrical panache. “Beam Me Up Scotty” is like a track off M.I.A.’s Arular if the Sri Lankan Brit had any guttural swag. And it’ll make you hungry for curry chicken, rice and peas.
7. “Slumber Party”
When you can out-ratchet Gucci Mane on a Gucci Mane track, consider your contribution a success. Nicki dropped multiple cheeky clitorial metaphors, shining new light on “super soakers” and “Coca-Cola.” Listeners will never look at the two products the same ever again.
8. “Dreams '07”
The first track off her debut 2007 mixtape, Nicki rocked the boom-bap beat while ingenuously going through her list of MCs whom she’d allow to get with her. It’s akin to 50 Cent’s “How to Rob,” but without all the messy details of a proper jacking. Consider this song the original Nicki archetype that rap fans wish would’ve lasted.
Lately, Nicki’s been as strong as the sum of her song’s parts. “Champion” included Nas, Young Jeezy and Drake, prompting Barbie to drop the Roman gimmick for five minutes. Maybe it’s the theatrical backdrop or Nas’ introspective appearance, but Nicki spills some personal details that give her bars weight. Wish we could say the same about the other 18 tracks off Roman Reloaded.
Ninety-nine percent of the time the Good Nicki-Bad Nicki shtick grates on listeners of all sexes. However, Ms. Minaj channeled the perfect bit of schizophrenia on her landmark 2010 verse from Kanye West’s ode to ghouls, goblins and identity disorders. The Queens MC went toe-to-toe with heavyweights like Jay-Z, West and Rick Ross, and set the standard for up-and-coming rappers’ braggadocio, boldly proclaiming, “50k for a verse, no album out!”