Review: Nicki Minaj Readies ‘Queen’ With Help from Lil Wayne and Ariana Grande

Copy of THE TOP 30 SONGS OF 2018

Nicki Minaj’s highly anticipated fourth studio album is closer than ever. After a four-year hiatus, Nicki plans to reclaim her throne on August 10 with Queen. To begin the album rollout, Nicki dropped her latest top ten hit “Chun-Li” and the hard-hitting “Barbie Tingz,” which we reviewed here. More recently, Nicki debuted her latest Lil Wayne collaboration, the middling “Rich Sex,” and her latest official Queen single, “Bed (feat. Ariana Grande).”

So far, Nicki has revealed three tracks on Queen; those three tracks include the aforementioned three songs. Sadly, “Barbie Tingz” is inexcusably absent from the present track listing. “Rich Sex” is the most urban radio-leaning song of the three, Nicki raps about, well, rich sex. More specifically, she preaches that she will only put out for men that she deems deserving (one clear prerequisite: wealth) and implores other women to do the same. On this brooding track, produced by Big Juice and J. Reid, Nicki makes it clear that she knows her worth: “Don’t let homie fuck unless his bands up.” Lil Wayne, on his first official verse since the news broke of his settlement with Birdman, packs the punchlines that we all know and love and follows Nicki’s lead in a more subdued role. Perhaps the most interesting part of the song is that last line, “Next stop: New York.” This last line seems to set up a different sonic section of Queen; with Queen being track 4, this is entirely plausible. Overall, the production is tight but lyrically the song feels phoned-in; it’s definitely not the type of track one would think appears on a “classic” album, but who knows?

The Ariana Grande-featuring “Bed” is definitely the more commercial song out of the two. Ariana uses her sultry, lower register on the hook and lets her signature belts loose on the final chorus. This marks Ariana and Nicki’s fourth collaboration, and they have a fifth coming next week with “The Light Is Coming,” the first promotional single for Ariana’s fourth album, Sweetener. The production on “Bed” is a smooth combination of ’10’s R&B and pop with hints of dancehall. Ariana and Nicki have an inimitable chemistry and even though the song is quite derivative, lyrically, their respective vocal performances more than make up for it. The song is fun and easy to listen to, so much so that even Nicki’s corniest punchlines have an endearing quality.

All in all, with “Chun-Li,” “Rich Sex,” and “Bed,” it is starting to look like Nicki has finally found the perfect way to fit all the different shades of her musicality and artistry into one cohesive album, and it is exciting to see.

Rich Sex: 60

Bed: 56

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