The long-awaited Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj collabo has finally happened. And the two music queens deliver all the quotables, bravado and gossip fodder you’ve been craving. But does “Flawless (Remix)” live up to its name?
1. First things first, how have Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj not worked together before this? The same Beyoncé who’s recorded with Rah Digga, Devin The Dude and Amil; and the same Nicki Minaj who has a song with The Lonely Island in her discography. It’s about damn time.
2. Blue Ivy’s mom is starting to find her comfort zone on these bars. Wouldn’t mind hearing more ’Yonce rapping in sparse portions.
3. That one line that everyone is talking about, the one about the whole elevator thing. You know Jay whispered that into Bey’s ear, for her to say. It has Shawn Carter written all over it. #relationshipgoals
4. Soo, within the first 30 seconds, Beyoncé says the
word acronym THOT. And as you read this, a Time thinkpiece is undoubtedly being written whitesplaining the origin, definition and sociological context of the term. That’s all. Moving right along…
5. Five years after Hov’s “D.O.A.,” Auto-Tune lives!
6. Hearing Nicki and Beyoncé boast about how flawless they indeed are is pretty awesome, because it’s true. But it’s a bit predictable, no? The real coup would’ve been an original rant from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie—the Nigerian writer whose words dropped a feminism bomb on the album version—talking about how these basic, street lit authors ain’t on her level. Something like that.
7. The conceit level here is on a trilli. “You can say what you want, I’m the shit,” coos Mrs. Carter. But wait. Didn’t y’all immediately teleport Keri Hilson right out the paint when she dropped her own humble-by-comparison single “Pretty Girl Rock” back in 2010? (Refresher lyric: “Don’t hate me ’cause I’m beautiful”). This is some tasty Chamomile tea, though.
8. Whoever decided to revive Sly Stone’s “Rock Dirge” sample—memorably lifted for OutKast’s “SpottieOttieDopaliscious”—is a smart, soulful cat. Is that you Hit-Boy?!
9. As for the closing rap verse, I’d rather hear Nicki rhyme on the “Bow Down” portion of “Flawless.” It’s bubbly and raucous, just like she is. These strings are better fit for the introspective Nicki Minaj.
10. The most awkward single second in recent recording history comes after Nicki says “Like MJ’s doctor, they killin’ me.” So uncomfortable.
11. Nicki Minaj’s slowed-down flow holds up the momentum on this monster collaboration, mostly because she’s not saying much that we haven’t already heard. Animation is Nicki’s strongest asset (beside, of course, the one behind her). And here, with the spotlight on her words, Barbie’s barbs have less punch than usual, a fact perhaps made more glaring by Remy Ma’s impressive “They Don’t Love You No More” remix, which dropped just hours before Bey and Nicki’s first-ever collaboration.
12. But still, Nicki finds a pocket once she speeds up her rhymes. And that closing line—“This that, Yeah-nigga-eat-the-cookie face”—is the perfect counter to Jay’s “Eat the cake, Anna Mae” reference on “Drunk In Love.” Well played, Onika.
13. Anyone else notice Nicki’s Notorious B.I.G. grunts on here? Betcha Lil’ Kim did. [Update: Told you so!]
14. At times “Flawless (Remix)” comes off a bit too ambitious. All the vocal manipulation and beat tweaks and shifting flows and paces. Beyminaj has way too much talent to need all the musical theatrics piled on. Doing a bit too much.
15. All that said, it’s a dope statement/event record. It’s an epic moment—sort of like Kendrick Lamar’s verse on Big Sean’s “Control”—but is it an epic song? Not so sure. (Beygency, leave me be!) —John Kennedy