Since joining up with Lil’ Wayne’s omnipresent Young Money contingent in 2009, the much heralded Nicki Minaj has been an exercise in mild inconsistency. For every lyrically scorching showcase (Y.M.’s “Roger That” displayed the usually Technicolor Nicki getting down to serious MC business with sneering, brazenly cocky lines like, “White girls tell me ‘Hey Nicki, your camp rules!/Is that why you get more head than shampoos?’”) there’s the deflating and at times annoying performance (Has there ever been a bigger first single disappointment in hip-hop than the silly, disjointed toss-off “Massive Attack?”)
But to be truthful, Nicki has more pressing responsibilities than her male hip-hop counterparts. Not only is she given the task of single-handedly taking the female hip-hop game off of life support, she has to keep the Young Money commercial streak of Lil Wayne and Drake alive while selling a shit load of albums. But if her debut album, due out this fall, contains any of the brilliant, fearless hallmarks of her remarkable guest spot on Kanye West’s “Monster” there is reason for optimism. Point blank: Nicki Minaj may have just given the most bold and ambitious rhyme performance of the year by a male or female. Here’s a break down.—Keith Murphy
Nicki Isn’t Afraid To Take Chances…Win Or Fail
The knock on Nicki Minaj has been that her over-the-top animated delivery has at times obscured the fact that she is capable of being a pretty clever MC. Early followers of her hip-hop career point to her impressive 2007-2009 mixtape run which included Playtime Is Over, Sucka Free and Beam Me Up Scotty as well as her star-making appearance on Weezy’s own underground salvo Dedication 2. Some critics have wondered aloud just what happened to the New York Queens chick who delivered straight-no-chaser bars without the cartoon-tinged hyperbole?
Which is why Nicki’s verse on “Monster” is so jarring. The woman gives perhaps her most over-the-top, she-should-be-on-her-meds verbal exhibition to date. But this time, she comes off sounding like a hungry, ambitious artist who smells blood. Nicki does what Rick Ross, Kanye, and Jay-Z didn’t have the artistic stomach to do on this sparse, ominous track: leave it all in the booth. We haven’t heard such sincere Jekyll & Hyde-like insanity since Biggie got away with it on 1994’s menacing “Gimmie The Loot.” “So let me get this straight, wait I’m the rookie/But my features and my shows ten times your pay/50k for a verse no album out!/Yeah my money’s so tall that my Barbies gotta climb it.” Lil’ Kim is somewhere frowning her Botox-injected face.