Queen (Nicki Minaj album)
It is Minaj's first album in nearly four years, following The Pinkprint (2014).
The rapper started recording the album throughout 2017 and 2018, she collaborated with a handful of producers and songwriters to reach her desired sound.
The album's release date was delayed before ultimately being released a week ahead of schedule.
To further promote the album's release, Minaj launched her own radio show, titled Queen Radio, which aired on Beats 1, made several television appearances and live performances, and began The Nicki Wrld Tour in February 2019.
Queen received generally favourable reviews from music critics who praised the production, though many criticised the album's length, lyrical content, lack of direction and cohesiveness.
It charted within the top ten in major music markets, such as Australia, Canada, Netherlands, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
The album was certified platinum by the RIAA in January 2019.
Background and development
Following the release of her third studio album The Pinkprint in 2014 and the end of The Pinkprint Tour in August 2015, Minaj went into Hot 97's Ebro in the Morning in October 2016, where she was asked for details about her upcoming album, responding, "The album is so freaking epic, but it's a journey right.
Before my first album came out, I was on everybody's song; I had my own campaign without realizing it.
Right now, I have to complete a few things for other people."
During following interviews Minaj claimed her fourth studio album would be her "best body of work", "a classic hip-hop album that people will never forget," and an era "a billion times more epic than anything 'Anaconda' could have delivered."
In October 2017, Minaj opened up for T Magazine about her vision for the album.
"Sonically, I know what the album's about to sound like," she said, "I know what this album is gonna mean to my fans.
This album is everything in my life coming full circle.
[...] Now, I can tell you guys what happened for the last two years of my life.
I know who I am.
I am getting Nicki Minaj figured out with this album and I'm loving her."
Music and lyrics
While The Notorious B.I.G. rapped about his sexual desire for popular R&B singers, Minaj roasts male artists, including Drake, ex-boyfriend Meek Mill, Eminem, DJ Khaled, 50 Cent, Young Thug, Swae Lee, Lil Uzi Vert, Fetty Wap, Quavo, Desiigner, Future, and YG.
Minaj clarified that the track only targets individuals she loves, and claimed it is not actually a diss track.
In "Thought I Knew You", The Weeknd, a featured artist on the track, contribute to the lament over estranged lovers with Weeknd's "buttery tenor serving as the perfect counterpoint to [Minaj's] clipped, Auto-Tuned raps and distorted vocals."
Brendan Klinkenberg of Rolling Stone opines that Lee steals the spotlight on this track with his "delicate falsetto" with Minaj "deploying clearly demarcated, darting verses."
Minaj named their song "Chun Swae" after her collaborator.
At the end of this track, Minaj boasts to her listeners "You're in the middle of Queen right now, thinking/I see why she called this shit Queen/This bitch is really the fucking queen—ahh!"
before bursting into a maniacal laugh.
The album's lead single, Chun-Li follows immediately.
"Sir", featuring Future, was one of two tracks added after the other 17 songs in the album.
Variety described "Come See About Me" as "a soft, sculpted ballad that allows Minaj's rap-singing romanticism to nestle in a richly opulent setting."
Foxy Brown is featured in the track "Coco Chanel".
Andree Gee from Uproxx asserted that their collaboration in the "swaggering" track remained "true to both rapper's Trini roots, with dancehall inspired drums fused over ominous keys."
The song continues into the closing track "Inspirations Outro".
Artwork and packaging
Release and promotion
On May 7, 2018, during an interview at the Met Gala, Minaj announced the album's title and original release date, which was then delayed.
It was initially scheduled for a June 15 release, but was later pushed back to August 10, and then to August 17, before ultimately being released a week ahead of schedule.
To accompany the album's release, Minaj launched her own radio show titled Queen Radio, which aired on Beats 1.
The radio show started August 9, 2018 and the most recent show aired on February 10, 2020.
The show featured celebrity guest appearances by Alicia Keys, Winnie Harlow, Kim Kardashian, Kelly Rowland, Swae Lee, Little Mix, Lil Wayne, Nene Leakes, Normani, Kandi Burruss, Lauren London, Kehlani, Tyga, Trina, Asian Doll, Cassie, Soulja Boy, Blac Chyna, Trina, Big Fendi, Joe Budden and Ts Madison.
The show usually began with Minaj reading fans' tweets.
Throughout the show, Minaj played a mixture of songs from her own playlist as well as some tracks from the album.
Additionally, Minaj gave advice to callers about their sex lives.
Minaj made several television appearances and live performances in support of the album.
She also performed the song during her Saturday Night Live season finale appearance on May 19, 2018.
On June 23, 2018, she performed a medley of "Chun-Li" and "Rich Sex" at the BET Awards.
Merchandise and tour bundles were sold with the album.
Further promotion included a co-headlining NickiHndrxx Tour with American rapper Future.
However, it was announced on December 21, 2018 that Future was no longer part of the tour and Minaj will tour with late American rapper Juice Wrld instead; the Nicki Wrld Tour commenced in February 2019 in Europe.
"Chun-Li" was released on April 12, 2018 as the first single alongside "Barbie Tingz".
"Bed", featuring American singer Ariana Grande, was released as the album's second single on June 14 along with the album pre-order, and was later serviced to contemporary hit radio and rhythmic contemporary radio in the United States on June 19.
Its music video, directed by Hype Williams, premiered on July 6 on Minaj's YouTube and Vevo accounts.
The song peaked at number 42 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 19 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and was certified gold by the RIAA.
"Barbie Dreams" was released as the album's third single and serviced to rhythmic contemporary radio in the United States on August 14.
The music video for the song was released on September 11 and was directed by Hype Williams.
It peaked at number 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 13 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and was certified gold by the RIAA.
It peaked at number 60 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 29 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop songs chart.
It peaked at number 56 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 24 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
It was originally intended to be included on Queen but did not make the standard cut, and instead is present on the Target Exclusive edition of the album.
Its music video, directed by Giovanni Bianco, was uploaded to Minaj's YouTube and Vevo accounts on May 4.
The song peaked at number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 17 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.
The song peaked at number 60 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 27 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
"Hard White" was also supported by a music video released on February 1, 2019.
Minaj announced the release of the video a day earlier on Instagram along with the announcement of her Queen Fragrance.
It peaked at number three on both Billboard Hot 100 and the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and was certified 8× Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
"Fefe" was added to the tracklist days after the album release as the track number 20, and only appears in the standard digital edition.
|Vice (Expert Witness)||A–|
Queen was met with generally favorable reviews from critics.
Ella Jukwey of The Independent wrote that Queen is "the most important album of Minaj's career so far.
It's the first time in her career that she has faced real opposition, and this latest record suggests that competition brings out the best in her.
It may lack cohesion at certain points, but one thing is never in doubt: Minaj is still one of the best in her field."
Reviewing for Vice, Robert Christgau said Minaj's album and Eminem's 2018 Kamikaze record are "quick-lipped, sharp-tongued arguments for the hip-hop they and I came up on and the endangered kind of flow both excel at.
And both are funny, outrageous, self-confident announcements that neither artist has any intention of going away."
For Billboard, Kathy Iandoli stated that Queen "exists to exemplify Nicki's proven longevity, which is enough of a rarity to finally declare her as well-deserved rap royalty", although was critical of the album's length.
Briana Younger of Pitchfork gave the album a positive review, stating "the connections between past and present, between style and form, make Queen feel like her most creatively honest album."
Erin Lowers from Exclaim!
gave the album a generally positive review, saying it highlighted the rapper's "ability to adapt to an ever-changing sonic landscape," and concluding that Minaj wasn't going anywhere anytime soon.
In a mixed review, Bryan Rolli of Forbes concluded that Queen is "a great 10-song album hiding inside a messy 19-song album", though complimented Minaj's lyricism, and said the album "gives fans plenty to sink their teeth into."
In Los Angeles Times, Mikael Wood felt Minaj "spends so much time describing her dominance that a clear conclusion is that she fears it's beginning to erode [...] all the back-in-my-day stuff suggests a lack of confidence in her unique perspective."
For The Washington Post, Chris Richards said, "Queen only feels connected to the current rap zeitgeist in the saddest way — as another portrait of a visionary rapper in decline [...] A great Nicki Minaj comeback album would be the first great Nicki Minaj album, period."
Carl Anka of NME wrote, "Unfortunately, in trying to take on all comers at once, there are parts of Queen that feel like an overreach.
There is a better ten track effort hiding in Queen, but you get the impression Nicki kept tracks like "Miami" to hedge her bets in a bid for streaming success."
Mosi Reeves of Rolling Stone wrote that Queen "brings a new Nicki Minaj character: the regal, haughty monarch, a woman who insists on sword-sharpened rhymes as a prerogative for excellence", however noted it to have "a flabby, meandering mid-section."
In an unfavorable review, The Hollywood Reporter's Jonny Coleman deemed the album "[a] joyless mess" and summarized, "Minaj doesn't really investigate any of her issues with herself or others in any meaningful way on the new album.
When all is said and done, it's just another playlist of disconnected mish-mash bangers that we'll probably forget in two weeks."
An article of The New York Times noted the album's first two singles "have failed to stick commercially."
The Atlantic's Spencer Kornhaber criticized its lyrical content, writing, "When Minaj raps on "Hard White" that she "ain't ever have to strip to get the pole position," it's a clear knock on the former exotic dancer who's outcharting her lately, but it also undermines Minaj's broader position that women who use sex appeal and their brains deserve respect.
Rather than attacking the system that has all along made Minaj feel inadequate, she spends her energy building it up and passes her damage right along.
Is there a smarter way?"
Online hip hop publication HipHopDX criticised the album for a lack of depth and its run time: "Nicki Minaj has excelled to the point where Onika Maraj has resorted to being an alter ego when it comes to public appearances and the music.
There are no deep layers to be uncovered on Queen."
In the United States, the album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 with 185,000 album-equivalent units, of which 78,000 were from pure album sales.
The album dropped one place to number three in its second week, earning an additional 95,000 album-equivalent units.
The album dropped to the number five position on the Billboard chart in the third week, moving 64,000 equivalent units.
In the fourth week, Queen slipped from the number five to seven position on the Billboard charts, moving 47,000 equivalent-units.
In Australia, Queen opened at number four on the ARIA Albums Chart, becoming Minaj's highest charting album in the country.
In Canada, the album debuted at number two on the Canadian Albums Chart, behind Scott's Astroworld.
It serves as Minaj's fourth consecutive top-ten album in the country.
In the United Kingdom, Queen debuted at number five on the UK Albums Chart, becoming the rapper's second top-ten album on the chart.
The album also reached the top ten in other music markets, such as Belgium (Wallonia), Netherlands, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland.
Queen is also Minaj's highest peaking album in France and Germany, where it debuted at number seven and eighteen respectively.
|Billboard||Best Albums of 2018||42|
|Okayplayer||The Best Albums of 2018||8|
- signifies a co-producer.
- signifies an additional producer.
- "Ganja Burn" was incorrectly titled as "Ganja Burns" upon release
- "Miami" features additional vocals by Douglas Patterson
- "Fefe" is titled as 'FEFE' in the official tracklist and was added halfway through Queen's first week
- "Barbie Dreams" contains interpolations from "Just Playing (Dreams)", written by Christopher Wallace and Rashad Smith, as performed by The Notorious B.I.G.; samples and interpolations from "Blues & Pants", written by James Brown and Fred Wesley, as performed by Brown
- "Coco Chanel" and "Inspirations (Outro)" contain elements and samples from "Bun Up the Dance", written by Dillon Hart Francis and Sonny Moore, as performed by Dillon Francis and Skrillex
Credits adapted from Queen album liner notes.
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||100,000|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000|
|sales+streaming figures based on certification alone|
|Various||August 10, 2018|
|August 17, 2018||CD|
|Japan||September 26, 2018||CD||Universal Music Japan|
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen (Nicki Minaj album).