From insults to injuries, here are the highlights from the rapper's latest project
It’s finally here! After a months-long rollout that included some delays, Nicki Minaj’s fourth studio album Queen is finally available to stream and purchase. Several singles — including “Chun-Li” and the Ariana Grande-featuring “Bed” — have been blasting on the radio for months, but the album boasts a total of 19 tracks, complete with the colorful and creative rhymes that have defined the rapper’s career.
Below, check out a selection of Minaj’s best lines from the record.
“Yo, you can’t wear Nicki wig and then be Nicki / That’s like a fat n— thinkin’ he can be Biggie” (“Ganja Burns”)
It’s been four years since Minaj’s last album, and she’s here to remind you that there’s no replacing the real thing. Her colorful outfits and wigs may have characterized her in the past, but the key to her art is still the music itself. Before going into a list of how the biggest rappers exceed their superficial characteristics (“One rough ride, now you DMX and Swissy? / You made one dope beat, now you Kanye?”) she starts by invoking Notorious B.I.G., whose spirit hangs heavy over this album. One of the best tracks, “Barbie Dreams,” samples the beat from Biggie’s “Dreams.” On the Beats radio show where she debuted Queen, Minaj said that Biggie has been a lifelong inspiration to her — particularly for the sense of humor he wove into his raps.
“Drake worth a hundred milli, always buying me s— / But I don’t know if the pussy wet or if he crying and s—t” (“Barbie Dreams”)
Probably the single most entertaining track on Queen, “Barbie Dreams” finds Minaj playfully insulting pretty much every current rapper who didn’t appear on the album (so you’re safe, Eminem and Future). Among its standout lines is this joke about Drake, which spoofs the Scorpion rapper’s famously emotional music.
“Meek still be in my DMs, I be having to duck him / ‘I used to pray for times like this face ass when I f— him” (“Barbie Dreams”)
Minaj was dating Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill during his 2015 beef with Drake. But now that relationship’s done, so she can fire insults at both of them in the same song. Here, she even mocks the most emotional line from Meek’s iconic “Dreams and Nightmares” (recently used by the Philadelphia Eagles as their Super Bowl entrance music).
“I tried to f— 50 for a powerful hour / But all the n— wanna do is talk Power for hours” (“Barbie Dreams”)
“Barbie Dreams” might as well be titled “Male Tears.” 50 Cent is another male rapper who gets savaged over the course of the song, with Minaj mocking him for his attachment to the Starz show he executive produces.
“Used to f— with Young Thug, I ain’t addressing this s— / Caught him in my dressing room, stealing dresses and s—” (“Barbie Dreams”)
Since he arrived on the hip-hop scene a few years ago, Young Thug has made waves for his androgynous sense of style, which often includes women’s clothing. The Atlanta rapper even appeared on the cover of his 2016 album Jeffery wearing a periwinkle dress, which Minaj uses in her diss of him here.
“I’m the billy, billy goat, the goat, the goat’s here / Vintage Hermès by Jean Paul Gaultier / Lagerfeld customize my gold chair / I run the point, you bitches just go cheer” (“Hard White”)
Minaj isn’t holding back on this album. Here, she christens herself the greatest of all time in a multi-layer pun that also weaves in the polysyllabic names of famous fashion designers Jean Paul Gaultier and Karl Lagerfeld.
“Partying in Paris, these bitches is embarrassed / ‘Cause they know I’m the queen, I still didn’t pick an heiress / Mirror, mirror, who’s the fairest? / (You the motherf— fairest, Nicki” (“Hard White”)
The whole Queen aesthetic, from the title to the cover art featuring Minaj styled like Cleopatra, isn’t just for show. Here she actually inhabits the voice of a fairy-tale queen, and the back-and-forth with a Snow White-style magic mirror is reminiscent of Minaj’s early work, where she would often switch between multiple different personalities and voices.
“Who the f— gonna pull up in your city, looking every bit pretty, with the itty bitty titty bitch crew / Who the f— gon’ beat him with a .22 if he don’t lose the attitude, and run off with his credit cards too” (“Chun Swae”)
Minaj has not been shy about heaping praise on Eminem’s “Majesty” guest verse, and he does indeed rap really fast on that track. But Minaj is pretty good at that style too, and finishes her first verse on this track with a rapid-fire revenge fantasy.
“New bae, I’m his dirty dancer / I said I wouldn’t but I took a chance, sir / Ride him like a sled, Dasher, Prancer” (“Sir”)
Minaj’s collaboration with Future is mostly downbeat and almost morose-sounding compared to the bouncier Queen tracks, but she still sneaks in some of her trademark sex humor. Few things are funnier than describing a sex move by invoking the names of Santa’s reindeer.
“Fast little bitches, but of course I’m the quickest / Mortal Kombat, ninja Nicki, who ya pick is?” (“Miami”)
Minaj certainly knows a lot about fighting games. Of the two singles she released in April to begin the Queen promotional cycle, only one (“Chun-Li”) made the final album, and it invokes Street Fighter’s iconic kickboxing cop.
“You could call me Barbie, ’cause I look just like a dolly / Yes I bury them when they come for me, call me Halle” (“Miami”)
Minaj elucidates her famous nickname while also turning actress Halle Berry’s name into a badass boast.
“That’s word to southside, Jamaica, Queens on ’em / I’m mad Queens on ’em, with mad schemes on ’em” (“Coco Chanel”)
There’s more than one definition of “queen” at work on this album — not just queen of rap or Queen Cleopatra, it’s also literally the name of the New York borough Minaj grew up in. She hasn’t forgotten it.
“My ice gleams on ’em, Wu-Tang creams on ’em / I pull up on the block bumpin’ Biggie ‘Dreams’ on ’em” (“Coco Chanel”)
Never let it be said that Minaj is shy about her influences. As if the Biggie invocation on “Ganja Burns” and the beat sample on “Barbie Dreams” weren’t enough, she directly references the song here — and if you’re unlucky enough to be one of the rappers she drags on the former track, you’d know to fear her pulling up on you with that beat. Biggie isn’t the only iconic New York rapper, of course; here, Minaj also references the Wu-Tang Clan and their famous mantra: cash rules everything around me.
“They call me Ms. Bitch, but I don’t miss, bitch” (“Coco Chanel”)
Who else is ready to sign a petition to get this bar to replace Omar Little’s iconic line from The Wire — “you come at the king, you best not miss” — as the ultimate confident boast?
“Had to drop Queen on ’em like a guillotine / All these jealous bitches on the jelly team / Keepin’ it a hundred, that’s a jelly bean” (“Coco Chanel”)
It’s funny to hear Minaj invoke the ultimate monarch-killing weapon in the midst of proclaiming herself a queen, but that’s just how this album goes. It’s also pretty funny that her final words on the album, before launching into the outro and its recitation of inspirations, are “jelly bean.”