Nicki Minaj Drops Album ‘Queen,’ a Week Early

Nicki Minaj Drops Album ‘Queen,’ a Week Early

After multiple delays and one fake-out, Nicki Minaj has finally dropped her fourth studio album, “Queen” — a week earlier than the Aug. 17 release date she announced last week. Minaj broke the news last night on the first episode of her Beats 1 radio show, and said she’d just finished mixing the album three hours earlier.

The album features guest spots from Eminem, The Weeknd, Lil Wayne, Ariana Grande, Future, Swae Lee, Labrinth and a key Minaj influence, veteran rapper Foxy Brown.

The release date of “Queen” had been bumped at least twice, and earlier this month when she knocked it back another week from Aug. 10 to the 17 th due to a sample-clearance issue — setting her up for a battle with labelmate and collaborator Ariana Grande, whose new album drops on the same day. But that particular standoff has been averted.

Release date headaches aside, Minaj’s Queen rollout has been a whirlwind of chart gains and questionable PR stunts. She scored her first solo Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in four years with “Chun-Li,” which earned a platinum certification from the RIAA. She unleashed the wrath of her super-fans, the Barbz, on unsuspecting culture writer Wanna Thompson, who tweeted the mildest of criticism toward her. She collaborated with vile 22-year-old rapper 6ix9ine—who previously pled guilty to the use of a child in a sexual performance—on the equally vile “FEFE,” which nonetheless crashed onto the Hot 100 at No. 3.

“Queen” is Minaj’s first album release since “The Pinkprint” in 2014, which received praise from fans and critics as like as well as certified platinum status twice by the Recording Industry Association of America. Minaj has already released three singles from the album, “Barbie Tingz,” “Chun-Li” and “Bed,” the latter of which is a duet with Grande.

Thankfully, “FEFE” is absent from Minaj’s overstuffed Queen, her first album since 2014’s The Pinkprint. Predictably, Minaj has a lot to say, and she spares no expense on the star-studded album. It’s a lyrically dense and musically diverse release that would have benefited from stricter quality control, but nonetheless gives Minaj the triumphant comeback she needed

It’s no coincidence that most of Queen’s best tracks hover around the three-minute mark, giving Minaj enough time to develop a singular idea without veering into self-indulgence. She rides the hypnotic trap beat of “Hard White” and sings a delightfully Auto-Tuned chorus that takes cues from Migos’ tried-and-tested formula. Her slick double entendres are swathed in lush, tropical beats on “Bed,” the sex-positive pop banger featuring Ariana Grande that deserved to peak much higher than No. 43 on the Hot 100. “Chun-Li” takes on a new life in the context of the album as well, sounding positively explosive and nearly erasing the memory of the disastrous “Chun Swae” preceding it.

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Minaj will also be headlining the 2018 Made in America music festival along with Post Malone, and the two-day festival will feature performances by Meek Mill, Diplo, Miguel, Janelle Monáe, Alessia Cara at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia on Sept. 1 and Sept. 2, only a few weeks after the release of “Queen.”

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