Nicki Minaj is a rapper, but she might be done trying to be a rapper. Already a pop star on par with Katy Perry and Ariana Grande, this year Minaj ascended to become a peer of Beyonce, featuring on the remix for “***Flawless.” While mainstream radio lapped up the saccharine, easy-sell Jessie J and Grande collaboration “Bang Bang” and tittered at the campy bounce of Nicki’s own “Anaconda,” the rap world looked on in awe at Minaj’s year-long torrent of filthy one-offs (“Boss Ass Bitch,” “Lookin’ Ass”) and quote-worthy guest verses (Trey Songz “Touchin,’ Lovin,’” and remixes for YG’s “My Nigga,” Young Thug’s “Danny Glover,” and Rae Srummurd’s “No Flex Zone”). These loosies amounted to some of 2014’s best rapping, bar none, and a refreshed, stripped-down new dress code prompted speculation that her third release, The Pinkprint, would be some kind of rootsy, return-to-mixtape form.
But instead of being feted for torching rap, Minaj spent most of the year roped into an imaginary rivalry with a much-lesser, and fielding a storm of condescension about her ass. It got so tired, she spent an entire interview asleep. Almost 20 years after The Source paired a shot of Lil Kim and Foxy Brown with the reductive cover line “Harlots or Heroines?”, it’s like Nicki is bored with defending why a woman has a right to be in rap. So yes, on The Pinkprint, Minaj sticks with what she knows and really likes—and tosses off a few mighty rap tracks, just to say she did it.