Nicki Minaj can stop all the bags as she sees fit—petty is a prerogative, after all—but none of that matters if she isn't musically in her own. Queen Radio could use some time constraints and tangent restraint, but at its best, it's a thrilling listen as the vehicle Nicki's been using to double down on her Heel Turn. She reshapes narratives at her will and responds to controversies in real time (most of them, anyway).
Most importantly, Nicki lays waste to her enemies in theatrical fashion—in a way that translates much more successfully than social media ever could. On Twitter, she sounded like a salty, sore loser regarding ASTROWORLD. On Queen Radio, I might fundamentally disagree that Travis Scott deserved Hoe Nigga of the Week, but Lord was her rant fucking hilarious. Hypocritical, sure, but 100 seconds of perfectly delivered and uniquely phrased comedy gold.
That entertainment feels hollow, though, if the music is lacking. The rants and posturing would hit a lot harder if the new album wasn't uneven. The sentiment of freely expressing any opinion—positive or negative, with zero disregard for industry politics and niceties—is fun to observe and even admire. Now, imagine how much more power it would pack if the music was stronger. Queen is overhated on and not without its bright spots—"Chun-Li," "Good Form," "LLC," hell even one or two of the ballads like "Come See About Me"—but it's far from an album you can sit through like The Pinkprint.
Worse still, it shows that Nicki still hasn't figured out how to distill her unequivocally acclaimed features and loosies into one project everyone can rally behind. The best (or at least, my favorite) tracks on Queen are the ones that feature more slickly-worded, boss-ass-bitch talk that she revels in on Beats1. We need Nicki to not only keep that same energy on wax, but channel it to produce the same quality as well.
Which is to say, her newest verse on one of Future's solo songs from WRLD on Drugs is a step in the right direction. These bars gleefully ooze villainy and most importantly, the flows (all three of them!) are airtight, a gracious course-correction from their tepid collab "Sir" on Queen: "I'm still a bad guy, I am a Decepticon/some call me Nicki but some call me Megatron/I'm stopping bags and I don't need a red octagon." Well, alright then! Rappers downplaying beef in the light of day but continuing to throw subs without naming names has been a big trend this year (hello, Drake) so who's to say if this will recharge the battery in Cardi's back, but it definitely sounds like Nicki's is back at 100%. A return to good form, as it were.
More of this, please.