The Best Nicki Minaj Song

Her debut album ‘Pink Friday’ came out 5 years ago. Since then she has released two albums more and one reissue.

Nov 19, 2015 · 13 min read

by Enric Llonch

As a regular teenage boy in love with pop music I had heard Nicki Minaj. I probably couldn’t write her name without misspelling it but I knew every lyric of “Super Bass”, “Starships”, “Va Va Voom” and “Pound The Alarm”. These were the four songs that were played on pop radio here in Spain, and I remember my 14-year old self listening to “Starships” and saying “I wish the song ended before the electronic part” — because I loved her verse so much and I couldn’t understand why all my friends liked that EDM beat-drop that I hated. Anyway, a couple of years later I started listening to Kanye (and hip-hop in general) and I came across with her verse on “Monster” off My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Obviously, I was stoked — that delivery, that craziness of alter egos trading lines back and forth, that raw emotion — I hadn’t heard anything like this before and I loved it. This is how I started listening to her music — I put Pink Friday and Roman Reloaded: The Re-Up on my iPod for almost a year, and then she released The Pinkprint, her most-personal and mature project yet.

This November is the 5th anniversary of Pink Friday, the beginning of everything. Sure, Nicki had been rapping before that but this album consolidated her career as much as her verse on Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy put her on the spotlight.

That’s the introduction of what I’m trying to do here, heavily inspired by Casey Johnston’s A Decade Of Ye. I’ve chosen 5 songs off Pink Friday, 6 songs off Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded and Roman Reloaded The Re-Up (3 from each), and 5 again off The Pinkprint. At each round I’ll compare two songs, pick a winner at the end of each round and kick out the other track. I’ve tried to represent all of her music styles with that 16-song list, and that’s why I’ve probably missed your favorite — that’s fine, music is subjective and that’s just an experiment I did to proof myself there’s always more to learn about her and her music. I’d love to read your thoughts on the comments (keep in mind English is not my native language at all, and writing about music, in English, is much more complicated than I originally thought).

“I’m The Best” vs. “Up In Flames”

Winner: “I’m The Best”

“Moment 4 Life” vs. “Anaconda”

Winner: “Moment 4 Life”

“Freedom” vs. “All Things Go”

Winner: “Freedom”

“Super Bass” vs. “Starships”

Winner: “Super Bass”

“Roman’s Revenge” vs. “Roman Holiday”

Winner: “Roman’s Revenge”

“The Boys” vs. “Feeling Myself”

Winner: “Feeling Myself”

“Did It On’Em” vs. “Roman Reloaded”

Winner: “Roman Reloaded”

“The Crying Game” vs. “Win Again”

Winner: “The Crying Game”

“I’m The Best” vs. “Moment 4 Life”

Winner: “I’m The Best”

“Freedom” vs. “Super Bass”

Winner: “Freedom”

“Roman’s Revenge” vs. “Feeling Myself”

Winner: “Roman’s Revenge”

“Roman Reloaded” vs. “The Crying Game”

Winner: “The Crying Game”

“I’m The Best” vs. “Freedom”

Winner: “Freedom”

“Roman’s Revenge” vs. “The Crying Game”

Winner: “Roman’s Revenge”

I think everyone should watch two particular videos before talking about Nicki Minaj. The first one is her “pickle juice” video, the second is the recording of “Roman’s Revenge”. Both are from MTV’s documentary My Time Now, recorded before the release of Pink Friday.

If I had to put “Roman’s Revenge” in one word it’d be “energy”. Starting with that Busta reference in the hook, Nicki and Eminem build up the tension until Roman’s mother makes an appearance at the end of the song with that British accent she also did on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’s opening track. The beat feels dark and threatening, with electronic effects all over it like many other tracks of the same album. Technically and lyrically Nicki proves she can go toe-to-toe with legends like Eminem (or even surpass them like she did with Kanye on Pink Friday’s “Blazin” with a greater verse than the famous one she did on Kanye’s “Monster”). Her verse on “Roman’s Revenge” may not be her best one, but the delivery, the energy, is almost unrepeatable, like the whole collab.

“Freedom” is more focused. After the opening track, the amazing “Up In Flames” we’ve already talked about, there was no need to do another opening track — because “Freedom” does sound, a lot, like an opening track. But there it is. “Freedom” is self-aware, conscious about her past (“But before I continue let me thank my crew”), her present (“Oh shit, my commercial’s on / Did I really body bitches with commercial songs?”), and her future (she raps “Did I really prophesy every thing I do?” after spitting “My career’s been the pinkprint / When I retire, tell ’em think pink / Pink Friday is the imprint / And these bitches basic, instinct”. Two years later, in “All Things Go”, she said “Gee we did it, let’s leave this imprint / Just finished writing, this is The Pinkprint”).

Which should win? “Freedom”. That’s the best Nicki, the artist that has won all by herself, that doesn’t have to prove anything to anybody, that knows herself and believes in that. The final line “Would you give your all for you” isn’t just a motivation sentence you’d post on Facebook when you are proud of something, it’s an honest and truthful question she’s asking herself. Judging by what she’s accomplished until now I think it’s just fair to say she would.

Winner: “Freedom”

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