Nicki Minaj likes to have sex with women and I don’t do music reviews. Pink Friday is absurdly good though, and this is why.
Note: Please don’t read this without listening to the album. Each song is linked in the number before it. Click on them. Listen to them as you read or before, but listen. It’s really fucking important.
1. I’m The Best. Nicki just starts out her CD with something that we all know but maybe have forgotten: I’m The Best. How do we know that? She explains that she wasn’t given this out of nowhere, she worked from nothing to this superstar status. She isn’t the first to make it big, but other people became big for themselves, whereas Nicki did it for us. She became a megastar because we needed her to become a megastar. She explains that she is the best because it’s selfless for her to be the best – to be the one everyone loves, and she hopes someday the rest of us will be as smart and amazing as her because it’s lonely being so much better than the rest of us. I hope I can make her less lonely.
2. Then she starts her album for real with the words: “I am not Jasmine, I am Aladdin.” Just as in fairy tales we’ve been told since we were tiny, the rap game has been a patriarchal world. Nicki’s having none of that. Thus she declares that she is not the useless pretty girl who is simply the impetus for male actions – she is male action. Then she calls herself a cunt because she has a vagina and she is fucking proud of it. She is male action with a pussy. She uses a lot of fairy tale imagery to remind us that we are constantly bombarded with gender roles – specifically ones that make the man the chivalrous savior with a large sword and the woman the helpless piece of skinny being held prisoner by a dungeon dragon.
Who does she get to be featured on this track (essentially the first track of the album)? The voice of patriarchy – the biggest, whitest name in the rap game. Eminem plays his part well, explaining that he doesn’t take shit from women and if they stand up to him he’ll rape them and film it. He then offers a game plan as to how to defeat his patriarchal rain of terror. If life sucks: “kick it back in the face.” She does kick him back in the face but she illustrates how hard it is to combat this when the male norm in power, represented by Eminem, when that power says things like: “All you little faggots can suck it, no homo” and that gets regarded as reasonable.
3. Then she busts out the best song of the 21st century that starts with “Shitted on ’em, I just shitted on ’em.” In case you forgot, she’s better than everybody else and she’s into fucking girls. Like a man. She’s better than a man. She fucks more girls than whatever male idol you have, because (a) “A lot of bad bitches beggin me to F1” (she rhymed F1 three times in a row) girls want to fuck her (b) “She ain’t a Nicki fan, bitch is deaf dumb” so that explains the few girls that won’t fuck her – they’re stupid and can’t hear how amazing she is (c) “If I had a dick, I would pull it out and piss on ’em” because she doesn’t have a dick and she needs to remind you of that.
4. She’s better than a man, right? She’s established that. Then comes her most clichéd girly song. She’s post-modern. Nicki is a woman and sometimes she likes to fuck men. She’s not just showing her feminine side though, she’s showing that when she shows her feminine side it necessitates her being defeated by a man. By subscribing to a feminine archetype, a man sees “right thru her.”
5. “Me against them.” This is a rap album and rapping is about bragging – about battling and winning. Here Nicki explains that she is not just the best but she’s the best despite the fact that everyone is constantly trying to bring her down. How are they bringing her down? By defining her as a female rapper, or a pop star, or as any word because “[She] is not a word.” “I am not a girl who can be defined.” She is Nicki Minaj. She refuses to be defined by anyone else because only she can define herself and she is simply defining herself as the best – as the winner – as “the voice of an entire generation.” She is the ultimate rapper because she refuses to define herself as a rapper.
6. Just when you think it’s simply an album about bragging about how amazing she is, she displays her vulnerability and hypocrisy. “Yes, I’m a beast and I feast when I conquer/but I’m alone on my throne.” She wants to make it on her own, but she’s scared of what making it on her own will make her, and she needs you to save her. Who is “you?” That will be answered later.
7. The first assumption we would have about who she is calling out for help – who can save her from her hypocrisy – would be her friends. So she sings a love song to her friends at Young Money. But they can’t save her. They are simply a moment to her. They created a wonderful moment, but it is a moment. A moment that she is thankful for because moments create the whole, but it is not the whole. You have to enjoy all the moments. “Everybody dies, but not everybody lives.”
8. This is how I know I’m right/brilliant. The version I downloaded had “Check it Out” as the next track and I thought it was weird. It didn’t fit the narrative of her thought process. So I checked out her official tracklist. The next song is “Here I Am.” This is the answer to who can save her. Confused? Don’t be.
Nicki, in a very dark song, keeps exclaiming “here I am.” She’s desperate for attention from this same, still unnamed person who can supposedly save her from becoming the monster that she thinks fame will turn her into. “Everything in life is old.”
9. The mood shifts drastically to cheesiest sounding, girliest love song to this person who can supposedly save her. She desperately pleads that this person come back to her – this person that she supposedly wronged and wants back in her life. Who is this person? Well the song is called “Dear Old Nicki.” Just when you thought she was showing all this vulnerability as a woman and she was gonna need a man to complete her, she says “fuck you, yeah I’m vulnerable, but the person I need to save me is not some man, but rather a woman, and not just any woman, ME. Me will save me. But me before the fame.”
Every single line is fantastic in this song, but essentially it is just saying: “I’m glad I did what I did because as a famous person I can do good, but before I was famous I didn’t have to worry about the shallow things that maintain fame and I miss those moments – those moments when I was a different person.”
10. Then she plays the first single that made her popular. Just to remind us bitches that she can sample Annie Lennox and still be a bad ass bitch that will blow your mind. And she needs “your” love. Who is you? Her. Old her.
I really like Rube Goldbergs, and I’ve never been able to explain it validly – there is no real use to them. This is why. This album is the Rube Goldberg of narrative. Each track triggers the next track. This is why I like Rube Goldbergs because they defy narrative in that they mean nothing while simultaneously being a slave to narrative in that there is no way to move on to the next piece without finishing the first part.