Instead of dragging out lazy Missy Elliott comparisons, critics should be measuring Nicki Minaj against J.K. Simmons or Mariano Rivera. The buxom and boisterous MC is a scene-stealing character actor, an all-star save artist who can elevate dreck like Christina Aguilera’s extended vagina/cake metaphor, “Woohoo,” into a must-hear. Frankly, her guest spots blow away her solo work. Here’s why.
She’s not afraid to fake Jamaican.
In Gyptian’s “Hold Yuh (Remix),” Minaj comfortably slips on an outrageous patois, spitting “dem” left and right, rhyming “cigarette” with “figure eight.”
She’s one of the boys.
Pink Friday plays up Minaj’s Barbie shtick (she’s even a doll on the cover). On her single “Right Thru Me,” she’s a quivering mass of X chromosomes. Elsewhere, she can out-raunch Eminem. See how she autographs “tig-ol-bitties” (Usher’s “Lil Freak”), talks about “testies” (Ludacris’s “My Chick Bad”) and constantly drops sports references (“That blue and yellow / Yeah, that’s the Carmelo Jag / I bob and weave ’em / Hit ’em with that Mayweather jab,” on Mariah Carey’s “Up Out My Face”).
Her flow is bonkers.
Minaj makes no consideration of radio friendliness when dropping in on a buddy’s song. She often disregards the trite melodies and monotonous meter as well—shifting gears from conversational to cartoonish to maniacal, slipping into different voices. In a generic club anthem like Trey Songz’s “Bottoms Up,” the Sybil routine keeps us on the edge of our seat.
She can beat up Jay-Z.
No argument: Jay-Z is the greatest MC in the game. But on Kayne’s “Monster,” the CEO of rap is sent running with his tail between his legs. Hova spits some nonsense about vampires and his Achilles’ heel being love. Then Nicki grabs the mic. The beat seems to get bigger as she proceeds to do just about all of the above in the span of 16 bars.