With the release of Nicki Minaj’s new album, “Queen”, today’s post will be a top 20 selection of her best songs (in my opinion) prior to “Queen”. I will be giving a little summary of each song and highlighting my favourite lyrics from each track.
So in no particular order let’s get to it! (Also, just click the title to listen to any of the songs I’ve listed.)
Short, sweet and a straight punch in the face. “Playtime is Over” off of Minaj’s debut mixtape of the same name, sees her using fiery metaphors over a fast beat, sampling DJ Khaled’s “We Takin’ Over”, to establish her mark in the music industry. Minaj clarifies to us that she is leading the female rap game as she is “Mother May.”
My favourite lyrics are the ones below where Nicki puts a spin on Kelis’ 2003 song “Milkshake” whilst also explaining that her elite rap skills leave other female rappers stunned.
All the boys want Nicki, all the boys want mine
All the boys say they love me, yeah, they love me long time
Yes, I’m the girl that they heard of, I commit murder
I body bit**es, I don’t need a burner
2. The Jump Off
Another track off Minaj’s debut mixtape, “The Jump Off” samples Lil’ Kim’s song of the same name and serves as an anthem for the women and men that are down to ride for each other. Produced by Timbaland, this song is a straight banger suitable for anytime.
My favourite lyrics are the chorus where Minaj gives a shout out to the females that are willing to “transport bricks” meaning move drugs for their loved ones.
Where my chicks
All my girls that’ll transport bricks
Got some MAC lip gloss on ya lips
Keep a real good jean on ya hips
You can get it
3. Dilly Dally
In “Dilly Dally” as stated in the title, Minaj informs us that she no longer dilly dallies with her time as she is now a rapper who has gone from being “broker than them ni**as in the alley” to driving a “Chevi Impali”. This track samples Jay-Z’s “Kingdom Come” and allows Minaj to assert her dominance as a female rapper as she calls out Lil Mama, another female rapper, stating to her that “If you write your lyrics, little mama, I can dig it.”
My favourite lyrics for this song are in the second verse where Minaj explains how tight money used to be for her cleverly using the Pilates exercise simile to now explain that due to her rap “hobby” money has become the least of her concerns. She highlights this point as she tells us that she now goes to the bathroom in Zanotti shoes which are luxury shoes that go for a minimum of $300 on SALE!
I used to make a dollar stretch like a Pilate
Now I gotta play the potty in Giuseppe Zanotti
Gotta push the Maserati, candy paint on the body
Making money off the hobby, taking flicks in the lobby
Minaj’s “Girls Fall Like Dominoes” is another upbeat anthem dedicated to the females thriving in their pursuits. From her 2010 album “Pink Friday”, this song samples the Big Pink’s “Dominoes” and will get you rapping along in no time.
My favourite lyrics are in the second verse of the song where Minaj describes the female models that are out there working hard, getting paid and being independent with their “mozzarella.” I also love the consecutive lines where Minaj is able to seamlessly rhyme the ‘no’ syllable with “Galliano” an Italian liqueur, “Filipino”, “Pellegrino” an Italian beverage, “Al Pacino” an American actor most well known for his role in “The Godfather” and “kilo.”
Material girls like Madonna, model for Donatella
Ain’t nothing you can tell her, cause she get the Mozzarella
She look just like Rihanna, she
Work with Wilhelmina only rocking Galliano
She might be Filipino, be sipping Pellegrino
Be watching Al Pacino, she could probably sniff a kilo
A chilled beat but don’t get this message twisted. Minaj’s “Warning” serves as a literal warning to any woman trying to flirt with her boyfriend when she finds out from her friend, Kandi, that she thinks her man might have another “Misses.” “Warning” samples Notorious B.I.G’s song of the same name and after listening to both you can hear the similarities and the admiration Minaj has for the rap king, Biggie.
My favourite lyrics from this track is when Minaj explains how the ones closest to her who she went to prom with are the same ones who want to break-up her relationship.
Damn bitches wanna fu** with my man
On the other hand, things ain’t always what you plan
It’s the ones up in your prom picture, salon wit’cha
Now they wanna creep in your man’s jeep
Minaj dedicates this anthem to the men out there despite all obstacles are continuing to strive and persevere. With a soulful beat produced by No I.D. and backing vocals by Minaj and Angel De-Mar, this track highlights the strong men who “don’t snitch” and “take care of all of they kids.”
This is for my ni**as that don’t snitch, all uh my ni**as that don’t bitch
All my ni**as that tore fifths, this is for my ni**as that don’t cry
All of my ni**as that don’t smile all my ni**as that don’t lie
This is for my ni**as that take care, all of they kids
Order some bids, and take ‘em to day care
7. Letcha Go
Minaj in “Letcha Go” discusses her outrage when she finds out that her partner has been disloyal to her after giving him her all. This track samples Fabulous’ “Can’t Let you Go” and includes soothing vocals. However, the catchy instrumental doesn’t detract from Minaj’s enragement when she finds out from her friend Pam, with “the hidden cam”, that her partner was with another woman making Minaj tempted to spike her partner’s “Welch’s Grape” a soda beverage, with “Strychnine” an extremely toxic, translucent poison.
Pam’ had the hidden cam, like Killa
Funny how ya win some, ya lose some
Never worry where your income, would come from
Cause no matter, where you was I held you down
Up north, to uptown, so how you sound
If I’da known you was fake, I’da laced your steak
Strychnine, one time, in your Welch’s Grape
8. I’m Cumin’
Minaj samples Notorious B.I.G’s “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems” to once again explain her admiration for him and Mase as she begins her first verse in the same manner. She uses this track to once again assert her dominance as she is the female rapper from “Queens” (Jamaica Queens, New York) with the “platinum sound.”
I’m the Young Queens bitch, with the platinum sound
None of ya girls can steal my shine, Fendi –
Schooled me to the game, now I’m in my prime
Stay humble, stay low, stay on the grind
I don’t need a light, but I stay in the lime
9. Encore ‘07
As the title suggests, “Encore ‘07” is also from Minaj’s debut mixtape released in 2007 which samples Linkin Park’s “Numb” and Jay-Z’s “Encore.” “Encore ‘07” serves as Minaj’s release from the pressures of starting out as a female in the rap industry as all people see of her is a “pretty face” without acknowledging her writing and rapping skills. She also delves deeper into the surreal nature of losing her grandmother who was “dead right” that her time was coming “that night” and Nicki’s struggle as she asks God to “somehow…press rewind.”
All they see’s a pretty face, how I ride the base
So I put my hoodie down just to hide my face
They don’t see the tears I cry, the fears I hide
Tend to keep my cares inside, it’s merely pride
Like my grandmother, I wonder if she next to pop
Said the next time I seen her she would be in a box
Damn she was right, she was dead right
How was I to know, that would be her last night?
If I could turn back the time
Dear God, somehow could you press rewind?
Nicki and Drake, you know it’s about to go DOWN! “Best I Ever Had” by Drake alone is pretty good but Minaj’s verse just raises the stakes. Featured as a track on her 2009 mixtape “Beam me up Scotty”, Minaj’s verse complements Drake’s theme of dedicating this song to a certain special someone.
My favourite lyrics highlight how Minaj is like a superwoman as she puts that “S on [her] chest” as people are “vicariously” living through her whilst still having time for her lover.
I figured out that when I go out an all those people scream that’s some of them are living vicariously through me
That’s why I put that “S” on ma chest and I`m gone
But on another note, let’s have sex in my dorm
Off her 2010 mixtape “Barbie World”, “Girlfriend” as the name implies is dedicated to her girlfriend. An up-beat song with a catchy chorus, Minaj explains her strong friendship as whenever she goes shopping she must “buy two” one for her in the “pink” and the “light blue” for her “BFF”. She even bought her friend a new “Range Rover” car for her birthday which emphasises her love for her friend.
However, my favourite lyrics of this song is when Minaj plays with “I.C.E” and “I.C.U” explaining that if they don’t get their diamonds, the jewellers are going to be in the Intensive Care Unit.
Anyway, we VIP, we don’t even need I.D
Put ’em in the I.C.U. If they don’t bring the I-C-E
12. Up Out My Face
Mariah and Nicki another duo that is FIRE! Minaj and Carey use this track to tell the “boys” out there that they better get “out of [their] face” if they aren’t serious about relationships. Initially released in 2009 off Carey’s “Memoirs of an imperfect Angel”, she re-released this song featuring Minaj in 2010. And I’m glad she did!
My favourite lyrics from Minaj is in the second verse where she explains that now that she has broken “like tacos” with her former partner, she is now living better in a “penthouse”, leaving him like “Roscoe” with the “snot-nose”, an allusion to the character, Roscoe, in the popular 90’s sit-com ‘Martin.’
Yo, styling on them big B’s, bought the Benz out
Elevator, press P for the penthouse
Top doe’s, then we break like tacos
Roscoe’s, on his knees with a snot-nose
13. Sweet Dreams
A catchy flow, that will get you hooked. Minaj remakes Beyoncé’s 2008 “Sweet Dreams” to address the haters out there that she is more than just rapper but a “brander.” She doesn’t care about the “bloggers” that are spreading negative “propaganda” about her because she is here to dominate with her “high stats” and “hospital flow.” In fact, according to Celebrity Net Worth, as of August 2018, Minaj has a net worth of $75 million.
F**k all your blogs, f**k all your propaganda
Good for the goose then it’s good for the gander
Nicki ain’t a rapper, Nicki is a brander
Please you can never compare to me
All these bit**es is scared of me
I am who they couldn’t even dare to be
14. I’m the Best
With a bubble-gum beat, Minaj’s “I’m the Best” off her 2010 “Pink Friday” album, talks about her confusion of choosing careers, dabbling in acting before finding and harnessing her skills in rap. She discusses that not only does she rap for herself but for her brothers, Micaiah and Jelani as well as the females out there that “never thought they could win.”
You could never understand why I grind like I do
Micaiah and Jelani why I grind like I do
All the girls will commend as long as they understand
That I’m fighting for the girls that never thought they could win
Cause before they could begin, you told them it was the end
But I am here to reverse the curse that they live in
15. Moment 4 Life
Another memorable track off her debut album, “Pink Friday”, Minaj collaborates with Drake to discuss her achievements in the music industry and despite the rumours that she got “lucky” with her success she clarifies that she persevered to attain her elite rap position because she “put on everything” to “retire with the ring.”
Put it on everything, that I will retire with the ring
And I will retire with the crown, Yes!
No, I’m not lucky, I’m blessed,Yes!
Clap for the heavyweight champ, Me!
Kanye and Nicki make moves on this track. Minaj establishes that her success is the regular and has become a “monotony” now. I particularly love her play on the word heroin and heroine, describing her music as addictive as “heroin” and her position in the rap industry as a “heroine.”
Mothafu**ers ain’t ready, they neva’ been
As long as I am in the game, you’ll never win
I’m on that different type of high, heroin
Put on my cape and hit the sky, heroine!
From her 2012 album “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded”, “Champion” is a salute to Minaj’s dedication and hard work thus far in the music industry. With features from fellow rappers Nas, Young Jeezy and Drake, this track goes hard and will have you pressing replay.
However, despite this being a Nicki track, my favourite lyrics are from Young Jeezy’s verse where he references his success of making “over a mill” to his mother and how she used “food stamps” to survive.
Over a mil in three weeks, yeah I did it like a champ
Momma taught me pride, yeah she did it with the stamps
18. Your Love
Up-beat, funky and a total mood-booster. “Your Love” from Minaj’s 2010 “Pink Friday” album is devoted to a lover that leaves her mesmerised and “wanting more.”
Minaj explains how his love gives her the ability to understand “thai” and takes us on a fantasy where she is a “geisha” and he is a “samurai” which I think is pretty creative.
Anyway I think I met him in the sky
When I was a Geisha he was a Samurai
Somehow I understood him when he spoke Thai
Never spoke lies and he never broke fly
19. Did it On Em
A total banger. Minaj creates this track to tell the people out there that even if they don’t like her, she is still “shittin” on this rap game. I personally love how her hype man, Safaree, elevates this song by adding humorous remarks in the background.
However, the last lyrics of Minaj’s first verse are my favourite as she suggests that fellow rapper, Lil Kim wants to “turn back time”, (alluding to Cher’s song “If I could turn back time”) because she is no longer a big name in the rap industry and is now “gone” like “Nair”, a hair removal product.
If you could turn back time – Cher
You used to be here, now you gone – Nair
20. Pills N Potions
Off her 2014 album “The Pinkprint”, Minaj explains that despite those that haven’t wished her well she still has “love” for them and would never wish “death on em.” She explains the façade of true friendship as those whom she once called ‘friends’ were self-interested and were only there for her because it was “beneficial” for them.
Yo, people will love you and support you when it’s beneficial
I’mma forgive, I won’t forget, but I’mma dead the issue
That’s a wrap for my top 20! I hope you discovered some new Nicki tracks that you haven’t heard before. Also, even if you don’t like Nicki Minaj, you have to give her respect because she has worked hard to get where she is now and her earlier tracks in my opinion go HAM!
If you liked this post let me know, I would love to hear from you!