In March of this year, Nicki Minaj tongue-rolled and "chyeaaaah"-ed her way to becoming the woman with the most Billboard Hot 100 appearances ever, with 76 to Aretha Franklin's 73. She's since had more, and her ability to show up on pretty much any artist's song and turn in at least a solid job (a lot of the time elevating the track as a whole) has her as probably rap's most versatile persona.
Today she's on three new tracks from diverse artists—Fergie's "It Takes Two"-sampling "You Already Know," gospel singer Tasha Cobbs Leonard's "I'm Getting Ready," and finally London on Da Track's love-in "No Flag" with 21 Savage and Offset. And with such an abundance of Minajes, I am forced to consider: though all of these Minajes Minaj pretty hard, which is the most Minaj? There must be one Minaj to rule them all, so via the employment of analytical thinking and two important Minaj-related criteria (1) Does she do the 'rrrrr' tongue roll thing? 2) Does she say 'these bitches is my sons'?), I have made a decision:
"You Already Know" – Fergie (ft. Nicki Minaj)
My prayers have been answered and there is finally a song where Fergie raps. It's great, and even if the "It Takes Two" sample is a bit tired, or if that sax solo break about three minutes in is completely bizarre and misplaced, it doesn't matter because Fergie is rapping. Where Nicki's part is concerned, this is great Minaj-feature fare—punchlines abound, she rides the beat as easily as she would a bike, and there's even a tempo change which sounds alarmingly like the one from her best ever guest verse ("Monster," duh), kind of like a casual callback to the past greatness that she still very clearly possesses.
Does she do the 'rrrrr' thing? Yes
Does she say 'these bitches is my sons?' Yes
How Minaj is this Minaj? Classic Minaj!
"I'm Getting Ready" - Tasha Cobbs Leonard (ft. Nicki Minaj)
Honestly there is nothing funnier than Nicki Minaj showing up on the hymn to stunt about owning jet-skis, before humbly thanking God for the fact that she owns them. And though this is certainly a departure in terms of her usual style, her brags are still on point, all in the service of praising Jesus.
Does she say 'these bitches is my sons?' No, because she believes in the son of God, you heathen fuck.
Does she do the 'rrrrr' thing? No
How Minaj is this Minaj? Quite Minaj, but less Minaj than usual.
"No Flag" - London on Da Track (ft. 21 Savage, Offset, and Nicki Minaj)
I've always thought that Nicki Minaj does her best work when she has someone to compete with, and that's true here, when she shows up last and completely bodies everyone else (except potentially the part where Offset has a 'moo' sound effect, which, on my first listen, made me scream aloud). She's mean-sounding, her tempo change-ups are masterful, and overall this is a nice ode to every time she's shown up on the track supposedly as some feminine relief, and completely stolen the show.
Does she say 'these bitches is my sons?' Absolutely of course she does.
Does she do the 'rrrrr' thing? Weirdly, no.
How Minaj is this Minaj? Very fucking Minaj.
So which Minaj Minajes most? There are two real competitors here: it's either her London on Da Track appearance, or her spot with Fergie. In a lot of ways, they're two sides of the same coin (that is, they're demonstrative of her ability to flit between pop and hip-hop), but in the end, I love Nicki best when she's scrappy, mad, and flexing her talents up against some dudes, so it's got to be "No Flag" that is, officially, the most Minaj. Long live Nicki—the only rapper alive who could ever hope to release pop, gospel, and hip-hop on the same day.
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