On Friday, the Young Money rapper released her 2009 mixtape Beam Me Up Scotty on all streaming platforms. This was a re-release I had expected two years ago on its 10th anniversary, but better late than never. She also released a new single “Seeing Green” with Drake and Lil’ Wayne.
One of the best. Nicki is the ideal case study to break down. Her career has had highs, lows, and plenty of sliding doors moments. If I ever teach a course and have to pick a few rappers to cover, I’ll take the person who just became an unintentional pink Crocs influencer.
She should be mentioned with Drake, J. Cole, and any other success stories from the blog era. Pink Friday and The Pinkprint were two of the biggest rap albums of the decade. Her guest verse on Kanye West’s “Monster” deserves all its praise, but her verse on Beyonce’s “Flawless Remix” is right up there too.
But a few years ago she urged her fans, the Barbz, to cyberbully a journalist that critiqued Nicki. That was messed up. Additionally, the release of her album Queen (2018) was overshadowed by her speaking out against Travis Scott’s Astroworld sales tactics. And then she canceled her North American concert tour due to low ticket sales (which she denied was the reason, but T-Pain told us how these things work).
A chip on her shoulder. Nicki doesn’t take shit from anyone. If she did, she wouldn’t reach the heights that she has. But that energy is one of the reasons these incidents happen. Unfortunately, these incidents hit harder because of the double standards she faces as a woman.
When Drake scrapped with Diddy and dislocated his shoulder at DJ Khaled’s birthday, it was forgotten about quick. But when Cardi B threw a shoe at Nicki at the Met Gala, it got covered like a tabloid scandal.
The sliding doors moments. Nicki’s 2009 – 2014 stretch is unassailable. But there’s an alternate world where Nicki’s 2015 – 2021 plays out better. If Nicki dropped Queen in its own stretch of time, toured with Drake instead of Future in 2018 (or picked a smaller venue), and the “MotorSport” incident with Cardi B never happened, then the last few years would be looked at more highly.
This next chapter of her career will be fascinating. Last year she gave birth to a baby boy. But in February, she tragically lost her father in a hit-and-run accident. Her upcoming HBO docuseries should be a fascinating look at how both have impacted her career. I hope we learn something new.
Read Nicki’s letter to her fans here.