Nicki Minaj has been in the rap game for almost 20 years now, and finally her contributions to the genre are getting recognized. In these last few weeks alone, she's had a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 ("Super Freaky Girl"), has released a greatest hits album with Queen Radio Volume 1, and was honored during Sunday's (August 28, 2022) MTV VMAs, where she got to perform a medley of songs and received the Video Vanguard Award for her astounding career.
It's not an overstatement to say Nicki Minaj helped make female rappers cool again. Her work has inspired the likes of Tinashe, Billie Eilish, Megan Thee Stallion, Cupcakke, Latto, City Girls, Rico Nasty, and especially Lil Nas X, who first came to fame by making a Twitter fan account for her. Doja Cat has even thanked Nicki Minaj in the lyrics to her hit song "Get Into It (Yuh)."
Why does the music world love Nicki Minaj so much? It's because she's unique, animated, freaky, and oh-so campy. Her tracks were a defining part of popular 2010s music, and she has not lost her relevancy since gaining mainstream popularity. She may pick fights every now and then, but she's also passionate, experimental, funny, and very much ahead of her time.
For this top 10 list of Minaj's music, we'll only be recognizing Nicki's songs exclusively. So for those of you hoping we'd be including her knockout verse in "Monster" on this list...we sincerely apologize. (Trust us, we're sad about it, too.) Fortunately, Nicki has so many other sweet hits that we're sure you'll end this list feeling satisfied. Without further ado, here's Live365's picks for the Top 10 Nicki Minaj songs!
10. "Beez in the Trap"
“Beez In The Trap” is a spacy, slow, and slappy romp. It's the first track shared by Nicki Minaj and 2 Chainz and is taken from Minaj’s sophomore album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. The song marks the beginning of many collaborations between the two artists, such as “I Luv Dem Strippers,” “Realize,” and “Big Bank.” The track was released on May 29, 2012, and the official music video was released almost two months prior.
On the fan-favorite track, Nicki and 2 Chainz rap about “beez in the trap,” or being in a place where one can obtain drugs and money. The “trap” is the drug dealing spot or any place where you get money. (The originally Southern term has become so common that it now has its own music genre!) Meanwhile, Nicki is using “beez” as a modified vernacular form of the verb “to be” to say what would translate to, “I am frequently in the trap." No: she's not talking about trapping actual honeybees, though the pun is pretty sweet.
9. "Feeling Myself (feat. Beyoncé)"
You know it's a banger when Queen Bey is featured in the mix. "Feeling Myself" is a track from Nicki's 2014 album The Pinkprint. It sees both her and Beyoncé celebrating their achievements and promoting the art of self-love. It's a slick beat meant to bring out inner girlboss energy.
“Feeling Myself” could be viewed as the continuation of Nicki and Beyoncé's acclaimed summer collaboration “Flawless (Remix).” The song was produced by Hit-Boy (the same guy who produced JAY-Z and Kanye's "N----s in Paris"), and in May 2015, an official video was released exclusively for Tidal subscribers. However, parts of the visual quickly leaked across the internet. The video features choreography from Parris Goebel, the then-23 year-old New Zealander who would blow up later in 2015 when she choreographed and directed the video for Justin Bieber’s “Sorry.”
"Let's go to the beach-each, let's go get a wave!" We have vivid memories of boogieing to this song in the early 2010s. More hardcore Minaj fans may view "Starships" as the black sheep in her catalogue, as it contains a purely pop sound made by RedOne. But you can't deny "Starships" shot Minaj to international success. Without "Starships," Minaj may not have been able to maintain her relevancy over these last 15 years.
“Starships” was a massive hit for Minaj. It’s one of her longest charting singles on the Hot 100, and spent much of its run inside the top 10 of the chart, peaking at #5. It also hit #2 on both Dance related charts, and #3 on US Rhythmic. We pin that huge success to the song's relatable message about defying expectations, Minaj's soaring vocals, and that monsterous beat drop after the chorus. Oh, and did we mention that this song inspired one of the funniest Vines of all time? We'll admit: we've called our beloved rap queen "Ninki Minjaj" every now and then.
7. "Moment 4 Life"
One of the more tender songs in Minaj's discography, "Moment 4 Life" was released as the fourth single from her debut album, Pink Friday. “Moment 4 Life” is about the fairytale-like success of becoming a rapper and not taking any moments for granted. Little do casual fans know that Minaj actually freestyled the tune's memorable hook. This track is also a fierce collaboration with Drake. He gets pretty busy with his bars and acts as the "Prince Charming" of the Cinderella-inspired music video.
About "Moment 4 Life", Minaj wrote on Facebook, "[The song] is about 2 kids that grew up on the same block. They shared their dreams of making it as rappers. They laughed together, they cried together. One day they realize that their dreams have come to fruition. Though they know all things come to an end, they celebrate. They wish that they could have this moment 4 LIFE. Oh yeah barbz, Moment 4 Life features Drake! I was really looking forward to our collaboration and it lived up to every one of my expectations."
Named after the first female character in the video game series Street Fighter (or any fighting game, to be precise), the shadowy and hard-hitting “Chun-Li” was released alongside “Barbie Tingz” in April 2018. It came after Nicki Minaj’s 4 month hiatus from social media. The singles were the first songs from her fourth studio album Queen.
Throughout the song, Nicki compares herself to Chun-Li by saying she’s one of the first female rappers to dominate the rap game. She states that she's still "been on" despite her rivals' efforts to put her down. With the heavyweight bars in this track, Minaj's persona becomes mightier than King Kong. Nicki previously referenced both Street Fighter and Chun-Li in her verse on 2011’s “Fireball” by Willow Smith, where she raps: "Ok I’m the street fighter, call me Chun-Li."
5. "Roman Holiday"
Underrated yet culturally relevant in the age of the internet, we think "Roman Holiday" is the perfect opener for Nicki's sophomore album, Pink Friday...Roman Reloaded. This song is everything we love about Minaj: kooky, epic, and hella ballsy.
First, we need to talk about the iconic performance of this song at the 2012 Grammy Awards. When Nicki Minaj first showed the world “Roman Holiday" through that performance, it received a multitude of mixed reviews from critics, who described it with words like “demonic,” “theatrical,“ and “outraging.” The Exorcism of Roman, the name for Nicki’s performance, became one of the most controversial performances at the Grammys. After the show, Nicki spoke with Ryan Seacrest and told him that the Grammys actually asked for her to perform the song and that: "It was the most comfortable I have ever felt on stage in my entire life." It was later revealed Minaj had to deal with several restrictions in order for the number to even be aired on TV.
Looking back, we now realize Minaj was just ahead of her time – as she usually is. "Roman Holiday" is actually a song that tells the story of a young gay boy whose religious mother tries to diminish his sexuality through some sort of "exorcism." The important bop is now fondly remembered for Minaj's use of different characters (the religious mother, Martha, and her gay son, Roman Zolanski), the raging congo drum beat in the chorus, and of course, that unintelligible stuttering in the second verse that has since become a meme.
4. "Roman's Revenge (feat. Eminem)"
From its very first line, "I am not Jasmine, I am Aladdin," you know this song is a banger. "Roman's Revenge" is the first track that introduced Minaj's Roman Zolanski character. "Roman's Revenge" is a song from Pink Friday where Roman responds to provocations from a certain queen bee. (Who we later learned was Lil' Kim.) "Roman's Revenge" is part diss track, part power-up anthem, and part Busta Rhymes tribute with that "Rah, rah, like a dungeon dragon" line.
"Roman's Revenge" is also part collab. Minaj is joined by another rapper who knows a thing or two about alter egos: Eminem. He raps from his crazed Slim Shady persona, who claims that he has a "pretzel for a brain" and is more than willing to "piss a Happy Meal off." The ordeal warrants an ending appearance from Roman's mother, Martha, who yells, "Roman, Roman, stop it, stop it / You've gone mad, mad, I tell you, mad / You and this boy Slim Shady / What's going on? They'll lock you away / They'll put you in a jail cell, I promise / Take your mother's warning, Roman, pleeeeeease!"
The world was definitely not ready for "Anaconda" when it was released back in the summer of 2014. This raunchy and twerkalicious track, which expertly samples Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back," is all about butts, butts, and more butts. But that's why it's such a fun song to shake your buns too!
“Anaconda” is the second single from her third studio album, The Pinkprint, and it’s loaded to the brim with sexual innuendo. With "Anaconda," it's easy to get lost in the Rated R imagery and crazy music production, but there are some seriously masterful bars on this thing. Our personal favorites are "Real country-ass n----, let me play with his rifle / P---- put his ass to sleep, now he calling me NyQuil," as well as "So I pulled up in the Jag, and I hit him with the jab like /
Sure – "Anaconda" is a dirty hit, but it was made for a body positive cause. "I wanted to create a song that embraced curvy women," Nicki has revealed on Genius. "I wanted to be sexual but be playful with it. And I wanted it to be so melodic that even if you don’t understand English you could still go along with the melody and you would have no idea about all the raunchy s--- I’m saying — I get a kick out of that. It was simple to write. I just created the melody and then I let the words happen. I started laughing when I said, “Boy toy named Troy.”"
2. "Super Freaky Girl"
We believe "Anaconda" walked so this latest Nicki Minaj hit could run. With "Super Freaky Girl," Minaj has proved that she is the queen of sampling. Compared to "Anaconda," the lyrics on this track are just as raunchy, the rhythm of her rapping is just as catchy, and the production is just as juicy.
Similar to Gwen Stefani teaching the world how to spell "bananas," Nicki teaches us how to spell the word "freak" while fully describing what it means to be one. Some of our favorite lines on this track include, "I got a princess face, a killer body, samurai mind," and "On applications I write "pressure" 'cause that’s what I apply."
Thanks to the awesome Rick James sampling and killer lyrics, “Super Freaky Girl” debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 during the chart week ending August 27, 2022. It earns Nicki’s first unaccompanied and third in total #1 hit, and has made her the first solo female rapper since Ms. Lauryn Hill to debut atop the Billboard Hot 100.
1. "Super Bass"
This one is for the boys with the boomin' system and the boys with the polos! For our #1 pick, we got to give it up to the song that made us fall in love with Nicki so many years ago. Originally released on April 5, 2011, as a Pink Friday deluxe edition cut, “Super Bass” quickly turned into a smash hit. Simply put, it's "pelican fly."
On this certified Diamond song, Nicki raps about love and legitimate industry dudes. Nicki has described "Super Bass" as a song "about the boy that you are crushing over, […] And you kind of want to get your mack on, but you’re taking the playful approach." Something about the production is hopeful, optimistic, and romantic with just a teaspoon of edginess. It's the kind of song that even Joseph Gordon-Levitt can get down to.
"Super Bass" has proved to be one of the defining pop/hip-hop anthems of the early 2010s, and listening to it today still feels like a timeless experience. Nicki Minaj has come a long way, but "Super Bass" proves that she's been a master of her craft since day 1.
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