NICKI MINAJ - Beam Me up Scotty

Like it or not, but please admit the following: in the 2010s, Nicki Minaj is the number one female rapper. The Trinidadian New-Yorker inherited everything from the ladies who paved her way: she has Lil' Kim, Foxy Brown or Trina's gift of the gab, and the same explicit lyrics or posture; she has Missy Elliott's eccentricity and creativity, both visually and musically. And in addition, she knows how to play with her physique, which is a critical asset, in a world still requiring this from female artists. Last but not least, she knows how to rap, and her ease with the mic puts her on par with – or even above – most of her competitors, either men or women.

NICKI MINAJ - Beam Me up Scotty

Trap-A-Holics :: 2009 :: download mixtape

Those still doubtful about her skills should revisit Nicki's mixtapes, and more precisely the turning point of her career: Beam Me up Scotty. By then, in 2009, Onika Maraj was no longer unknown. For two years, she had been Lil Wayne's protégée, who had spotted her on the Brooklyn Dirty Money label, and invited her on his Da Drought 3 mixtape. In parallel, she had made a name for herself with Playtime Is Over (2007) and Sucka Free (2008), where featured important rappers like Gucci Mane. With Beam Me up Scotty, though, she would strengthen her fame and status. It would be her first step toward the commercial success, due to "I Get Crazy", a single with Lil Wayne, and more generally, to the quality of the project.

Beam Me up Scotty, though, was a true mixtape. Mixed by DJ Holiday, it was full of slogans and interludes, and it was all rambling and eclectic. The future pop star started with the minimalist and frantic "I Get Crazy" and "Itty Bitty Piggy", both made for clubs. She turned R&B with "Kill Da DJ", "Mind on My Money", "Go Hard", "Handstand" and "Envy", and appropriated Drake's marshmallow hit single, "Best I Ever Had". With Jae Millz and Gudda Gudda, she delivered a weird electronic track, "Five-O". She used anachronistic soul music samples on "Can't Anybody Hear Me" and "Still I Rise", but also Auto-Tune on "I Feel Free", techno dancehall sounds with "Beam Me up Scotty", and some guitar in her duets with Lil Wayne – remember, we were in the middle of his rock moment. And when she collaborated with Gucci Mane, she used his own trap music, like with the catchy "Easy".

It was all over the place, but Nicki Minaj's skills were obvious. Her raps could go in any way. She was comfortable with both slow or quick tempos, and she had a knack for insolent punchlines. Her subject matters, actually, were the gangsta trinity, drug, money and sex, plus macho clichés she claimed and turned to her benefit, like her hypersexual posture or the passion for shopping she shared with "Shopaholic". Perfectly at ease in the rap game, Nicki Minaj introduced herself as an independent feminine figure, the ultimate bad bitch of the XXIst century.

In the end, it's not gonna be about my talent, you know. It's not gonna be about my connections, it's not gonna be about my looks. It's gonna be about who wants it the most, and... I want it the most.

As she said it by the beginning of the mixtape, Nicki Minaj wanted it the most. She was hungry. And after this mixtape, she would continue to progress, she would even become huge. She would also comply with this rule – this malediction – according to which female rappers need to turn pop or R&B. Some of her albums would be good, all would have great tracks. But none would be on par with Beam Me Up Scotty, arguably her best project, if the Nicki you like is Nicki the rapper.

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