In Defense of... Nicki Minaj's "Fly" feat. Rihanna
After releasing a few lackluster singles that relied on sampling and riding the coattails of artists with bigger stars than her own, Nicki Minaj discovered her voice in her Pink Friday album late last year.
When I reviewed one of her other tracks, I remarked that Nicki will probably represent all female emcess this decade, probably 'cause the music industry seems to treat female rappers as Highlanders where "there can be only one." Thus, any improvements Nicki's going to make are welcome. And Pink Friday was definitely an improvement over what we'd previously seen.
Her latest single "Fly" was my favorite track in the album -- and not just because my sweet love Rihanna sings the chorus (though it's a big factor). "Fly" sets a sensitive mood with a slow tempo and some solemn synthesizer chords. Following the cheery summer single "Super Bass," this track's release marks the change in the seasons.
Nicki's trademark manic delivery is a bit more subdued this time around. Nonetheless, we still get her New York accent that will forever remind me of the Batman villain Harley Quinn, and that's flair enough for me.
Meanwhile, the lyrics detail the sort of reluctance to fame that Eminem and Drake are known for. This theme works better for Nicki and not those two because, well, she's a woman. Unlike the guys, who felt they have to defend their manhood, Nicki doesn't beef up her vulnerability with macho cynicism. I can't imagine a guy saying the line "Cry my eyes out for days upon days" and not trying to growl it like Em does.
If nothing else, "Fly" shows us that Nicki is aware of her place in pop music. She might not be the top female artist now (guess who my pick is), but, to borrow her words, Nicki is where the top begins.