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The New Nicki Minaj Album Serves as an Important Reminder to Put Family First


On December 8, 2023, the loyal and ravenous Barbz were finally treated to Nicki Minaj’s long awaited fifth studio album - Pink Friday 2.

And, true to Royal expectations, only one of the tracks was a single the artist had released in 2022.



However, Pink Friday 2 did not have the same “happy-go-lucky” vibe as any of the other Pink Friday branded albums (this is the fourth album Minaj has released under the Pink Friday branding.)





Pink Friday (the original) was released on 11/22/2010, and managed to stand out because it was rife with songs about being empowered and not letting people stand in your way, without any of the “orgasm Olympics” lyrics that are becoming expected in mainstream hip-hop (and music in general) today. 



In comparison, Pink Friday 2 gives us a look into how Minaj has transformed over the years, showcasing her most vulnerable and most aggressive alter egos throughout the album.




Because, as we all know, Nicki Minaj is the queen of alter egos.


From (the now retired) Harajuku Barbie we met in the early days of Minaj’s career, to the infamous Roman Zolanski, and the slew of “bad guy” alter egos Minaj has created to defend herself from haters, Nicki Minaj, undoubtedly, employs a lost art form in her craft. 




The culture had been undeniably star stricken when Pink Friday came out and hip-hop received an album told from the perspective of a “Harajuku Barbie,” reminding the hard hip-hop landscape that women can wear frilly dresses with lace and petticoats while also spitting fire bars.





But Minaj proved that the Harajuku Barbie character is 100% retired when she released this new album.



The Barbz were foaming at the mouths for another Popnika or Harajuku Barbie album, dying for the now long gone era of girlies being girlies, being creative at it, and standing out for it; the Katy/Nicki/Gaga era of 2008 - 2013.



But they will never get that album now that we, as a culture, have moved so far away from those seemingly more care-free days.





Instead, fans were served a 22 track album of Onika, Roman, Chun-Li, and Ruby Da Sleeze. 





Apparently Minaj has been through quite the emotional roller coaster ride over the last few years and needed to express that through her work. 



But, I definitely wasn’t expecting a “Pink Print Part II”, and I don’t think the Barbz were either. 




(The Pink Print was Minaj’s first album where she really opened up about her relationship struggles and showed the world a more vulnerable side of herself, even forgoing the wild wigs for a more natural look.)





Since 2019, Minaj went into retirement, came out of retirement, had her first child, lost her father, navigated a “hate train” resurgence, and had to battle false accusations against her baby daddy. 



That is a lot to go through in a considerably short amount of time. 




However, Minaj was always really proud of how Pink Friday opened with “I am the Best,” which she described as her theme song or anthem for the album. 

So I really can’t overlook the fact that the first track on Pink Friday 2 is “Are You Gone Already.”



“Are You Gone Already,” is a very bittersweet, tear jerking song that samples Billie Eilish’s vocals for the chorus and even begins with some adorable noises of Minaj’s son cooing at her.






On the surface, the song explores Minaj’s grief over losing her father before he could meet her son.


But, this is also the woman who wrote an entire song to the music industry under the guise of a love song, so I can’t help but feel like the artist is grieving more than one relationship here.


The opening track’s second verse is where I noticed the possible switch from her talking to her deceased father to her (former) partner. 


The line:

“Today is 12/3/23

Your baby’s three

He’s the best Onika”


Really strikes a cord in my brain. I feel like this would be worded differently if it were addressed towards her father. 



Sure, maybe the word “grandson” or “grandbaby” would screw up the flow of the verse… but why not say, “MY baby’s three, he’s the best Onika”…?





As the album progresses, the next couple of tracks are party bangers more on point with what the Barbz were likely expecting from this album.



However…. a total of 8 of the 22 tracks are melancholy songs about learning relationship lessons and moving forward. 

(I told my mom that I felt like 89% of the album was sad, but that’s only 36% of the album dedicated to relationship problems… lol, “only”)


So, let's breakdown the rest of the album:


 9 of the tracks seem like “pump you up tracks,” but they are incredibly negative and low vibe, going for the throats of her enemies rather than lifting anybody up. 

(41% of the album)




 And the other 5 songs are sex songs that my mom said she wouldn’t want my 8 year old sister hearing, and I agree. (23% of the album)






Comparing that to the Pink Friday of 2010, which boasted songs like “I am the Best,” “Fly,” “Blazin’,” and “Last Chance,” it was almost a disservice, both to the fans and to her work, to call this new album Pink Friday 2.



Yes, Pink Friday gave us a glimpse into the delicate mind of Minaj with songs like “Save Me,” “Right Thru Me,” and “Here I Am,” but they were from a different lane of vulnerability.


The vulnerable songs on Pink Friday (1) still seemed to have the intention of lifting herself and other people up, learning lessons and growing from them, and admitting when you're wrong so that you don't have to relive your mistakes. 


These new songs on Pink Friday 2 seem to have an air of, "I'm right, you're wrong, and you can't tell me otherwise."



But, that’s not even why we’re here today.


Over the last few years, Nicki Minaj and her husband, Kenneth Petty, have “broken the internet” so to speak with IG pictures and videos of the fam, faming it up, and all the Barbz turned to these images as the picture of happiness. 




Yet, Pink Friday 2 contains no love songs.

(One might argue that track 5, “Fallin 4 U,” is a love song, but I hear it as more of a rebound song. Even if the lyrics are about how she and Kenneth met rather than about her moving on, the vibe of it is weird compared to Pink Friday (1)’s “Super Bass,” “Your Love,” or  even “Right By My Side” from Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded.)



Honestly, now that I think about it, Minaj has not released any ooey gooey love songs since “Your Love.”


All the other “love” songs she has released since then are all either about treating her man right in the bedroom, or telling her man she loves him in spite of how often they fight.




But, when Minaj announced her union with Petty and the arrival of their son, Papa Bear, the Barbz all cheered for our sister/auntie/“mother” because it seemed that after a long stream of toxic and abusive relationships, the Queen had finally found her King.





But then, late 2022 I noticed that when Minaj went to the MET Gala, no pictures of her with Petty were posted. 



Instead, the one pic she posted with anyone else was of her and the designer of her dress (which truly looks like her and some random white guy as arm candy)…




This is when I began to quietly wonder to myself if the couple was on the outs or if Petty was just laying low because of the false rape accusations against him that had finally been cleared up around the same time.



(*this a-wad didn't even design Minaj's dress properly. She reported at least one near-wardrobe malfunction because those cups on her bodice were SIGNIFICANTLY too small.)


Up until that point, Petty seemed wildly supportive of Minaj.


They were always seen together, even when she was surprising fans with “impromptu” guest appearances at concerts while she was getting back into her work mode.



The couple was so enamored that Minaj even pulled a "Queen Bey" by putting Petty in the music videos for "Megatron," Megan thee Stallion's "Hot Girl Summer," and Coi Leray's "Blick, Blick."




Yet, the release of this new album begs the question:


Did the toxic Barbz break up an otherwise happy union by begging Minaj to come out of retirement?



In 2020, Minaj had been exuberant about this new stage in her life of settling down.

 


She had been on hiatus for a while and didn’t really seem too worried about fighting tooth and nail for the queen status she’d already earned for herself. 



“Seeing Green,” a new single released on the Beam Me Up Scotty mixtape re-release in 2021, even went so far as to explain her new, drama-free life with the line:



“Big ass yard, just so Papa Bear can frolic”...





But the toxic Barbz were “DYING” from waiting for the next Nicki album and BEGGED her to come out of retirement,


even though we could have just enjoyed a drama-free era of Minaj’s re-released mixtapes, greatest hits albums, and a sprinkling of new singles. 




So, instead of sticking to her guns and officially retiring to move on to the next chapter of life, Minaj started working her (artificially enhanced) ass off again.



Suddenly, instead of enjoying the family life she had worked so hard to build up, there was a noticeable shift in Minaj’s priorities and the Barbz got what they wanted: new music, new videos, and new behind the scenes pics.



Minaj’s “re-initiation” into the mainstream culture also came with innumerable magazine covers acknowledging her Queen status, modeling shoots, and all the awards, accolades and flowers that the Barbz felt she had been owed for at least the last 10 years, if not longer.





The woman battled the weird tactics employed by the “fake Barbz” of the hip-hop industry by teaming up with other, worthy, female rappers to do the iconic “Likkle Miss” and “SFG” remixes.



She managed to get herself “un-blackballed” from radio and even the Grammys.



She started her own record label, began signing artists and released a couple of singles on that label.



But for what?



Just to make millions of strangers happy?


(Though I could be entirely wrong)

What I see here is a story of a woman who just wanted to be loved and treated well, but let go of that reality as soon as it was within her grasp.



Nicki Minaj is an artist who has been very vocal about how much she controls her creative process, and she chose to start this new album off with “Are You Gone Already,” which means that the album has a very remorseful and guilty “theme song,” if we take a step back and look at it the same way Minaj herself looked at the first track on Pink Friday (1).



The new album also contains no tracks about what Minaj cherishes about being a mother.




I can't help but find this small detail to be overwhelmingly alarming because a couple years ago, when Minaj started doing interviews again, she cited motherhood as being an event so life changing that she could no longer bring herself to write some of the raunchier lyrics that had been a part of her signature style when she first started rapping.


(Something I can’t even believe she said a couple of years ago because of how raunchy her lyrics have become since then )




At the end of the day, I do not know Kenneth or Onika personally.

(Lol, like that needed to be said.)

But, my heart does go out to Petty.


The two knew each other in high school and were separated because of life circumstances.


Then, they managed to make their way back to each other, like a storybook romance, keeping as much of their lives together as private as possible.



But, sadly, every little detail that the masses could squeeze out of her was made public.




In track 6, “Let Me Calm Down” (feat J. Cole), Minaj really exposes it all (in my opinion) right there in verse one.



She says:

“Pull off and I always hit 'em

He actin' like I ain't always with him

My heart sayin' I love him while I'm screamin' that I hate him

And ain't no more debatin', this time, it's a ultimatum

I never forgot where I was at the first day I met him

Yeah, it was love at first sight, but I ain't never sweat him

I knew if it was meant to be that one day I would let him

Twenty years later, them decisions, I don't regret them

Just wish you would give me space when I really need it

To be alone in my zone when I'm really heated

Just 'cause I am quiet, don't mean you're defeated

Wish you ain't need me to feel like you're completed

Don't wanna say somethin' mean when I don't mean it”



In this track, Minaj exposes herself for not having dealt with her own personal issues. 


She is STILL reacting violently to conflict within her relationships, regardless of who she is with, and she is dismissive of her partner’s feelings of being a secondary priority. 



This song devastatingly reminds me of what I was going through a couple of years ago when I started spending all my free time recording and editing YouTube videos and stopped specifically making time in my schedule for Pumpkin.



The line:

“He actin' like I ain't always with him

My heart sayin' I love him while I'm screamin' that I hate him”


Breaks my heart, not for Minaj, but for Petty. 



He is expressing his frustrations with not getting the attention he deserves from his partner and he is met with aggression:



“My heart sayin' I love him while I'm screamin' that I hate him”




When you are stuck in an “ego space,” you cannot give any attention to the people around you because “ego” only cares about the self in the most selfish way possible.



And then your ill-mind starts saying things like, “I hate him, he never lets me do what I want to do,” when really the truth of the matter is that you are ALWAYS doing what you want to do and putting your partner's needs on the back burner.




Now, keep in mind, this is all entirely speculation.


There are no media confirmed reports of the couple splitting up, and in an US Weekly article in November of 2023, Minaj was talking about the benefits of being married to someone she’s known since before she was “Nicki Minaj,” (you can read the Nicki/Kenneth relationship timeline here)



But, it would actually be weirder to me if their relationship is still intact. 


Either she is really good at keeping her personal life personal and shaping the public narrative she would prefer; or she wrote an album of fiction and/or an album to past lovers — which would be extra cringy. 



When I was going through this myself, I had been promised a publishing deal and a book tour and was daydreaming about NOT BEING HOME FOR MONTHS AT A TIME.


(The weirdest, most fucked up part of that, yet the biggest blessing in disguise, was that I was actually being scammed and none of those offers were real. I managed to come to the decision that I didn’t want to voluntarily split myself from my family without truly having anything at stake.)


And the universe had to beat the reality of it into my skull: 




You have two options, put family first or put your career first. You cannot do both.



It took a lot of hard work for me to separate myself from my workaholism, and now I simply log my hours in a planner so I have a written record of how much creative work I have done every week.



It’s really easy to take three days off for junk food and a movie marathon when I can see that I’ve already put x-amount of hours into my craft.


But in Nicki’s world, I don’t think she ever gave that to her partner. 


Based on the lyrics in this album (and only based on that), I think Minaj might be so trapped in her own main character energy that she kinda thought of Petty as a prop or an accessory.



Because of Minaj’s public status, Petty not only had to endure false rape accusations, but also had all of his personal business paraded up and down the internet as the Barbz and the general public passed their own judgments on the situation.


Now, just put yourself in his shoes, and imagine that you’ve finally built a life with the woman you love, but now you’re going through pure hell because of who you married, and the public is unwilling to respect that privacy while your wife keeps posting pictures of you and your kid to social media.



That, in and of itself, all just seems maddening. 



Then, to top it all off, the woman who was allegedly dedicated to building a happy life with their newborn son decides she needs to be in the limelight again?!?



Yeah, I would leave too.





And, given the recent landscape of abusive fans where someone as big as Taylor Swift immediately edited her “Anti Hero” music video, when she got backlash from her own toxic fandom;

I could totally see Minaj being pressured into making more music by the toxic Barbz who feel like they are owed something from their favorite artist, instead of holding steady in her decision to retire.




To go from, “I’ve done all I wanted to and can relax now,” to “I need to build up the same momentum I had 10+ years ago,” is quite the polarizing shift and is bound to burn some bridges in the process.



Having gone through a very minor version of this myself, I am very sad for my “friend.”



Nicki Minaj’s music and position as a role model helped me through the darkest of my days.



But, I don’t even recognize her as the same person anymore. 



The Nicki Minaj that I fell in love with was still in touch with her Harajuku Barbie persona, and was really just concerned about uplifting other people and letting underprivileged children know that they can make their dreams come true too...


But, Harajuku Barbie is gone now.


Long gone…


She’s on the same Bermudan island as Marilyn Monroe, Kurt Cobain, Michael Jackson, and 2Pac.


We will never see her again.




What has been left in her wake is a manifestation of the dark vibes that have been thrown at her over the years.


No longer interested in uplifting those around her, Nicki Minaj has been reduced to someone always on the defensive who lashes out at the world in order to protect the most vulnerable sides of herself.



And this manifestation has filled her life with sadness.

(At least, I do not hear any happy vibes in her lyrics these days.)