Nicki Minaj debuted her new album Queen on Friday in an impressively unpredictable broadcast on Apple’s Beats 1 radio show. Though scheduled to begin an hour before Queen hit streaming services, the rapper started the program 23 minutes late, “exhausted and delusional” due to lack of sleep. Over the next two hours, she was baffling one moment and uproarious the next, simultaneously “so emotional” about her album release and fiercely dismissive of her detractors — as far as album rollouts go, it was a fitting end to Minaj’s, which featured a series of singles that didn’t make the final tracklist, a series of delayed release dates and a Twitter poll to ask when the album should come out. In between playing the new songs, Minaj dispensed relationship advice and sex tips, promoted her upcoming tour with Future and her clout on social media. She also took the time to correct her fans’ spelling (accept vs. except) and pay homage to some rappers, especially older MCs who prioritize lyricism, while harshly (and hilariously) dissing others. Here are the five best takeaways from the broadcast:
Minaj needs to swear.
“We’re part of history,” Minaj assured her listeners during the pre-Queen portion of her Beats 1 broadcast. “This is the first show that Apple has let someone come up here and curse on because I told them my anxiety would skyrocket too much if I couldn’t fucking curse!”
Minaj excels at improvising.
Minaj was just two songs into her already-late album debut when, for unknown reasons, she was told she had to stop playing new songs on the air. “They’re asking me to stall, so I gotta stall,” she told her listeners, beginning a goofy freestyle. “If I got a ball, let’s fuck ’em all, I stand tall. I gotta stall, fuck ’em all.”
Then she started offering whispered previews of lines from Queen‘s third track: “I tried to fuck 50 for a powerful hour, but all that nigga want to do is talk Power for hours;” “I had to cancel DJ Khaled, nigga, we ain’t speaking/ Ain’t no fat nigga telling me what he ain’t eating.” Without the context of “Barbie Dreams,” these seemed were head-turning non sequiturs. Moments later, the album hit streaming services and she was cleared to play “Barbie Dreams,” which is filled with similar takedowns.
Minaj loves taking on her detractors.
During her Beats 1 broadcast, even Minaj’s praise turned suddenly into barbs aimed at unnamed MCs. “Eminem on ‘Majesty’ delivered what is going to become one of the best verses in rap’s history,” she said. “… We want rappers to push their pen. Everyone that I looked up to pushed their pen and made me excited. It felt like you had to be smart to learn to rap. Now, it’s a little bit different… it’s refreshing to work with rappers who rap.”
More to the point, later in the broadcast, Minaj said, “shout out to the people who show you fake love and try to always sabotage you.”
Minaj felt it was a good time to offer sex tips.
The second half of Queen doesn’t pack as much zing as the first, but Minaj’s interjections kept her listeners guessing. After playing the Mike Will Made-It-produced “Good Form,” she took a quick detour into sex counseling. “Some of you niggas, when y’all go down there, you need to assert yourself and take pride in what you’re doing,” she said. “Do it soft. Y’all need to treat the vagina the same way y’all want bitches to treat your little… With care and precision and skill… Nobody needs head from y’all. If you don’t have good form, don’t do it.”
Be careful asking Jay-Z for feedback.
After playing “LLC,” Minaj reminisced about the time that Jay-Z dropped by the studio to hear what she was working on. “I played him this song, he heard this song and was like, ‘you went hard on that third verse,'” she remembered. “I’m such a fucking perfectionist, because he said ‘third’ and didn’t say ‘on the record,’ I rewrote my whole fucking song. ‘Cause I said, ‘well why this nigga single out the third verse?’ That must mean he didn’t like the first verse! I need to show him!”
“It felt so great that someone who inspired me so much liked my work,” she added later, before once again reminding listeners to value lyricism. “But true story, I changed the whole fucking verse because he said ‘third verse’; that’s how hard I fucking go,” Minaj said. “That’s why, different caliber, different bar, different level — it’s important to me that when the greats hear these lyrics, they understand that time was spent.”