That Beyoncé’s brand is her perfection has been well-documented. Nicki Minaj cultivates a similarly shiny, flawless exterior (her Barbie alter-ego plays at subversion sometimes, but sexualizing Barbie is kind of the most obvious move you can make). This track feels like what you might expect when you combine the fully-embodied perfection of Queen Bey and the slightly grotesque but still flawless shiny exoskeleton veneer perfection of Nicki Minaj – a very boring song.
Nicki and Beyoncé check off lots of boxes here – remix-ready minimal winding synths, sexually explicit lyrics combined with a bland and empty gesture towards feminism (“Male or female, it makes no difference”), some instantly quotable wordplay that makes sense as long as you don’t think about it too much (“Gimme brain like NYU”), etc. Nicki has certainly already proven that she can play this game, which, as a black female rapper, is tough. She can release stuff like this. Whatever. But compared to the unabashed, radical rawness of someone like Azealia Banks (who has been feuding with Nicki since forever and whom, contrary to previous posts, I love), this song is truly meh. I would dance to it drunk at a bar. I would not do much else with it.