Pink Friday“Pink Friday (Deluxe Version)” by Nicki Minaj (A) 2010

Minaj claims Jay-Z as one of her main influences, and the obsession with money and fame is certainly there, though her flow and wordplay don’t feel as effortless as his do. This turns out to be moot, however, since it quickly becomes apparent that her speciality lies more in the way of a possessed-sounding rhythmic momentum and the human element she brings to her tales of wealth and glory. She beats Eminem at his own game, puts her competition in its place and even reverses the traditional gender roles of hero and damsel-in-distress on “Your Love” (“‘S’ on my chest ‘cause I’m ready to save him”). The mostly-electro production has some nice touches such as the sparse “Did It On’em” and the distorted synths of “Here I Am” and the hooks are impeccably well-crafted. There are a couple weak moments, but her fierce attitude and seemingly limitless energy even redeems “Moment 4 Life” which might otherwise be bogged down by Drake’s heavy-handed guest verse. Several plays in and it still sounds as good as Jay’s own “Reasonable Doubt” to me, if not better (the deluxe version is recommended for her female-fan thank-you “Girls Fall Like Dominoes” and “Super Bass”, because why wouldn’t you want to own one of her best singles?).


“D.A.I.S.Y. Rage EP” by Kitty (A-) 2013
While many female rappers attempt to prove their mettle by challenging hip-hop’s largely male kingpins, Kitty seems utterly uninterested in macho bullshit. She brings a self-conscious, self-aware and distinctly feminine persona to the genre which I urge you to welcome with open arms. Her raps about pissing her pants, lying to her mom and being allergic to everything prove endearing upon repeated listens, and her girlish voice only adds to the charm. Often she plays dumb only to reveal her underlying intelligence and dark wit. Clever wordplay like “Why you wanna fuckin’ undercut me like I’m Skrillex’s hair?” doesn’t hurt either. And dig that dream-pop electro production!


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