Nicki Minaj faces difficulty in turning down collaborations, accumulating over 140 features on various tracks in just seven years. Her prolific guest appearances have been notably showcased in the past two weeks, marked by the release of three videos bearing her unmistakable stamp.
What sets one Nicki Minaj guest verse apart from another? Firstly, her penchant for shade. Thriving on subtle, backhanded remarks, whether targeted at specific individuals or general reminders of her triumphant stance – a playful “I win, you lose” attitude. Secondly, cheekiness plays a vital role. Nicki ingeniously incorporates statements on other people’s tracks that might be considered unconventional, yet she does so with an endearing disregard that commands respect. Lastly, the element of weirdness is crucial. Nicki revels in characters, accents, fairy tales, and pop-culture references, skillfully deploying them individually or all at once to create a distinct and captivating guest-verse experience.
1. “Up All Night” by Drake (2010)
While “Make Me Proud” may be Nicki’s most renowned feature on a Drake track, the core of their connection lies in their shared loyalty to Lil Wayne’s Young Money label. In “Up All Night,” they celebrate their team allegiance in the first of many joyous reflections on their individual journeys.
2. “I Luv Dem Strippers” by 2 Chainz (2012)
Collaborating with 2 Chainz, Nicki infuses her verse on this stripper-themed anthem with raw energy and playful flair. Her unabashed flow showcases her talent for uninhibited brilliance, starting with a declaration of 2 Chainz’s craziness and concluding with a nod to The Little Engine That Could—a quintessential Nicki moment of hater-resistant whimsy.
3. “Animales” by Romeo Santos (2014)
Nicki’s versatility shines as she transcends genre boundaries on Romeo Santos’s bachata track. Seamlessly blending rapping and singing, they, both New York City natives, seduce listeners with angelic vocals and sweet Spanglish.
4. “Y.U. Mad” by Birdman (2011)
Nicki finds her element rapping alongside mentor Weezy in “Y.U. Mad.” Her subtle, effortless aggression and clever wordplay contribute to the song’s appeal, coupled with a memorable shade line aimed at her detractors.
5. “My Chick Bad” by Ludacris (2010)
Nicki, along with Ludacris, is credited for pioneering #hashtagrapping—emphasizing words at the end of lines before hashtags became a trend. Her verse exudes fierce confidence, boasting a blend of slick wordplay, humor, and a chilling delivery referencing “Nightmare on Elm Street.”
6. “Bang Bang” by Jessie J (2014)
Described as the new “Lady Marmalade,” “Bang Bang” sees Nicki swooping in via helicopter to deliver a dynamic verse. Starting with a casual mention of her own moscato brand, she adds a supercharged element to the song’s energy.
7. “Flawless (Remix)” by Beyoncé (2014)
Nicki joins forces with Beyoncé on the “Flawless” remix, making a memorable impact with lines like “we A-listers / we paid sisters” and a nod to her famous “Monster” verse. The collaboration marked a powerful moment in both artists’ careers.
8. “Dance A$$ (Remix)” by Big Sean (2011)
Nicki, crowned the queen of butt songs, demonstrates her mastery in crafting puns and humor in this remix. Her ability to seamlessly weave couture shade into the verse showcases her unique talent.
9. “I’m Out” by Ciara (2013)
“I’m Out” stands as a self-empowerment anthem, featuring Ciara and Nicki radiating confidence. The collaboration highlights Nicki’s skill in partnering with other female artists, with both delivering powerful performances without overshadowing each other.
10. “Lil’ Freak” by Usher (2010)
Usher and Nicki’s 2010 collaboration creates a perfect blend for bumping booties and shoulders. Nicki’s playful reference to Santa and the incorporation of a seamless Everybody Loves Raymond reference showcase her versatility.
11. “‘Til the World Ends (Remix)” by Britney Spears (2011)
In this apocalyptic remix, Nicki leads the survivors of a zombie wasteland with confidence and cockiness. The unexpected transformation into a zombie with a monstrous affected accent adds a captivating element to her performance.
12. “Beauty and the Beat” by Justin Bieber (2012)
Nicki’s contribution to this pop track demonstrates her ability to deliver Radio Disney-friendly rhymes without sacrificing her sharp wit. Her playful take on pop music and her own image showcases her versatility and sense of humor.
13. “Bottoms Up” by Trey Songz (2010)
In “Bottoms Up,” Nicki contributes a verse with a saltier-than-the-rim-of-a-margarita-glass attitude. Her rapid-fire rhymes and an Anna Nicole Smith baby voice imitation add layers of complexity to the song, making it a standout club jam.
14. “5 Star (Remix)” by Yo Gotti (2009)
Closing the song with cinematic flair, Nicki’s verse in the remix gives the impression that the track was waiting for her arrival. Her demented Barbie persona shines, and the recurring line about being the “five-star bitch” becomes a memorable motif in her career.
15. “Monster” by Kanye West (2010)
Undoubtedly a classic in hip-hop history, Nicki’s verse on “Monster” encapsulates all her trademarks. Her portrayal as hip-hop’s leading character actress takes center stage as she runs off the deep end with the song’s title, outshining fellow heavyweights Jay Z, Rick Ross, and Kanye himself. It’s a moment where the queen conquers.