Replaying: 'Feeling Myself'
The Pinkprint, Nicki Minaj’s third LP, released 7 singles (“Pills N Potions,” “Anaconda,” “Only,” “Bed of Lies,” “Truffle Butter,” “The Night Is Still Young,” “Trini Dem Girls,” respectively). This boggles my mind. First of all, seven singles is excessive, even more so considering their from a rapper who prides herself on chart performance, but only one cracked the top ten. (Anaconda peaked at #2, but clearly should’ve gone #1.) The final single, Trini Dem Girls which features Lunchmoney Lewis, didn’t chart and doesn’t even have a wikipedia page (lol).
Her new album ~hopefully~ drops next week, nearly three years after the release of The Pinkprint, so it’s time to talk about the its greatest deep cut, arguably one of the greatest deep cuts. The sequel to “***Flawless (Remix)” (which was the number 1 song of 2014 according to Time): "Feeling Myself (feat. Beyonce)".
I love (loooooove) Nicki Minaj, and she herself acknowledges that sometimes she is left in the lurch of the men she collaborates with. It’s an easy get for male rappers to feature Minaj to increase airplay and streaming numbers but on the flipside, Minaj’s solo work goes underappreciated on radio. This pattern also bleeds into Minaj’s own discography. During “Only,” a track off The Pinkprint, I go in during Minaj’s opening verse and immediately change it once Lil Wayne or Chris Brown pick it up. Okay, sometimes I stick through it for Drake’s verse — only sometimes, though. Ditto for "Truffle Butter": Lil Wayne’s verse is honestly just gross, and I like to think I have a relatively high tolerance for gross sex stuff but damn. Additionally, it wasn’t until recently I was able to fully appreciate Minaj’s bars in “Buy a Heart” and “Big Daddy” (features with ex Meek Mill) because I so rarely stuck around through Mill’s opening verses. I have since had a change of heart regarding Mill’s contribution to “Buy a Heart.”
To bring us back to 2017 for a moment, two of Minaj’s #ThreePackfromParis, “No Frauds” and “Changed It,” renew the tendency: the former featuring Lil Wayne and Drake, the latter featuring only Wayne. On both tracks Minaj’s bars are solid. Both verses are worth a rewind, a replay and a revisit whenever the thought or opportunity presents itself, but the tracks lose their energy without Minaj at the helm. “No Frauds,” specifically because it was released as a response diss track to Remy Ma’s 5-minute, bars-loaded “Shether.” While “No Frauds” flexes Minaj’s A-list status, it fails to show her as a master MC. The lyric “ ‘Back to Back’? / Oh you mean back to whack?” rings slightly false seeing that Drake bodied Meek on “Back to Back,” Nicki got a few good shots in on “No Frauds” but Rem slaughtered Minaj on “Shether,” as far as bars go.
But, nonetheless, since the release of #ThreePackfromParis, Minaj has consistently been featured on some of hip hop’s hottest tracks of 2017. Everyone can agree that “Rake It Up” would be nothing without Minaj. Ditto with “Swish Swish.”
Okay, I have digressed. Back to the reason we are here: “Feeling Myself (feat. Beyonce)”. It’s the fifth track from the rapper’s third album and it has received an appalling lack of attention and appreciation from radio, awards show and, probably, you. (Until now.)
First and foremost, this track brings together the Queen of Rap and the Queen on the Universe, both of whom aren’t afraid to own and flaunt that status they have reached. While the argument that Beyonce is underutilized on the track could be fair: both women use to track to feel themselves by flexing their accomplishments. B stanks, “Changed the game when that digital dropped / Know where you was when that digital popped / I stopped the world.”
But it’s Nicki who shines brightest, closing out the song she spits, “Just on this song alone, bitch is on her fourth flow.” Minaj is, and has been, one of the top MCs and “Feeling Myself” is a testament. 3 verses, 4 flows and back-up from the biggest star in music. Not to mention she drops some of her hardest bars of her career. Listening to the song and looking up the lyrics for examples is fruitless because the entire song slaps. EVERY. VERSE. POPS. OFF.
If you don’t believe me here are the worst lines of each verse:
Fuck y’all I tried.
Moving on: the music video. Remember when Nicki tweeted her displeasure that Anaconda (egregiously) wasn’t nominated for video of the year? But the most absurd snub went largely unnoticed: Why did “Feeling Myself” fail to pull a single nomination? Sure, it was a Tidal exclusive, but I don’t think that disqualifies it. (I don’t know, I haven’t read the VMA rule book because I am too busy stanning these women on Twitter.)
Remember when Taylor Swift assembled her “girl squad” for the Bad Blood video? Or when Madonna followed-up by digitally placing Kanye, Beyonce and Minaj in the “Bitch I’m Madonna” video alongside real-life appearances by Alexander Wang and Diplo? Minaj and Beyonce — all in their lonesome — blow both of those groups out of the water, the industry and galaxy all on their own.
I say this a human who can hear and see, not as a stan, but every frame in this video is a keeper. I’m trying to pick the highlights out but they’re ubiquitous. The two baddest bitches become the two coolest just outside of the Coachella’s city limits. It’s hard to tell whether they’re messin’ around instead of going to the festival or throwing a dope after-party but it looks like a healthy mix of both.
The outfits are sick. Beyonce rocks a Chicago Bulls bathing suit, Nicki rocks a Moschino one-piece; Fur coats in blow-up pools; Nicki reps the double sports-bra; and of course, the mesh “PERVERT” tee. Also, Beyonce is the only person who looks good in a bucket hat. The video is similar to Beyonce’s “7/11” in its casual nature: the MC and singer just hanging, stunting, in their amazing dream Airbnb booking for their Coachella weekend.
The video even goes as far as showing a (hopefully) candid moment the two share backstage at the festival sharing gum. The product placement is chosen-wisely and playfully placed: a fridge full of Ace of Spades and Myxx Moscato, empty bottles of the former floating in the pool and hot tub, and the pair eat “#2 with Mac sauce” on a bounce house while Nicki holds her Myxx.
It’s 3 minutes and 45 second of straight flexing. Their skills, their brands, their accomplishments. They’re well, feeling themselves.