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Nicki Minaj Deliberately Avoided Trap Production On ‘Queen’

She feels the sound has reached a saturation point.

In a recent interview with Elle, Nicki Minaj discussed the sound of her new record Queen and her focus on making music outside the trap realm.

“It has to be ’80s,” she reportedly told producer J. Reid when they began working on the album. “It has to be boom bap. I don’t want to do no trap shit ’cause everybody’s doing that shit.”

Though tracks like “Rich Sex” and “Hard White” do use some trap flourishes like triplet hi-hats, 808 bass, and autotune, there are several tracks on Queen that take inspiration from other subgenres.

“Coco Chanel” with Foxy Brown uses a popular Jamaican riddim called “Unfinished Business.” On “Barbie Dreams,” she does her own version of The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Just Playing (Dreams),” throwing playful jabs at a slew of male MCs.

In her Elle interview, Minaj talked about feeling an obligation to subvert current trends.

I feel like true icons shift music, uplift music, switch music, have the balls to take a chance. The things that people do come so easy to me. I could do it in my sleep. But I’m such a perfectionist that when something is too easy to me, I actually feel guilty. It would’ve been so easy to listen to all the trap music out there right now and say, ‘Let me just copy this.‘ But I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself.

She specifically lamented rappers from her hometown of New York using sounds that she felt were more emblematic of southern hip-hop.

“The truth of the matter is, trap has taken over so much that even our New York rappers are doing nothing but trap songs, because they feel that that’s the way to make it,” she said. “They’re rapping like people from down south.”

The interview took place while Nicki was in the studio working on Queen, her first solo album in four years. In late 2016, Genius broke down her career arc from her beginnings in Off-Broadway theater to her rise to the top of the charts.

Read all the lyrics to Queen and the rest of Nicki Minaj’s discography on Genius now.