Nicki Minaj Returns With an Emotional New Single

Slate's Culture Blog
May 21 2014 10:02 AM

Nicki Minaj Returns With an Emotional New Single

491929181-recording-artist-nicki-minaj-performs-onstage-at-power
Hear the unexpected first single from Nicki Minaj's upcoming album.

Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

When asked earlier this year if Nicki Minaj’s upcoming third album, The Pink Print, would resemble the pop-leaning juggernauts from her previous album—“Super Bass” and “Starships”—she responded with a resounding: “Hell no.” That, coupled with her recent toned-down image and hard-hitting street tracks like “Lookin’ Ass” and “Chi-Raq,” suggested her next album might be a return to the more hip-hop roots of her early mixtapes—the ones that first caught Lil Wayne’s attention. But Minaj is a chameleon, and the album’s first single, “Pills N Potions,” released today, sounds like yet another pop win for the artist and her most personal single yet.

The Dr. Luke-produced song opens with a simple drum beat over which Minaj sings, “Pills and potions, we’re overdosing” in an echoed, cooing tone. But as it moves towards its infectious hook, adding a sweeping piano and violin arrangement, “Pills N Potions” becomes an emotional, introspective pop ballad with instant hit potential. And Minaj does rap on the track—“Even though you out here lookin’ so ungrateful/ I’ma keep it movin’, be classy and graceful”—but in a far more tame manner than she’s deployed on other tracks this year. Sonically, the song recalls the more subdued singles from her first album—“Moment 4 Life” and “Your Love”—which could mean she’ll be going back to basics on The Pink Print. And that would be a good thing.

Dee Lockett is Slate's editorial assistant for culture.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

The Ludicrous Claims You’ll Hear at This Company’s “Egg Freezing Parties”

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM Going Private To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 1 2014 10:49 AM James Meredith, Determined to Enroll at Ole Miss, Declares His Purpose in a 1961 Letter
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 10:44 AM Everyone’s Favorite Bob’s Burgers Character Gets a Remix You Can Dance to
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 10:27 AM 3,000 French Scientists Are Marching to Demand More Research Funding
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 7:30 AM Say Hello to Our Quasi-Moon, 2014 OL339
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.