Nicki Minaj, Benny The Butcher, Blu & Nottz, And More Can’t-Miss Hip-Hop Releases

Yesterday was Friday, which means there are a ton of new releases to look forward to from some of your favorite Hip-Hop artists. To help

you unwind and enjoy the weekend, check out VIBE’s picks of songs and albums you should hear and add to your soundtrack of weekend festivities.

After persevering moments of turbulence throughout her career, Nicki Minaj is no stranger to adversity or doubt. Despite being the most successful and decorated female rap star of the new millennium, rocks have been throne at or near the throne in recent years, with some questioning whether her dominance has waned or if regressed musically. Those inquiries were tempered with her 2018 album Queen, a strong effort, but one that left a few stones unturned in some listeners’ eyes.

Five long years after that release, Nicki is back with her most immersive and cohesive Pink Friday 2, the sequel to her multiplatinum debut album. In the time since her previous effort, the Queens, N.Y. native’s personal life has developed exponentially. A proud wife and mother, Nicki has gained a new perspective on life and she shares it throughout the LP.

On the lulling opener “Are You Gone Already,” Nicki expresses elation over her bond with her three-year-old son Papa Bear while admitting the stresses that have come along with fame and fortune. “Rich, yes, but are you happy?/ All this guilt you carry is heavy,” she croons atop a plush composition crafted by Finneas, setting the album off on a reflective note.

Personal insights aside, Pink Friday 2 is filled with a seemingly endless stream of explosive offerings, among them collaborations with a murderer’s row of A-listers. Reuniting with Young Money members Lil Wayne (“RNB”) and Drake (“Needle”), Minaj connects with J. Cole on “Let Me Calm Down” before pairing with Lil Uzi Vert for “Everybody” and Future on “Nicki Hendrix.” Those blockbuster collaborations are countered by solo numbers like “Beep Beep,” “Fallin 4 U,” “Big Difference.” The “Notorious Thugs” inspired “Barbie Dangerous,” which finds the hitmaker hijacking The Notorious B.I.G.’s flow.

She professes her spirituality on “Blessings” and reflects on tumultuous beginnings on the finale number “Memories.” Nicki Minaj is silencing all critics with Pink Friday 2, which arguably crowns the artistic achievement of the Queen’s ongoing reign. – Preezy Brown