Last night Nicki Minaj hopped on Instagram Live shortly before midnight to introduce the new music she’s been teasing all week. I was expecting the release of a new single, but she actually announced that she’d be making her critically acclaimed 2009 mixtape, Beam Me Up Scotty, available on streaming services for the first time. The re-release also includes three new songs — one of them with Drake and Lil Wayne. The gang is back together again!
Whether by chance or an orchestrated promo stunt, Drake happened to be in the comments section of Nicki’s Live before she invited him to join her and talk up their new record together. There’s always something really special when two titans come together, but this was the friendliest we’ve gotten to see Nicki and Drake in some years after ups and downs in their friendship. It was like watching them back in 2009 when they were the King and Queen of Young Money Records. When Drake hopped on the Live last night, Nicki introduced him as the G.O.A.T. and he couldn’t help but sing the Queen of Rap’s praises, acknowledging her taking a hiatus to focus on motherhood while begging her to bring her talents back to rap, because we miss her.
Nicki revealed there was a moment recently when she was suffering from serious writer’s block and when she reached out to Drake asking him to send her instrumentals for new material, he sent over a record which she says cured any block she was experiencing. That track is called “Seeing Green” and features Drake as well as their mentor Lil Wayne. It’s a fitting addition to the Beam Me Up Scotty re-release because Old Nicki’s really rapping on that track. The lyricism and delivery is present in the same way as it was during her mixtape days. It’s as if she’s positioning this project as a palette cleanser to remind people she’s still got it, as she works on her next album — which she says is coming very soon.
Earlier this week, I wrote about how one of the reasons Nicki’s been on hiatus for so long is because she needed to give people a chance to miss her, after being overly saturated for years because of her omnipresence in the music industry, but also the drama and the press. And I think returning with new music that feels rooted in the very moment many fans developed their emotional connection to you is nothing but smart. I was anticipating she would drop the first single from her next album, but this is more calculated. Dropping “Seeing Green” and the solo song “Fractions”, which also finds Nicki pushing her pen creatively, within this mixtape makes it feel like her team isn’t too hungry for her to return to the charts immediately. They’re playing a longer game which involves building her foundation back up. Nicki may, quite possibly, need time to fall in love with her own artistry all over again in the same way we’re being given a chance to.
The power of Drake cannot be ignored here either. A strong collaboration with the man Billboard just named Artist of the Decade is worth its weight in gold. One of the things that frustrated me most about Drake and Nicki’s years of distance and arguments was that Nicki was losing out on the power of Drake’s platform as he was becoming a megastar. Friends promote other friends’ songs on their Instagram Stories or at least retweet them when they drop a new song, but they weren’t friends at the time, so she didn’t get those bonuses. Just look at the numbers Drake and Nicki’s chat on IG pulled last night. They had 800K people watching them live. A lot of them, like myself, were just happy to see “Dricki” back together again.
For more Dricki vibes, may I suggest streaming the “Best I Ever Had” (Remix)? It was one of the original tracks on the Beam Me Up Scotty mixtape in 2009, where Nicki provided a woman’s perspective on one of Drake’s first hits. It’s also just fun to hear how much his vocals have changed.