Nicki Minaj is set to release an album on June 15th called Queen. It has been almost four years since her album, and after a false start last year in the form of three songs released at the apex of her beef with Remy Ma, including “No Frauds,” she released two new songs in April. While “Barbie Tingz” is slowly fizzling out, “Chun-Li” is becoming one of Nicki’s biggest solo hits in years, peaking at No. 10 and holding strong inside the top 40.
Minaj has yet to release a tracklist or an album cover, though presumably “Barbie Tingz” and “Chun Li” will be on the record. Otherwise she appears to be holding things close to the vest: During her recent appearance on Saturday Night Live, her second performance was actually Playboi Carti’s “Poke It Out,” on which she is featured.
Here is the rest of what we know so far about Queen.
She has been working on the album since late last year
During a recent Zane Lowe interview, Minaj said she began working on the album in earnest in December 2017, though some songs were written as far back as a year and a half ago. Minaj also told Lowe that a documentary Apple Music will release a documentary about the making of Queen, so more about the process will eventually be revealed.
She has been working heavily with at least one relatively unknown producer
While Minaj has typically worked with big name producers like Frank Dukes, Murda Beatz, and Detail, both “Barbie Tingz” and “Chun-Li” were helmed by a producer named J. Reid. Reid, who is based in Atlanta, has previously worked with Southern rappers like Lil Boosie and Moneybagg Yo, but never with an artist of Minaj’s stature. According to an interview with XXL, Reid met Minaj through Brinx Billions, an artist in Minaj’s camp who also appeared on her 2o12 song “I Endorse These Strippers.” The two recorded in Miami and California in late 2017 and early 2018 as Queen began taking shape.
But she may be working with big name producers, too.
In March, Mike Will Made It tweeted a Mercedes commercial in which Minaj appears, and said that the two have “fire” on the way. Their history together is short but has been fruitful. Mike Will has only produced one solo song for Minaj—the second track off The Pinkprint, “I Lied”—but was behind several hits Minaj has been featured on, including Rae Sremmurd’s “Throw Some Mo” and Yo Gotti’s “Rake It Up.” Minaj also remixed the Sremm’s “Black Beatles” in 2017, releasing her version as “Black Barbies.”
And some big name singers, too.
The biggest hit Minaj has appeared on in years is “Side to Side,” the Ariana Grande single produced by Max Martin that hit No. 4 on the Hot 100 back in 2016. According to the obsessives at r/popheads, Ariana Grande and Nicki have been teasing a collaboration via their Instagram stories, though it’s unclear whether the collaboration is for Queen or Grande’s own upcoming album. Nicki also teased a “secret” with Madonna on the same red carpet where she announced the album title. As for her frequent collaborators in Young Money, Minaj told Zane Lowe that Drake and Lil Wayne “aren’t on the album yet.”
This post will be updated as we learn more.