By Kevin McGarry
Nicki Minaj is the Cindy Sherman of rap. Since making a splash recreating Lil’ Kim’s infamous bikini-squat pose for the cover of her 2008 mixtape “Sucka Free,” Minaj — a 24-year-old, multiracial (she is of African, Trinidadian and Indo-Asian descent) Queens-born rapper — has assumed the roles of Marilyn Monroe, Chaka Khan, Mickey Mouse and even Harry Potter’s pal Hermione. Now Minaj, a protégée of the rap impresario Lil’ Wayne, is drawing attention for her searing new summer album, “Beam Me Up Scotty,” and her accompanying reinvention in Wonder Woman drag.
Female M.C.’s have traditionally had their choice of two routes up the charts: showboat their brutal expertise in all things streets and sheets (Foxy Brown, Remy Ma, Trina) or affect an unthreatening and palatable pop persona (Missy Elliott, Queen Latifah, Lil’ Mama). Minaj has hybridized a course all her own, blending keen pop culture whimsy with lyrical power trips fit for the boardroom, a sporadic and unexplained London accent and flourishes of gale-force girlishness that make Mariah Carey look like Miranda from “Sex and the City.” Plus she’s got a great ear for hits — in addition to her original material, she’s re-recorded verses over many of the year’s best tracks as if they were her own. Minaj, now the world is ready for you, and the wonders you can do.
Check out Nicki Minaj’s website and selections from her new mixtape “Beam Me Up Scotty” at myspace.com/nickiminaj.