Fly (Nicki Minaj song)
|Single by Nicki Minaj featuring Rihanna|
|from the album Pink Friday|
|Released||August 30, 2011|
|Label||Young Money, Cash Money, Universal Motown, Universal Republic|
|Writer(s)||Kevin Hissink, W. Jordan, Onika Maraj, Jonathan Rotem, Clemm Rishad|
|Producer(s)||J.R. Rotem, Kevin Hissink (co prod.)|
|Nicki Minaj chronology|
"Fly" is a song by American rapper-songwriter Nicki Minaj from her debut studio album, Pink Friday (2010). The song was released as the eighth and final single from the album on August 30, 2011. It features additional guest vocals by Barbadian recording artist Rihanna. The track was written by Kevin Hissink, Will Jordan, J.R. Rotem, Clemm Rishad and Minaj herself, while production was helped by Rotem and Hissink. The song is a R&B track which incorporates the hip hop genre. The song is inspired by the emotion of soaring above and overcoming all stereotypes and negativity, to come out victorious.
"Fly" garnered positive reviews from music critics, most of whom noted it as a stand-out track of the album and complimented the song for its inspirational feeling. In the United States, "Fly" reached number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also reached the top twenty in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland and the United Kingdom. The song became Nicki Minaj's first number one on the UK R&B Chart. Furthermore, "Fly" marked top twenty positions on the US Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs and Pop Songs charts and reached the top ten of the US Rap Songs chart at number nine.
- 1 Production, recording, and composition
- 2 Background
- 3 Critical reception
- 4 Chart performance
- 5 Music video
- 6 In popular culture
- 7 Credits and personnel
- 8 Charts and certifications
- 9 Release history
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Production, recording, and composition
"Fly" was written by Nicki Minaj (credited as Onika Minaj), Jonathan Rotem, Kevin Hissink, W. Jordan and Clemm Rishad. Production of the song was handled by Rotem under his production name J.R. Rotem. It was recorded by Aerial Chobaz and Charles Moniz at Glenwood Place Studios, Burbank, California and at Chalice Recording Studios, Los Angeles, California. They were assisted by Lyttleton "Cartwheel" Carter. It was mixed by Carter, Chobaz and Rotem at Glenwood Recording Studios and Chalice Recording Studios. All instrumentation was provided for by Rotem, with the exception of guitar, which was provided for by Hissink. Rihanna appears on the track as a featured artist courtesy of Def Jam Recordings.
According to the sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, "Fly" is written in the key of B♭ major, with a relaxed-four tempo of 120 beats per minute. The song follows a chord progression of B♭–C7sus–Gm7–E♭, while Rihanna and Nicki's vocals span from B♭3 to D5.
The song was produced by J.R. Rotem, who has additionally worked with Britney Spears, Rick Ross, Leona Lewis, Jason Derülo, and Iyaz. In an interview with MTV News, Rotem discussed the track, stating that it almost did not make the cut for Pink Friday and was the last addition to the album after Minaj heard how inspirational it was. He stated, "Near the tail end of her project, I came into the studio and I had some tracks [for her]. That was one of the ones I was excited about. When I played it for her, she knew instantly: 'Yes, this is the record.' She connected with it immediately. I could just tell she was excited by it, which excited me." The demo version of the song featured a studio-vocalist that would have later been an uncredited vocalist on the track, however Minaj decided to ask Rihanna to do the track. Rotem reminisced on the moment, stating that he told Minaj "'That would be great, but getting Rihanna to do a hook for you is easier said than done.' I think that speaks to Nicki's star power. I said, 'Yeah, she's definitely first choice. It took time because she was promoting her own album and traveling overseas. It happened, and I heard it when Nicki gave me the record and it really was one of those incredible things that was really a blessing. It manifested. She said she wanted it and it happened."
During a Pink Friday Diaries session, Minaj talked more in depth about the song. "FLY is one of my absolute faves. I wanted to work with Rihanna for a long time. I'm very proud of her accomplishments ; especially since she was born on an island like me. This song is a female empowerment song. But then again, its not specific to just women. It speaks about flying, soaring high in the face of every single solitary adversity that comes your way. I speak about how the media has attempted to box me in and how that has made me feel suffocated. After years of being dragged thru the mud, I've mustered up the courage to re-define myself. I believe that I represent an entire generation. My fans have become my family ; and together we have become a movement. Get ready for it. We came to win."
The song garnered positive reviews from critics, most of which described the song as relaxing. Robbie Daw of Idolator gave the song a positive review stating, "And here on the J.R. Rotem-produced “Fly,” she’s wearing the coat of the down-and-out-but-hopeful fighter striving to overcome her adversaries. Consider this an 'I Believe I Can Fly' for the current generation. If there’s one thing Rihanna has proven, it’s that she’s the go-to chorus girl with a Midas touch. And if Eminem’s “Love The Way You Lie” and T.I.’s “Live Your Life” are any indicators, Nicki stands the chance of having her first #1 on the Hot 100 with “Fly”—provided, of course, it gets an official single release." Margaret Wappler of Los Angeles Times complimented the songs collaboration stating, "Even though her roots are elsewhere, Minaj sounds better on the “Pink Friday” tracks that are more squarely in the club R&B vein, which she almost always spikes with enough rap to remind anyone that she isn’t another Beyonce or even Sasha Fierce, not by any stretch. “Fly” makes good work out of its Rihanna cameo — while the dark glamour bird soars, Minaj skitters around her with her vulnerable but choppy rhymes, equal parts tough woman and big softie."
Scott Plagenhoef of Pitchfork Media complimented the song and how it made Pink Friday the record it is by stating, "but these tracks-- plus the Rihanna collaboration "Fly" and the solo ballad "Save Me"—are the best examples of what Pink Friday is rather than what many of us wanted it to be." Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone commented on the genre of choice and the toned-down sexiness, "Minaj aims for a Rihanna-style crossover approach, singing R&B choruses over electro floss and toning down her nasty side." Marc Hogan of Spin complimented the song's inspirational tone and that other cuts from the album, including "Fly", "have her charismatically colorful, larger-than-life personality all over them."
"Fly" debuted at number 22 in New Zealand on September 5, 2011. The following week, the song climbed into the top twenty of the chart at number 18. It reached its final peak of 13 the following week. The song spent nine weeks on the chart in total. "Fly" entered the Australian Singles Chart at number 38 on September 18, 2011. The following week, it rose to number 23, and reached its peak of 18 in its third week. The song spent a total of nine weeks on the chart, earning a Platinum certification from the Australian Recording Industry Association, denoting sales of 70,000 copies.
Following its release as a single in the United States, "Fly" reached number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 on the issue dated December 10, 2011. The position marked Minaj's fourth top twenty of her career on the chart. The song also reached number 20 on the US Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart, becoming Minaj's sixth top twenty song on the chart. On the Pop Songs chart, "Fly" reached number 16, marking only Minaj's third song to reach the top twenty, following "Moment 4 Life" (featuring Drake) and "Super Bass" earlier the same year. The song also charted on the Hot Dance/Club Songs chart at number 47, becoming Minaj's second song to appear on the chart following "Super Bass". As of December 2014, "Fly" has sold over 1.5 million copies in the United States. "Fly" made an appearance on the Canadian Hot 100 at number 55.
"Fly" entered the top forty of the UK Singles Chart at number 38 on September 17, 2011, after placing at number 67 the previous week. The following week it rose to number 26. It reached its top twenty peak at number 16 on October 15, 2011 after seven weeks on the chart. The peak marked Minaj's second-highest charting song on the chart as a lead artist, and sixth top twenty overall. In the same week, "Fly" topped the UK R&B Chart, becoming Minaj's first Minaj's first number one on the chart. Elsewhere in Europe, the song also reached the top twenty in Ireland and Scotland.
A music video for the song was shot the weekend of January 7, 2011 and directed by Sanaa Hamri. "Fly" is the second music video to be shot in a string of music videos Minaj announced to be shot for promotion, along with "Save Me" and "Girls Fall Like Dominoes". Minaj and Rihanna both shared behind the scenes photos of the music video on Twitter, where Rihanna sported straight red hair and Minaj wore a curly black wig and a barbed pink dress. In an interview with E! Online, Minaj spoke briefly about the concept stating, “We’re going to save the world in more ways than one with the video and that’s all I can say about that.” In an interview with BBC Radio’s Tim Westwood, Minaj spoke very highly about the upcoming video, stating "The video is done. The ‘Fly’ video is a freakin’ movie! Movie! Movie! Cinematic popcorn." In a recent blog from Minaj's website, She stated that the video for "Fly" has been pushed back, but it will be released soon. The Video was filmed at Universal Studios Hollywood
In an interview with MTV News, Minaj discussed the song's video and official release from the album. She stated that the video's release date and official single release will take place sometime around Memorial Day weekend, as she does not want to interfere with Rihanna's current releases circulating the radio and wants to allow time for both artists to promote each other's respective album before the collaboration is officially released. She added "So she has a lot of [songs] in rotation and I want to let her stuff have a moment and do its thing, dominate radio. [Instead], I wanted to come out with something more fun." A preview of the video is set to be previewed first time at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards pre-show. The preview consists of Minaj and Rihanna in a foggy area, with Minaj having a pixie cut and Rihanna having long hair, seemingly switching hairstyles. The full "Fly" music video premiered on mtv.com and Minaj's VEVO after the preview on VMA'S Pre-Show on August 28, 2011.
The video begins with a Jaguar XKR driving through the wreckage of a post-apocalyptic landscape. Part way through it cuts to a shot of the sky, with the sun blocked out by clouds. The video then returns to the car where it has stopped and the roof retreats to the back of the car. The song begins as Minaj steps out wearing a strange, pink barbed dress, thigh-high cowboy boots and big curly hair. Minaj begin her verse whilst walking through the wreckage, and as her verse finishes she is joined by Rihanna who sings the second chorus, wearing a black dress, with straight red hair. As the second verse begins the video switches to a scene where we see Minaj standing on the wing of a crashed plane, this time sporting a pink bob-style wig and lilac dress. For the third chorus we see Rihanna and Minaj together again standing amongst the wreckage in a night time scene, with Rihanna wearing a white long-sleeved straight jacket, and Minaj with leopard print style hair and a baby dress. As Minaj begins her third verse the scenes alternate between the current scene and one where we see Minaj, wearing a white cat suit and White Tiger print hair style, standing on at the top of some steps. As she walks down, ninjas start appearing from over either side of the stair railings and attacking her. Minaj surprisingly defeats all her opponents, in what is a slightly extended version of the third verse compared to the album version of the song. This scene also alternates with the scene where Minaj is on the plane wing. On the last chorus the video alternates between the plane wing scene and the scene with Rihanna and Minaj whimpering amongst the wreckage. As the video comes to an end, plant life begins to grow around and over the wreckage. The video finishes by returning to the shot of the sky, where now the sun can be seen exploding between the clouds.
A writer of The Huffington Post commented that the video for "Fly" was "dramatic, [and] disaster-focused". The Boombox praised the fashion and the out-fits Minaj and Rihanna wore during the video. MTV News' Jocelyn Vena also praised the fashion in the video and added: "[It] plays out like some post-apocalyptic fashion magazine photo shoot in which Nicki Minaj and Rihanna stand near a plane wreck in couture outfits, mugging for the camera."
In popular culture
- American musical TV series Glee, performed a version of the song in episode fourteen of season three, "On My Way" (aired on February 21, 2012). It is a mash-up track with the song "I Believe I Can Fly" by R. Kelly.
Credits and personnel
- Recording locations
- Recording – Glenwood Place Studios, Burbank, California; Chalice Recording Studios, Los Angeles, California.
- Mixing – Glenwood Place Studios, Burbank, CA; Chalice Recording Studios, Los Angeles, CA.
Credits adapted from the liner notes of Pink Friday.