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I Am Your Leader

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"I Am Your Leader"
Song by Nicki Minaj featuring Rick Ross and Cam'ron from the album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
Released April 3, 2012
Format Digital download
Recorded 2011
Genre
Length 3:33
Label
Writer(s)
Producer(s) Fernando Garibay & Hit-Boy

"I Am Your Leader" is a song recorded by Trinidadian-American recording artist Nicki Minaj for her second studio album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012). The song features additional rap vocals from hip hop artists Rick Ross and Cam'ron. Production of the song was handled by Fernando Garibay & Chauncey "Hit-Boy" Hollis, with writing coming from Minaj, Garibay, Hollis, Ross, and Cam'ron. Musically, "I Am Your Leader" is a midtempo hardcore hip hop and electro hop song that contains sparse beats, minimal instrumentation, repetitive, high-pitched, off-pitch synth hooks, and a booming, static bass. Lyrically, Minaj "dishes boast-heavy verses about how she’s better than all these other bitches", according to Adam Fleischer of XXL Magazine.

"I Am Your Leader" garnered praise from contemporary music critics, with the majority praising the songs production, Minaj's vocal delivery, and the appearances of Cam'ron and Ross. To promote the song, an accompanying music video for the song was released on August 24, 2012. It features Minaj inside a brightly colored playhouse dressed in eccentric clothing, while sequences show Minaj, Ross and Cam'ron in different rooms such as the bathroom, the staircase, and the dining room. Fellow rapper Tyga also makes a brief cameo appearance. Despite not being released as a single, "I Am Your Leader" peaked at number 71 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Minaj briefly performed a part of the song on The Today Show's summer concert series.

Background[edit]

Rick Ross (pictured) and Minaj are long time collaborators.

Following the success of Minaj's debut album, Pink Friday, Cash Money co-CEO, Brian "Birdman" Williams announced to Billboard that Minaj was aiming to release her second album within the first quarter of 2012.[1] In November 2011, Minaj announced on Twitter that the album would be released on February 14, 2012, though it was later delayed to April 3, 2012. The album focuses on Roman Zolanski, one of Minaj's alter egos that was first featured on Pink Friday.[2] On May 24, 2012, a poll was posted on Minaj's official website asking fans to choose the next single(s). The poll was divided into three categories: The second category asked fans to choose between "Champion", "HOV Lane", and "I Am Your Leader".[3] "Champion" had the most votes and won the poll; "HOV Lane" came in second, and "I Am Your Leader" came in third.[3] On June 6, 2012, Minaj announced through her official Twitter that "Champion" would be the next urban single.[4]

Composition[edit]

"I Am Your Leader" is a hardcore hip-hop and electro-hop song that runs for three minutes and thirty-three seconds.[5] The production consists of a "chilled-out, humming beat punctuated on the chorus with a blunted fake-horn hook—halfway between classic-era Neptunes and Look At Me Now" according to Andrew Unterberger of Popdust.[6] It also contains repetitive, high-pitched, off-pitch synth hooks, and a booming, static bass.[6] "I Am Your Leader" makes use of sparse beats, frills, minimal instrumentation, and allows Minaj’s rhymes to be the focal point, all of which gives the song "something of a mixtape feel" according to Joe Rivers of No Ripcord.[7] In his review of the song, Unterberger of Popdust noted Hit-Boy's modern hip hop production, saying "Diplo and Bangladesh might have to watch their back after the up-and-comers contributions to this album."[6] Adam Fleischer of XXL said "Nicki dishes boast-heavy verses about how she’s better than all these other bitches."[8]

Critical reception[edit]

"I Am Your Leader" gained positive reviews. Andrew Unterberger of Popdust gave it a 4-star rating, complimenting Minaj's rapping as well as the guest verses of Cam'ron and Rick Ross. However, Unterberger felt that Minaj was overshadowed by the guest verses.[6] Andrew Hampp of Billboard echoed Unterberger's sentiments, saying "The nostalgia of Cam's return trumps the overall catchiness of the song."[9] XXL Magazine stated that "Though many of the early songs [on the album] lack real substance, the records remain generally exciting - “I Am Your Leader,” alongside Rick Ross and Cam’ron, “Beez In The Trap” with 2 Chainz, and the triumphant “Champion” featuring Nas, Drake and Young Jeezy are all memorable moments".[8] Joe Rivers No Ripcord praised "I Am Your Leader" along with "Beez in the Trap" for being "thrilling" and making "good use of cameos".[7] Stephen Deusner of Paste Magazine said that "On the nursery rhyming “I Am Your Leader,” [Minaj] spits yet another dick joke like a playground jeer, slyly undermining hip-hop’s traditionally male-centric braggadocio. She’s not only participating in phallocentric boasting; she’s also inflating the convention with a Swedish penis pump until it’s just shy of bursting".[10]

David Jeffries of Allmusic listed it as one of the best tracks on the album.[11] Matthew Cole of Slant Magazine stated that "'I Am Your Leader' and 'Beez in the Trap' [are] two excellent tracks which manage to sound both bubbly and heavy as Minaj delivers her most effortlessly entertaining shit-talk to date".[12] Ryan Dombal of Pitchfork called "Come On A Cone" and "I Am Your Leader" "two brilliantly off-kilter songs".[13] Tom Ewing of The Guardian said that "On "I Am Your Leader", [Minaj] drops a couple of octaves to gleefully pompous effect".[14] Kevin Ritchie of NOW Magazine named it the top track of the album.[15] Kyle Anderson of Entertainment Weekly named it one of the best tracks on the album along with "Champion".[16]

Promotion[edit]

Music video[edit]

The video begins with a pink mailbox with the song's title on the front written in different fonts. The video is set in a playhouse esque brightly coloured house. Minaj spits her first verse in a spacious room filled with antler heads and wacky windows, Minaj is seen standing on a zebra print carpet. Minaj's second appearance saw her in a bathtub, partially clothed - wearing only Alexander McQueen “Armadillo” jewel encrusted 12-inch stiletto shoes. She also wore a green, Marilyn Monroe inspired wig. There is also a scene with all three rappers. After the hook, Rick Ross is seen sitting at a gold banquet table reciting his rap, shirtless, whilst gold maniquins ascend behind him. For Cam'ron's verse the scene is located on a staircase of moving photos of the three rappers. Nicki's Young Money labelmate, Tyga also made a brief cameo appearance in the video.[17] The video garnered positive reviews from critics, noting its high energy, fun and wackiness. MTV's Rob Markman gave the video a positive review saying, "Only in a Nicki Minaj video can you find two of rap's hardest street figures performing in such a wacky setting, but it's the juxtaposition that "I Am Your Leader" offers which makes it so fun."[17]

Live performances[edit]

Minaj performed the song for the first time on The Today Show's summer concert series on August 14, 2012.[18]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Recording
Personnel

Credits adapted from Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded liner notes.[19]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2012) Peak
position
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[20] 71

References[edit]

  1. ^ "New Nicki Minaj Album Out in Early 2012, Says Birdman". Billboard. November 21, 2011. Retrieved December 11, 2011. 
  2. ^ Krishnamurthy, Sowmya (March 1, 2012). "Nicki Minaj Releases 'Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded' Album Art". Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 4, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Pick Nicki's Next Single!". MyPinkFriday. Nicki Minaj, Young Money Entertainment. Retrieved April 1, 2013. 
  4. ^ Martin, Andrew (June 7, 2012). "Nicki Minaj Reveals "Champion" As Next Urban Single". Complex. Complex Media. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Top 100 Videos of 2012". Black Entertainment Television. Viacom. January 1, 2013. Retrieved June 26, 2013.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  6. ^ a b c d Unterberger, Andrew (March 29, 2012). "Nicki Minaj's "Roman Reloaded" Reviewed: "I Am Your Leader" (Feat. Cam'Ron & Rick Ross)". Retrieved 28 August 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Rivers, Joe (April 16, 2012). "Nicki Minaj Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded". No Ripcord. Drupal. Retrieved August 28, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b Fleischer, Adam (April 3, 2012). "Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded". XXL. Harris Publications. Retrieved August 28, 2012. 
  9. ^ Hampp, Andrew (March 29, 2012). "Nicki Minaj, 'Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded': Track-By-Track Review". Billboard. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  10. ^ Deusner, Stephen M. (4 April 2012). "Nicki Minaj: Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded". Paste (magazine). Wolfgang's Vault. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  11. ^ Jeffries, David. "Nicki Minaj Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved August 28, 2012. 
  12. ^ Cole, Matthew (April 2, 2012). "Nicki Minaj Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded". Slant Magazine. Slant Magazine. Retrieved August 8, 2012. 
  13. ^ Dombal, Ryan (April 6, 2012). "Nicki Minaj Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded". Pitchfork Media. Pitchfork Inc. Retrieved 28 August 2012. 
  14. ^ Ewing, Tom (April 5, 2012). "Nicki Minaj: Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded – review". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved August 28, 2012. 
  15. ^ Ritchie, Kevin (April 5, 2012). "Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded". Now (newspaper). Now Communications. Retrieved August 28, 2012. 
  16. ^ Anderson, Kyle (April 13, 2012). "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012) Nicki Minaj". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved August 28, 2012. 
  17. ^ a b Markman, Rob (August 24, 2012). "Welcome To Nicki Minaj's Playhouse: 'I Am Your Leader' Video". MTV News. Viacom. Retrieved August 28, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Nicki Minaj Fires Up The 'Today' Show: Watch Her Performances". Idolator. Buzz Media. August 14, 2012. Retrieved August 28, 2012.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  19. ^ Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (liner notes). Nicki Minaj. The Island Def Jam Music Group. 2012. 2796668. 
  20. ^ "Nicki Minaj – Chart history" Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for Nicki Minaj. Retrieved September 15, 2012.

External links[edit]