Majesty (Nicki Minaj and Labrinth song)
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|Song by Nicki Minaj and Labrinth featuring Eminem|
|from the album Queen|
|Released||August 10, 2018|
"Majesty" is a song recorded by American rapper Nicki Minaj and British singer Labrinth featuring American rapper Eminem for Minaj's fourth studio album, Queen (2018). It was planned to be sent to radio stations on October 16, 2018, through Young Money Entertainment and Cash Money Records as the fourth single from the album, but then it was postponed. It was written by Minaj, Labrinth, Eminem, and Luis Resto; while being produced by Labrinth, with additional production by Eminem. It is a pop-rap song, that is about Minaj's desire for money and success.
Music critics were divided with "Majesty"; some praised the track's lyrics and Minaj-Eminem's "chemistry," while others criticized its length and the lack of cohesiveness between the three artists. With about 10.3 syllables per second, Eminem's verse on the song out-performs his 2013 song "Rap God" in rapping speed by about 0.7 syllables per second. Commercially, the song peaked at number 58 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and entered the charts of Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Promotion for the track begun with a live debut of the track on Minaj's Queen Radio show on Beats 1, and continued with Minaj's live performance of a portion of the song on the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards. Later, the song was featured in a Beats by Dre commercial ad co-starring Serena Williams, Nas, and Minaj.
Background and release
On August 10, 2018, Minaj revealed the final tracklist for her fourth studio album, Queen, that included a song titled "Majesty" featuring Eminem and Labrinth as the track number two. In fact, the song marks the second time Minaj and Eminem have collaborated on a track, after "Roman's Revenge" from the former's debut studio album Pink Friday (2010). It premiered a few hours later as part of the album on all major music platforms. To promote it, as well as the 18 other tracks from the album, Minaj first played the song live on her Beats 1 Queen Radio show with Zane Lowe, and claimed that Eminem's verse would "go down in history as one of the best verses in the history of rap." The song was scheduled to be sent to rhythmic contemporary radio stations on October 16 as the fourth single from the album, however, it was ultimately canceled.
Composition and lyrics
"Majesty" is a pop-rap song that "sinks under dated piano chords, melodramatic string swells and a grating vocal hook." Minaj's recording engineer Big Juice explained the making of the song saying, "When we heard the piano part, we were like, 'oh, that’s a pretty cool beat.' Once it dropped into the [sings more aggressive part], everybody went crazy. But I didn’t know she was putting Eminem on it until the last couple of weeks when he sent it back. He’s still one of those guys who pays attention to lyricism, and as you can tell on this song, he went in. When that beat drops, that is crazy. Then it changes again in the outro with that Caribbean vibe."
Talking about Eminem's inclusion in the song to DJ Whoo Kid's The Whoolywood Shuffle, Minaj said: "We sent him 'Majesty' not thinking he was gonna do it. He co-produced it, [...] he did the same thing with 'Roman’s Revenge' [...] but he added more production value on this one like he just goes in, he taylor-makes the beat around his flow and, you know, it’s epic. Can we acknowledge that [Eminem’s verse is] like one of the best rap verses we’ve heard in years? Like oh my god, like I was so freaking stunned when I got that back. I just sat there for a long time, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t do nothing, I was just like, 'yo, he murdered'. It was like another level because lately you don’t see rappers doing that because they don’t feel like they have to anymore."
Lyrically, Minaj raps about her desire for money and success, and defends her legacy from alleged pretenders: "Can't post on Nicki block unless you sellin' Nicki crack," she raps. She uses word play in the two-liners "The MAC movin' like crack/I'm selling powder now," which is a double entendre that references her MAC Cosmetics collection and drug dealing. Towards the end of the song, she addresses in a 40 seconds outro those who are jealous of her, singing in a gently menacing coda: "Jealousy is a disease, die slow." Labrinth also pays tribute to Minaj's status as he sings on the chorus, "Whatever you say, Mrs. Majesty/Whatever you want, you can have from me."
Eminem uses a singsong flow, before turning up for a fast long-form verse—a formula that he is using since 2009's Relapse. He calls out trendy mumble rap saying, "Our genre's lymph nodes are swollen up," before abandoning the song's framework to breathlessly rap about his difficult past, and how it would be a bad idea to talk about them at all, "Let me keep it one hundred, two things shouldn't be your themes of discussion/The Queen and her husband, last thing you're gonna be is our subjects," he states. He name-checks American rappers Slick Rick and Q-Tip, and American hip hop collective Souls of Mischief, implicitly placing himself and Minaj in that same lineage.
According to a set of calculations done by a Genius contributor and confirmed by the website, Eminem's verse on the song out-performs his 2013 song "Rap God" in rapping speed by about 0.7 syllables per second. On "Majesty", Eminem raps 123 syllables in about 12 seconds—about 10.3 syllables per second—, while he spits 157 syllables in 16.3 seconds—9.6 syllables per second— on the speediest part of "Rap God". Although the latter track does still hold the Guinness World Record for most words in a hit single with 1,560.
"Majesty" divided music critics. In a positive review, Stephanie Smith-Strickland of Entertainment Weekly called the song "a swaggering, boastful affair," and found that "The track's high-energy nature spurs the duo to go bar-for-bar with the same intensity of their last collaborative song 'Roman's Revenge'." She also praised Minaj's use of word play in the song. In Refinery29, Courtney Smith described "Majesty" as an "almost Queen-esque track," and pointed Minaj's "die slow" line towards the end of the song, which she felt were "heavy-handed." The Atlantic's Spencer Kornhaber found that "Majesty" is "a clunky show of force that leans hard on Eminem," and praised the outro stating that "It's one of a few times on Queen where the catchiest or most intriguing bits—the ones where she seems un-miffed and ready to riff— are relegated to interludes." Similarly, Rawiya Kameir from The Fader writes, "As usual, Nicki's best moments come through when she's experimenting, when it sounds like she's not overthinking things. [...] Towards the end of "Majesty", [she delivers a gently menacing lilt that is] for more inventive than much of the rest of the album."
Sam Hockey-Smith from Vulture found that while the song "is not especially surprising," Minaj and Eminem "sound great together on 'Majesty'," and "have a lot of chemistry, mostly because they both enjoy modulating their voices mid-verse." The Guardian's Ben Beaumont-Thomas felt that "Perhaps [Minaj's] closest analogue is Eminem, someone else who plays with persona and sometimes lets their technical excellence do the heavy lifting rather than truly interesting lyrics." He applauded both Minaj and Eminem's verses, but was critical of Labrinth's "catchy chorus", which he found "not finessed into [Minaj's] verses." Mike Neid of Idolator summarized, "[Minaj and Eminem] established their chemistry on "Roman's Revenge", but ["Majesty"] is another strong offering (barring some questionable lines)."
In a negative review, Ella Jukwey of The Independent wrote that "'Majesty' fails to live up the imposing title of the album. [...] On paper, [it] should be a thrilling collaboration but in fact, it is one of the few misses of the album, running for too long and lacking a cohesiveness between its three artists." In USA Today, Maeve McDermott stated that "'Majesty' isn't necessarily a bad song, but its jauntily folksy chorus and confounding Eminem verse raise more questions than answers—mainly, why does this sound like Twenty One Pilots?" She also pointed the "classic mistake of conflating rapping that is fast with rapping that is good." Forbes' Bryan Rolli advanced that "[Minaj's] lyrical ability can't salvage a track when [she] cedes it to her collaborators," criticizing Eminem's recent rap formula which is "scoring [him] pop hits but sacrificing his artistry along the way." He concluded that "'Majesty' is doomed to be mediocre at best, but Minaj could've slashed Eminem's verse altogether and made a more serviceable track at half the length." Jonny Coleman of The Hollywood Reporter added the song to the list of the album's filler tracks, writing, "[The song] could have easily hit the cutting room floor. [...] Labrinth does a poor André 3000 impression while Eminem's lyrics, production and general inclusion feel completely misplaced."
Minaj first performed the song on August 20, 2018, in a medley of "Majesty", "Barbie Dreams", "Ganja Burn", and "FEFE" live from the PATH World Trade Center station at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards. Minaj also frequently performs "Majesty" as her opening song on The Nicki Wrld Tour.
In the media
"Majesty" was featured in a Beats by Dre commercial ad released on August 27, 2018. Titled Queen of Queens, it co-stars American tennis player Serena Williams, American rapper Nas, and Minaj. It starts out with Nas saying "In Fair Queens a complex sits. Between two sides, our hero split," before Williams comes into the picture on a stoop in New York City and the song plays in the background. Williams eventually works her way to the middle of the street where she’s crowned "Queen." Minaj ends the spot by saying "Now watch the Queen conquer."
Credits and personnel
- Recorded at Criteria Studios, Miami, Florida; Effigy Studios, Detroit, Michigan; and Jungle City Studios, New York
- Mixed at Effigy Studios, Detroit, Michigan
- Mastered at Brian Gardner Mastering
- Labrinth appears courtesy of Syco Music
- Eminem appears courtesy of Aftermath Records, a division of Universal Music Group
- Nicki Minaj – vocals
- Eminem – vocals, additional production, mixing
- Labrinth – vocals, production, record engineering
- Aubry "Big Juice" Delaine – record engineering
- Mike Strange – record engineering, mixing
- Joe Strange – record engineering
- Nick Valentin – record engineering assistance
- Alex Estevez – record engineering assistance
- Luis Resto – additional keyboards
- Brian "Big Bass" Gardner – mastering
|Canada (Canadian Hot 100)||44|
|New Zealand Hot Singles (RMNZ)||6|
|Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)||56|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||41|
|US Billboard Hot 100||58|
|US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)||25|
|Various||August 10, 2018|||
|United States||October 16, 2018||Rhythmic contemporary radio|||
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