Only (Nicki Minaj song)
|Single by Nicki Minaj featuring Drake, Lil Wayne and Chris Brown|
|from the album The Pinkprint|
|Released||October 28, 2014|
4:59 (album edit – international deluxe)
|Nicki Minaj singles chronology|
|Chris Brown singles chronology|
|Drake singles chronology|
|Lil Wayne singles chronology|
"Only" is a song by American rapper and singer Nicki Minaj, from her third studio album, The Pinkprint (2014). It was released on October 28, 2014 by Young Money Entertainment, Cash Money Records and Republic Records as the third single from the album. It features additional rap vocals from hip hop artists Drake and Lil Wayne, and also features Chris Brown who sings the chorus of the song. The artists co-wrote the song with its producers, Dr. Luke, Cirkut, and JMIKE, with production assistance from HBM and Rock City. "Only" is a hip-hop song that contains an "icy" production that sits "ominously" underneath dirty lyrical metaphors.
"Only" peaked at number 12 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, giving Nicki Minaj her fourth number one on the latter chart and making her the only female rap artist to do so. The song was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The song received a nomination for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 58th Grammy Awards.
The song was supported with the release of both a lyric video and an official video. The lyric video was released in November 2014, premiering close to the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, with visualizations inspired by the Nazi Regime and the work of Leni Riefenstahl. There was immediate backlash from fans, calling the video anti-semitic and insensitive, although Nicki Minaj stated she was not involved in the production of the lyric video and said she regrets not overseeing it before it was posted to YouTube. The song's accompanying music video was released the following month and was directed by Hannah Lux Davis; it premiered on December 12, 2014.
Background and release
During an interview with Capital Xtra in June 2013, Minaj stated that she hoped Drake would be making an appearance on the album continuing to say "We're supposed to meet up this week to get some stuff crack-a-ling in the studio. I think there'll be another feature on the album that will blow people away. I'm super excited about that too, but it's obviously a secret!". On October 26, 2014, Minaj posted the single cover on Instagram, informing fans that this would be the third single off her upcoming album The Pinkprint. The cover art for the song was an illustration that depicts Minaj in a superhero catsuit, Drake as the pope, and Lil Wayne in a suit and tie. "Only" was released for digital download as the third single from the album on October 28, 2014.
Speaking to Revolt in November 2019, Minaj's sound engineer Big Juice recalled how Minaj reacted after they received Chris Brown's vocals for the chorus: "I remember when we did 'Only' and got the Chris Brown vocals back for that. She [Minaj] was jumping up and screaming, 'This is a fucking hit'."
Carolyn Menyes from Music Times gave the song a positive review, saying "With a cool sense of confidence and rhymes that boast of her own sexual and rapping prowess, Minaj is taking the reins, leading into the equally vulgar and explosive rap verses from Drake and Wayne". Brennan Carley from Spin said ""Only" is Nicki at her dirtiest and smartest, rapping with metaphors that'd fly over other rappers' heads while keeping the glint of a knowing wink always in her eye." Miles Raymer from Entertainment Weekly praised Minaj's rap and called it the best part of the song.
Chris Coplan from Consequence of Sound said although it wasn't the strongest effort from the three, the song was "a great display of how their separate and distinct personalities can still play off one another nicely". Drew Millard from Noisey praised Lil Wayne's verse and said "Minaj continues to rap laps around the competition and there's no indication that that's going to change any time soon". Matthew Trammell of The Fader gave the song a negative review, saying Minaj delivers "sleepy lines" and comes off "a bit desperate".
"Only" debuted at number 54 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and peaked at number 12 on the chart. On the week ending December 14, 2014 the song rose from number ten to one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, giving the artist her fourth number one, in doing so Minaj became the only female rap artist to score four number ones on the chart. Minaj surpassed Missy Elliott who scored three. The song also gave Drake his twelfth number one, Lil Wayne his ninth and Chris Brown his fifth. On August 17, 2015, "Only" was certified 3x Platinum in the United States. As of June 2016, the song has sold 1,471,110 copies in the United States.
Minaj released a lyric music video for the song in early November 2014, premiering close to the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, with visualisations inspired by the Nazi Regime and the work of Leni Riefenstahl. There was immediate backlash from fans, calling the video anti-semitic and insensitive. Many fans expressed their outrage on social media websites like Twitter and Tumblr.
Buzzfeed detailed the video, created by Jeff Osborne: "Nicki is depicted as a powerful military leader in charge of an army that look suspiciously like a bunch SS officers. Red flags that feature a distorted, swastika-looking version of her initials are featured throughout the video. There's a Nuremberg-esque parking lot for her tanks. And her soldiers are shown wearing Nazi-esque armbands." Osborne was inspired by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in his creation of the video. Gawker pointed out that although Minaj is not the first entertainer to derive inspiration from Nazi imagery, "generally artists have refrained from using comparisons to Hitler's regime as a compliment." Guest-rapper Drake, who is Jewish, was also criticized for his involvement in the video.
Minaj later issued a statement on the video via her Twitter account, "I didn't come up with the concept, but I'm very sorry and take full responsibility if it has offended anyone. I'd never condone Nazism in my art," also citing that her producer is Jewish. The artist behind the video, Jeff Osborne, refused to apologize for the video, confirming that the imagery used was indeed inspired by Nazism: "...if my work is misinterpreted because it's not a sappy tearjerker, sorry I'm not sorry." Neither Nicki Minaj nor Osborne responded to criticism that the video was released on the anniversary of the Kristallnacht. Nicki Minaj tweeted that Osborne was influenced by the Metalocalypse Dethklok music video for "The Gears" as well as Sin City when creating the music video. Brandon Small, creator of Metalocalypse responded to the comparison, stating that "They seem to be confused about art" before deconstructing the meaning behind both videos. He also added that he does not believe Nicki Minaj had poor intentions.
The accompanying music video for "Only", which was directed by Hannah Lux Davis, premiered on December 12, 2014. The video opens with an injured man lying on the floor in what appears to be a chamber. He is then taken to room were many other tortured men are tied up in a room. The video then cuts to Minaj who is wearing black-feathered lingerie. She raps, wearing a sheer getup and sky-high platform heels. Minaj and Drake stand side by side while Minaj dons what looks like a black lace wedding veil. Minaj, Wayne, and Drake stand in a run-down dungeon as Minaj continues to sing.
As of October 29 2020, the music video has more than 449 million views.
On December 6, 2014, Minaj first performed the song on Saturday Night Live. The rapper also performed the song during The Pinkprint Tour. On May 30, 2015, she also performed the song on the iHeartRadio Summer Pool Party 2015 in Las Vegas.
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||400,000|
|United States (RIAA)||3× Platinum||949,493|
sales+streaming figures based on certification alone
Since May 2013 RIAA certifications for digital singles include on-demand audio and/or video song streams in addition to downloads.
|United States||October 28, 2014||Digital download|
|November 4, 2014||Rhythmic radio|
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- on YouTube