Nicki Minaj Goes for Hype With 'No Frauds' Release: Critic's Take

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Nicki Minaj arrives at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on Aug. 30, 2015 in Los Angeles.

Her response to “Shether” gets hidden in the noise.

Nicki Minaj has finally responded to Remy Ma. Nearly two weeks after the latter’s eviscerating diatribe, “Shether” (and its follow-up "Another One"), Minaj released "No Frauds" (featuring Drake and Lil Wayne), along with “Changed It” and “Regret in Your Tears.” The release strategy seemed deliberately executed. She positioned the tracks as "3 Pack From Paris" on Instagram, and following a social-media tease, she caused it to trend for hours -- the day before and during release. Minaj has already taken to social media to tout her success -- based on early iTunes charts and Spotify standings -- and to fire additional threats to Remy Ma.

Nicki Minaj knows how to create hype, without a doubt. She can break the Internet, for sure. But with all the noise around this release, “No Frauds” simply can’t push through.

The biggest impediment against "No Frauds" -- lyrics notwithstanding -- was timing. Nicki Minaj unleashed her response too late. It’s true that Nicki and Remy have had longstanding issues (which Remy confirmed on The Wendy Williams Show on March 3), but the relevant timeline for our purposes is as follows: On Feb. 23 and 24, two Nicki Minaj verses surfaced -- on Jason Derulo’s "Swalla" and Gucci Mane’s "Make Love," respectively -- in which she appeared to take jabs at Remy. Remy expediently released “Shether” on Feb. 24. There were no subliminal messages or mincing words -- just direct shots.

The sheer vitriol of "Shether" warranted an expedited answer. Forty-eight hours passed, then a week. Nothing. After two weeks, the initial fervor had worn off and, perhaps more damaging, the expectations skyrocketed. The longer Nicki Minaj waited to respond, the better that response ought to be. "No Frauds" could not deliver. Nicki herself was cognizant of timing. "The greats took 3 months to respond to diss records. Queens don’t move on peasant time," she shared in a lengthy Instagram post following release.

 

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A post shared by Nicki Minaj (@nickiminaj) on

 

It’s true. Back in the day -- realistically, anytime preceding the advent of social media -- rappers were able to spend weeks or even months penning the perfect response track. Nas (who may be the Queens artist she’s referring to) famously took six months to craft "Ether" as a response to Jay Z’s "Takeover" in 2001. But social media and the 24-hour news cycle have flipped that paradigm, creating voracious fans, hungry for instant (or at the very least, timely) gratification. Nicki has mastered the social-media game -- look no further than her fervent Barbz fanbase -- so its subsequent expectations need to apply.

The rollout artificially added to the hype, seemingly unintentionally. On March 8, I was exclusively told by an industry source about the existence of a Nicki Minaj, Drake and Lil Wayne track. At the time, I was informed that it would be released by Real 92.3 in L.A. I shared the tip -- prefacing that it was a rumor, as I did not hear the track myself -- on Twitter. Almost instantly, social-media chatter between L.A. radio stations Real 92.3 and Power 106 heated up, indicating a fight over the debut of the track. Industry insider Low Key shared that Real 92.3 had tweeted ownership of the track and then deleted the tweet. Power 106’s Justin Credible and DJ Sour Milk subsequently shared tweets insinuating that they were going to get the track.

At around noon ET on March 9, Justin Credible shared on-air that he had spoken to Nicki on the phone and confirmed that his station would debut her music. Based on my own opinion, it seems Real 92.3 leaked information about the track accidentally. Power 106 caught wind -- perhaps from that tweet or my tweet -- and reached out to Nicki and her team. Whatever happened, “No Frauds” was bolstered by this virality, which added to the already-high expectations.

"No Fraud"’s biggest asset was also its biggest detriment. Nicki Minaj reuniting with her Cash Money/Young Money cohorts, Drake and Lil Wayne, is a big story, but tacking them on to a diss record was misaligned. The optics said that Nicki Minaj needed her crew, which happened to be two men, to respond to a fellow female rapper. Given Nicki’s skill set, she is more than equipped at a solo response. She appeared to address this assertion in her Instagram post, stating, "Here @ Young Money, we don’t do diss records, we drop HIT RECORDS & diss u ON them." She is correct in that "No Frauds" is fine as a standalone single. It’ll likely get the airplay and streams that Nicki appears to be concerned about. It also completely misses the point of "Shether."

In rap beef, the response needs to commensurate with the shot. A seven-minute lyrical attack that excoriated Nicki’s artistry, credibility and personal life warrants an equally hard-hitting comeback that’s not a collaboration -- and, even worse, one with three artists. One of the most famous lines in Jay Z’s “Takeover” sums it up well: "It's like bringing a knife to a gunfight, pen to a test… We bring knife to fistfight, kill your drama/ We kill you mother----in' ants with a sledgehammer." In other words, if you’re gonna fire back, come correctly -- or don’t fire at all.