Beam Me Up Scotty (Remastered)
One of the nicest things about Nicki Minaj bringing Beam Me Up Scotty to streaming 12 years after its initial 2009 release—and with three new songs and two mid-career singles—is that fans get to see clearly both the evolution and consistency of the Queens rapper. The additions are tacked on to the top of her classic mixtape, thus beginning with her present and moving backwards towards her early days; what's revealed is a compelling ascent that looks entirely inevitable. On “Seeing Green,” which opens the proceedings, she spars with her YMCMB family, proving that, as was the case then, she can not only effortlessly hang with some of the greatest, but bring the best out of them as well. “Fractions,” a la “Chi-Raq” just a couple songs later, is vintage Nicki—a showcase of hypnotic cadences and clever lyricism that never stops rewarding repeated listens. But the real magic begins with the still-stunning “Itty Bitty Piggy.” Atop Soulja Boy's “Donk” beat, she lets loose a barrage of inventive wordplay (“Flyer than a kite, I get higher than Rapunzel/Keep the Snow White, I could buy it by the bundle,” she spits at one point), breathless flows, and undeniable charisma that, even a decade-plus on, cements that Nicki was always a star. Elsewhere, more playful songs like “Slumber Party” (with early cosigner Gucci Mane) and “I Get Crazy” (with Lil Wayne) and mellower ones like “Can Anybody Hear Me?” and “Still I Rise” testify to the vision of versatility she's always had: a riveting combination of pop theatrics and quick-witted rhymes all pulled together by a personality she's never been afraid to hide. A few of the original tracks are missing here—“Mind on My Money,” “Handstand,” and “I Feel Free” among them—but the spirit of Beam Me Up Scotty, and the energy it brought to the rap landscape, remains fully intact. Much the way the tape doubled as Nicki’s claim to the throne in its time, in 2021, it's another excuse to adjust her crown.