Nicki Minaj’s confidence has rarely come into question, what with her penchant for lap dances and surrounding herself with a plethora of dudes (and almost always overpowering them). Her fierceness is part of her appeal, with her softer, girlier side rarely coming into play apart from her Barbie-influenced attire. “Super Bass,” a bonus track off Pink Friday, switched things up a little bit by presenting her take on bubblegum pop, but it’s still more dance party fare than deep emotional revelation. Continuing to gift fans with more tracks, Minaj debuted “Catch Me” via Twitter on Wednesday, one that presents the Young Money princess in a new light.
Produced by Swizz Beatz, the song is entirely different from “Super Bass” as a recognizably Swizzy beat—video-game like laser sounds—penetrate in between Minaj’s syllables. Aesthetics aside, it’s also surprisingly reflective and honest. “I’m in need of more attention,” she raps plainly (Really? You don’t say!), shedding her character-driven tropes we’ve become accustomed to in exchange for explaining how she really feels. Not everyone can be as strong as Beyoncé—though even at times B piles on the schmaltz—and Minaj says she needs her man in question to “vindicate” her. This may seem like a weakness to some, but is also a refreshing admittance that she’s not this invincible soldier of love so many female pop stars today try to portray themselves as (thanks to…Sasha Fierce). It’s easy to talk a big game, but harder to back those words up (“I have given my all / It’s funny how you could always make me feel small”).
Feeling helpless or sad over a breakup does not make one a terrible person, and while she might want to consider moving on sometime soon, her feelings are justified. (For now—we’re not saying we wouldn’t like some more traditional Harajuku Barbie rhymes.) “Catch Me” embraces two kinds of emotions, as well as two distinct Minaj styles: her flow still cuts with sharp diction, particularly early on, before turning into a desperate plea for help by the chorus (“can you catch me”), more vulnerable than we’ve heard her before. As the song builds it never fully takes flight, which might be the point; Minaj is a work in progress, and the song does it’s best to convey that through her restrained emotion.