It’s been a long time coming—her guest appearances on songs like “You da Boss” and “Turn Me On” gave clues, as did her own poppier numbers like “Check It Out” and “Right Thru Me”—but it looks like now it’s official: Nicki Minaj is trying to shed the “rapper” tag. Not to say that she’s given up on hip-hop entirely—we certainly haven’t forgotten about “Stupid Hoe,” nor do we plan to anytime soon—but two weeks in a row now, we’ve heard songs form Minaj that only feature the Queens native singing, not rapping, first with “Marilyn Monroe,” and now with new leak “Young Forever.” It’s a smart move for Nicki—her appeal is so wide that there’s no reason for her not to try to conquer pop as entirely as she’s already owned hip-hop.
Will it work, though? Well, “Young Forever” certainly sounds like it has the potential to be a crossover hit, and having Dr. Luke manning the decks never hurts. The song, a nostalgic tale of young love, sounds like Rihanna’s similarly summery, gaga-eyed “You Da One,” filtered thematically through Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” and “The One That Got Away.” (Yes, those are all also Dr. Luke numbers and yes they were all also hits—Lukasz didn’t get here by accident, you know.) The chorus is an undeniable winner, and it’s not hard to imagine 14-year-olds gazing into each others’ eyes at summer camp while singing “Frozen in time, always be mine, baby boy you’ll be young forever.”
It’s maybe not quite as obviously and lovably Nicki-ish as a “Super Bass” or “Roman’s Revenge,” but it’d be unfair (not to mention pointless) of us to try to deny Her Minajesty her pop takeover. At least the song is good.