Should Have Been Bigger: Nicki Minaj’s “The Night Is Still Young”
In addition to ruling rap with an iron fist, Nicki Minaj has also been known to dabble in pop — racking up massive hits with songs like “Starships,” “Turn Me On” and “Pound The Alarm.” However, by the time Nicki got around to releasing her third album in late 2014, she had distanced herself somewhat from the genre. Instead, she returned to her gritty mixtape roots for The Pinkprint. With one exception. The prolific hitmaker snuck in a big, shiny pop moment — much to the annoyance of critics. (Not that she has ever paid them much attention).
“The Night Is Still Young” stuck out like a sore thumb on NM3, but not in a bad way. It offered respite from the hip-hop bangers and reminded us that Nicki could and should do it all. Moreover, “The Night Is Still Young” is a museum-worthy snapshot of the mid-2010s. There’s shimmery production courtesy of a pre-canceled Dr. Luke, a dubstep breakdown and even a cameo from ex-boyfriend/current-nemesis Meek Mill in the neon-hued video, which showcased the rapper’s most iconic wig and legendary facial expressions. She even gave us choreography.
“So drop the pop and get low, or we can drop the top and just cruise,” Nicki raps in a verse. “We fresh to death, down to the shoes — my only motto in life is don’t lose.” The 37-year-old then dusts off her (underrated) singing voice for the euphoric pre-chorus. “I never worry, life is a journey,” she sings. “I just wanna enjoy the ride.” That takes us to the dubstep refrain: “The night is still young and so are we.” The track was ultimately released as the sixth single from The Pinkprint and peaked at underwhelming (for her) number 31 on the Hot 100. It deserved better.
Like everything of its era, “The Night Is Still Young” sounds a little dated now. However, it remains one of the better pop/rap hybrids of 21st century and is the ultimate soundtrack to any big night. Revisit the A-grade bop below.