A Definitive Ranking of Nicki Minaj Guest Verses

With the release of "Bang Bang" comes the chance to answer an important cultural question: Which Nicki Minaj guest verse is best?

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The reigning queen of the guest rap, Nicki Minaj, added another verse to her canon this week with the release of "Bang Bang." It's a strong set of rhymes with a great flow, but how does it compare to her best work?

Actually, let's take that one step further: What is the best Nicki Minaj guest verse of all time?

The Wire decided to answer this question through an exhaustive listening session of 57* of her guest verses. We judged only her segments – bad songs didn't adversely affect good verses. Which cuts stand out as the best of the best? Does anything compare to "Monster"? These are the questions we sought to answer.

*Criteria for selection: Must be a song on which Nicki rapped a verse, not just to sing the hook. Must have been released as a single or charted independently. Young Money tracks where Nicki rapped a single verse were also considered.

The Also-Rans

57. “Get Low 4 Me (Remix),” Lalo the Don & Barbee

56. “Girl on Fire (Inferno Version),” Alicia Keys

55. “Tapout,” Lil Wayne, Birdman, Mack Maine & Future

54. “Who Runs This?” Angel Demar

53. “You the Boss,” Rick Ross

52. “Feel Inside,” Mary J. Blige

51. “Freaks,” French Montana

50. “Tonight I’m Getting Over You (Remix),” Carly Rae Jepsen

49. “Sex in Crazy Places,” Gucci Mane, Bobby V & Trina

48. “She Came to Give It to You,” Usher

47. “Lollipop Luxury,” Jeffree Star

46. “Knockout,” Lil Wayne

45. “Roger That,” Young Money

44. “Haterade,” Gucci Mane & Pharrell

43. “Take It to the Head,” DJ Khaled, Chris Brown, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne

42. “#Twerkit,” Busta Rhymes

41. “Letting Go (Dutty Love),” Sean Kingston

40. “Bought the Bar,” DJ Webstar

39. “2012 (It Ain’t the End),” Jay Sean

38. “Somebody Else,” Mario

37. “Shakin’ It 4 Daddy,” Robin Thicke

36. “Beauty and a Beat,” Justin Bieber

35. “Up All Night,” Drake

34. “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” Madonna & M.I.A.

33. “Y.U. Mad,” Birdman & Lil Wayne

32. “Muthaf**ka Up,” Tyga

31. “I Wanna be With You,” DJ Khaled, Future & Rick Ross

30. “Born Stunna (Remix),” Birdman, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne

29. “Fireball,” Willow Smith

28. “Make Me Proud,” Drake

27. “Love More,” Chris Brown

26. “Clappers,” Wale & Juicy J

25. “BedRock,” Lloyd & Young Money

24. “Touchin’, Lovin’” Trey Songz

23. “Get Like Me,” Nelly & Pharrell

22. “Get It All,” Sean Garrett

21. “Up Out My Face,” Mariah Carey

The Top 20

20. “Lil Freak,” Usher
How much credit can you give a verse for one reference to a decade-old sitcom that you probably never even watched? Nicki ends her verse with an Everybody Loves Raymond tribute to Usher's surname. Up to the point, it's something of a lackadaisical delivery, but Nicki's always got something at the ready. –JR

19. “5 Star (Remix)," Yo Gotti, Gucci Mane & Trina
It takes a while to get to Nicki's verse in this one – get ready to hear the phrase "five-star bitch" until it ceases to sound like words. But then she opens with "I just had a epiphany / I need to go to Tiffany's," as only she can, and all that time spent waiting is forgotten. –KO

18. “Woohoo," Christina Aguilera
I'd like to see Christina and Nicki team up more often. I feel like they could influence each other in some fun ways. Right here, Christina's subdued onamatopoetics are enhanced by Nicki flipping into weird island mode. A Jimmy Iovine reference isn't exactly the wittiest, but it'll do. –JR

17. “The Creep," The Lonely Island
When Andy Samberg and his merry band enlisted Nicki's help with a song called "The Creep," you have to imagine their wildest dream had to be pretty damn close to what they got. Her charmingly manic laugh sounds like it's straight out of "Roman's Revenge." It may be a parody, but this verse is pure, real Nicki. –KO

16. "I Ain't Thru," Keyshia Cole
"I Ain't Thru" is an oddly paced song, but Nicki just chooses not to bother and does her own thing. It really gets going in the second half of the verse, when she unleashes the line "She a motherf*cking duck, duck, GOOSE," emphasis perfectly dropped at the end. –KO

15. "Hello Good Morning (Remix)," Diddy Dirty Money & Rick Ross
One of Nicki's best tricks is to let her sanity slip mid-line – as she does here on "shibby shibby yeah shibby yeah ah you." What could that possibly mean? No idea! It's spectacular. –KO

14. “Get Low," Waka Flocka Flame & Tyga
This might not be music's greatest accomplishment in the field of getting low, but it's worth it to hear Nicki at her sleaziest. Lotta "uhhhhhhh" on this one, and that's not even getting into ho riots and "boobs up and my ass out." –JR

13. "Lay It Down," Lil Wayne & Corey Gunz
Nicki starts her verse in perfect time and rhythm with the beat, and it's melodic and danceable. Then she steps out of it into a slightly more aggressive flow. Then, with a proud "I don't give a f*ck," she blasts right out of it to wrap up the song. It's a crazed delight. –KO

12. “My Chick Bad," Ludacris
Does Nicki go to the horror movie-reference well a lot? Sure. Absolutely she does. But this verse is so much fun. And she's not just resting on Jason and Freddy either. This verse is your one-stop shop for lyrics about testes and Lisa Leslie. –JR

11. “Raining Men," Rihanna
In the reigning bad-bitches team-up of this young millennium (shout out to last millennium's champs Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony), Nicki switches up tempos, throws in some stutter (an inadvertently prescient tribute to summer TV sensation d-d-d-dome-dome-dome), and then tops it off with the crown jewel: "So tell Harpo to hit me, Celie."    –JR

10. “Senile," Young Money, Tyga & Lil Wayne
I'm so into how eerie this all sounds. Nicki throws out all the manic tools in her repertoire and instead just gets all kind of up in your biz, challenging everyone from basic bitches to the recipients of her own hip-hop legacy.  –JR

9. "I Luv Dem Strippers," 2 Chainz
Good Nicki verses go from zero to 100 in an instant. The best Nicki verses go from 100 to zero. Her temptuous slowdown is impressive, but starting right out of the gate with "2 Chainz, you f*cking crazy / Motherf*ckers know I'm f*cking crazy" is just the best. –KO

8. "Where Them Girls At," David Guetta & Flo Rida
Look, I understand how divisive Pop Nicki is (and let's not even get into Flo Rida) (we're all cool on Guetta, though, right? How could you hate that face??). But all things considered, this verse is a blast. It's the Song of the Summer of rap verses in that it only cares about the immediate pleasure of the widest possible audience. What other verse is going to reach the Judd Apatow crowd and adult-contemporary fans with fond Peabo Bryson memories? –JR

7. "Till the World Ends (Femme Fatale Remix)," Britney Spears & Ke$ha
"Hmm. It's pretty good, but this Britney Spears song would be a lot better with way more Nicki Minaj and Ke$ha and way less Britney Spears." I hear you, Imaginary Music Industry Executives. Nicki's the only show in town for the first minute or so, and it is nice. "Sniff. Sniff. Criiiiiiiiiies / I done slayed your whole entire fuckin' liiiiife." –JR

6. "Bang Bang," Jessie J & Ariana Grande
Even "Bang Bang" haters (yes, such people are out there) must admit that Nicki is in fine form here. She spits the word "moscato" like it's great poetry, and she's totally game to play with the girls. You can tell she's having a goddamn blast. –KO

Best of the Best

5. "I'm Out," Ciara
This song is all kinds of hot – we as a culture haven't done right by Ciara, because she's great here. But Nicki came up with the line "F*ck you and your lady / Gun butt you, cause you shady," and that is a remarkable feat all on its own. –KO

4. "Out of My Mind," B.o.B
"What's your name? B.o.B? / So they callin' you BOB?" That line alone would be enough to grant this verse a top five finish. But throw in the most unexpected and fantastic "Airplanes" reference in ("We can pretend that airplanes in the night sky / Are like shooting stars? / Well, you gon' really need a wish right now"), and you've got a Nicki classic. –KO

3. "Bottoms Up," Trey Songs
The first two and a half minutes of "Bottoms Up" are spent waiting for Nicki's verse to kick in. The next minute of "Bottoms Up" is spent trying to keep up when rapping along. And it must be said: this is easily the best allusion to Anna Nicole Smith in anything. –KO

2. "Monster," Kanye West, Jay Z, Rick Ross & Bon Iver
So, okay, show up four minutes into a song and blow Kanye West and Jay-Z completely off the floor. That'll work. This verse not only made Nicki, as we presently understand her, but it also holds up impeccably. It's still the most thrilling minute and a half of anything you could possibly listen to, throwing in the best that Nicki has to offer, from pop references to weird character stuff to tempo shifts and a ramp-up to her blow-off that best resembles a jet engine moments before take-off. A roundup of the best lyrics would end being an exercise in transcription, but "first things's first / I'll eat your brains" is extraordinary. –JR

1. "Dance A$$ (Remix)," Big Sean
Hear us out! "Monster" is killer and probably the right choice when judged from a historical perspective. But from the very first wobbledy-wobble-wa, Nicki delivers a masterpiece of cheerful vulgarity. There are Nicki verses where she's so much better than the song she's in and she knows it, and that's the case here. She wraps up her ass-bragging about halfway through and just decides to throw in some Michael Kors rhymes and Lil' Kim shade for the hell of it. And finally, just for fun, she walks things right back up to Big Sean, content that she's just kicked this whole song in the ass-ass-ass-ass-ass-ass-ass. –JR

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.