Over the course of the last decade, few female artist have had their name in the conversation of almost every genre the way that Nicki Minaj has. After gaining traction during her mixtape era, thanks in part to the success of “Itty Bitty Piggy”, Minaj was referred to as the hottest female emcee on the planet. Her buzz only continued to rise with features on tracks with Gucci Mane and eventual music partner, Lil’ Wayne.

Fast forward to 2010. Fresh off being signed by Young Money, several high profile collaborations to her credit (Usher, Mariah Carey, Rihanna), and Nicki would drop “Pink Friday”. Her debut would be released on the same day as mega star Kanye West released his “Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” album. On West’s album, Nicki was featured as a guest on the track “Monster”, a record that showcased she could outshine and outrap some of rap’s heavyweights of the time in Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Rick Ross. And from there, her legacy was cemented. For the time being at least.

Since that debut, Nicki has released two other albums; Pink Friday: Reloaded and The Pinkprint. Both albums have gone on to be certified platinum in the United States. She has been featured on some of the biggest rap, R&B, and pop records over the course of the last six years. Yet still, it seems Nicki Minaj has so much to prove to fans and critics alike.

Critics often target Minaj’s music for juggling to heavily in auto-tuned mimicked R&B that falls flat instead of connecting to listeners. The hip-hop community won’t even bother to listen to her pop-inspired records, regardless of the fact that they have become her most successful on the Billboard Charts. Factor those things into mind and the emergence of two significant female rappers and you have the equation for why this is the most important album of Minaj’s career.

Dubbed “Queen”, Minaj’s new LP is due for an early June release. She has already previewed two singles, “Barbie Tingz” and “Chun Li”, which have created buzz for her cocky demeanor. Since her last album, Minaj has had several female feuds, but none as provoking as with Remy Ma. Remy and Minaj have taken jabs at each other in several diss tracks in the last fifteen months. While Remy lacks the commercial support that Nicki has, she holds a legitimate argument in terms of emcee skills that has created a public eye on the rivalry.

On the commercial stance, there is Cardi B. New York’s hottest new agent has had a year unlike any other female rapper in history. Her first six consecutive singles all entered the Billboard Hot 100’s top 20. She has been featured on crossover tracks, same as Nicki Minaj. She and Minaj were featured in the same track, one that many critics argue that the veteran may have been bested by the rookie. And then there’s the one accomplishment that Cardi has that Nicki simply doesn’t: a #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100.

This album is important for Nicki Minaj to confirm that despite her past successes, she is a force to be reckoned with for years to come. Her crown should never be questioned and this album is likely to prove that. Under pressure, Nicki has a track record of delivering.

What does she need to execute this album? One or two tracks to play into both her feature and pop-dominance would be wise for her market, however if anything, this album needs one thing it is BARS! Nicki needs to get on the mic and just spit enough fire to show everyone the reason she rose to the top to begin with. Can she do it? Of course, she can. But will she? Find out in three weeks.