Talib Kweli: Nicki Minaj is a global star because of Nicki Minaj’s ambition and hustle and drive. It cannot be questioned. Nicki Minaj has been rapping for a long time. She did the whole underground, mixtape circuit for a long time, and she figured out her lane. She created a space that didn’t exist.
I feel like Jean Grae is my favorite rapper, over just about everybody. That doesn’t take away from the fact that when it comes to those 16 bars, Nicki Minaj spazzes out. Whether people like her metaphors or faces she makes, or all that she does, she makes sure that her verse is the most interesting on everything she’s on. Now that’s just her phenomenon. Jean has had a different path. Jean and the nature of her music? There’s more depth with Jean’s music and the subject matter she deals with than on Nicki’s commercial level. And so, there’s gonna be a slow burn when you’re dealing with more depth.
Jean has never had an opportunity to release an album on a major level. It took an MC like Lil Wayne to have faith in what Nicki was doing and place her on that pedestal. I’m not as big as Lil Wayne, but I’m big enough to where I can take someone like Jean Grae, and not take away from what she’s doing, but add to it to the point where she gets a proper, proper release. I feel like when Jean does get a proper release, the world will know and there won’t be any more question.