Despite her status as an icon of the 2010s, Nicki Minaj has had trouble channeling her talents into one cohesive album. Each effort, from Pink Friday to The Pinkprint, has felt like less than the sum of its parts. Minaj albums rarely have any disasters, but for every brilliant, incisive single, there’s a handful of tracks that feel too calculated. You come to Nicki Minaj for fury, not agreeable but forgettable pop pleasantry.

Queen, her fourth album and first in nearly four years, is arriving at the right time. Minaj is enough of a superstar to garner headlines even when she’s not putting out material, (though not always for particularly good reasons) Last year, her longstanding feud with Remy Ma reached its apex, with Ma’s release of ‘SHEther,’ a diss track with even more teeth than ‘The Story of Adidon.’ Between that, her breakup with Meek Mill, and speculation of a feud with rising superstar Cardi B, the time was absolutely ripe for Minaj to hit us with a mission statement of an album.

With a title likely intended to raise hackles of Minaj skeptics (Minajstics?), Queen seems like it should be that statement. Its bounty of moods and features make it so that any rap/pop fan should be able to get something out of it. Love Eminem? He gets an extended verse. Drawn to ballads that could just as easily fit on a Carrie Underwood album? Come see about ‘Come See About Me.’ No one could accuse Minaj of not trying, but Queen once again feels like a supposedly-take-no-prisoners rapper compromised by her obsession with appealing to as many as people at once as possible.

The rollout for Queen was so extended, that when its release date was bumped up a week, it still somehow felt like it had been out for ages. That’s good timing on Minaj’s part, as the awful single ‘Fefe’ with the awful 6ix9ine (thankfully absent from the album) seemed poised to leave a lasting bad taste (as well as more fodder for lyrical ammo from Remy Ma and others) if the album didn’t come out soon. Queen isn’t lacking for provocation, but just as soon as Minaj is heating things up, she turns off the stove.

Since the album dropped last Friday, everyone’s newsfeeds have been clogged with discussions about one song: ‘Barbie Dreams.’ An homage to rival Lil’ Kim’s classic ‘Dreams,’ (which itself came in the wake of Biggie's 'Just Playing (Dreams)') Minaj throws out a bevy of rappers and other notables. Some of these are relevant (Lil Uzi Vert), others, not so much (Ruben Studdard, anyone?). While some barbs make proper impact, like her umbrage with DJ Khaled’s lack of bedroom etiquette (“We ain't speakin'/Ain't no fat n---- tellin' me what he ain't eatin'.”) others are just worn-out jokes or nothing more than namedrops. Making cracks about Desiigner being in special ed or Young Thug wearing dresses might have gotten oohs on Twitter or Reddit 2-3 years ago. Now, they’re just stale. Minaj is throwing darts at a board and only a few are sticking. A return of her famed Roman Zolanski persona would normally be welcomed, but his appearance unfortunately comes across as a tag, long after the track has worn out its welcome.

Elsewhere, Minaj has difficulties rapping about opulence without inducing yawns. About the only thing worth mentioning about ‘Rich Sex’ is that it’s the fourth track and second to reference Biggie (and that’s including Lil Wayne’s flat feature). “Partying in Paris, these bitches is embarrassed/'Cause they know I'm the queen, I still didn't pick an heiress,” she raps on ‘Hard White,’ but it’s hard to claim royalty status with a couplet as hackneyed as that. Only Boi-1da & Illmind’s eerie trap beat adds any sort of atmosphere.

Towards the middle, Minaj lands on a streak of songs that, if not revolutionary, have some swagger and creativity, with the only spoiler being the insipid ‘Run & Hide.’ The split-screen confessional of ‘Thought I Knew You,’ with The Weeknd works much better than the dull breakup songs that clog the second half of the album, thanks to Minaj and The Weeknd’s vocal chemistry. Early single ‘Chun-Li’ gained a good deal of controversy when it dropped, but it possesses one of her all-time best hooks and beats, courtesy of herself and J. Reid (cringe-inducing gong aside). Right ahead of that, is the unexpectedly blissful ‘Chun Swae.’ Each element works so well, from Minaj’s fierce rapping to Swae Lee’s falsetto to Metro Boomin’s breathtaking beat (reminiscent of early, druggier Clams Casino), that its six-minute runtime somehow feels too short. The most minimal, pure rap song, ‘LLC,’ does more with Minaj and a stripped-back glockenspiel-led beat than most of the other, overstuffed tracks.

Not only is Minaj so much more riveting on tracks that just let her spit, she sounds so much more comfortable. ‘Coco Chanel’ gives her a chance to try and measure up to Foxy Brown, and she does an admirable job, but the shade thrown to Remy Ma loses its effectiveness when one considers how far ahead Ma is in their feud. “Had to drop Queen on 'em like a guillotine” is a good line, but this is the end of the album, and the blade has barely been sharpened.

Minaj has cultivated more than enough artistic goodwill and enough time had passed since her last album for Queen to be an event. If you were expecting something on par with her previous albums (i.e. a few standouts surrounded by filler), you won’t be disappointed. But this was her time to shine and the result is an unfocused album that gnaws when it needs to bite. One of the best moments on the album comes towards the end of ‘Chun Swae,’ when Minaj breaks into a fit of hysterical laughter. It’s refreshingly spur-of-the-moment on an album that’s let down by constant overthinking and underestimating of her abilities. If Minaj wants to make a mission statement of an album, worthy of this title, she needs to figure out a mission statement for herself.