Forget Pop vs. Mixtape: Nicki Minaj recalibrates on The Pinkprint

Of all the sounds ever to appear on a Nicki Minaj track, perhaps the most idiosyncratic and endearing is one she’s adopted recently: that loopy purr. It pops up multiple times throughout her new record The Pinkprint — sometimes paired with a gasping, slightly unhinged cackle — seemingly for no reason, like a punctuation mark in an obscure foreign language. At varying points it sounds like an audible eye roll, or a kiss-off to peanut gallery criticism in its many frivolous forms — or perhaps it’s simply an offhand page break signaling a song’s transition into its next phase.

There could be a much simpler explanation, though: the sound likely has its roots in professional vocal training. Singing warm-ups sound ridiculous by nature, and…

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