Rap is a competitive sport, and posse tracks will forever be the breeding ground of conversation. But when two alleged rivals grace the same beat, those two facts are amplified to trending-topic proportions. This week we can thank Nicki Minaj and Cardi B for filling our incessant need to keep the “Who had the better verse?” conversation going. When news of Migos’s “MotorSport” hit the Internet, social media congregated to debate which femcee went the hardest in the paint.
Some newly minted fans of the Bronx newcomer heralded her as the victor, while acknowledgment of the Queens vet had others handing her the W. From flow, to delivery, to lyrical ability, the masses dissected “MotorSport” piece-by-piece, which no doubt accomplished what the Atlanta trio set out to do: Place some buzz around their new single. If there’s anything the Internet is always willing to do, it’s debate. So Migos, you’re welcome.
After more than a few spins, we at BET Digital decided to join in on the lunchroom chatter. Here’s where we stand on Nicki Minaj, Cardi B and Migos’s “MotorSport.”
While I wasn’t very impressed by Cardi’s lyrical value on Migos’s “MotorSport,” the verse was nonetheless riddled with cheeky one-liners and a handful of punchlines. I was more so drawn in by how invigorated she sounds throughout the track as well as the tenacity in which she raps. Not to mention the “Trap Selena” moniker, which was both fitting and comical, which allowed Cardi to pay homage to a cultural icon, honor her Latina heritage, and further solidify her own lane.
Now there’s been much debate about whether or not Nicki was aware of Cardi’s verse, and based on the lyrics in question, I believe she certainly was. In comparison to her most recent features, a la “Rake It Up,” the Head Barb definitely came ten times harder on this track. Whether that was due to Cardi or in response to a lot of the flack that she’s been receiving, we’ll probably never truly know. While the opening lines have much of the same cadence as the aforementioned record, it’s during the last 15 seconds of her verse that she truly flexes her lyrical muscle. I was impressed by both the speed of her flow and the timely sports reference.
I’m going with Nicki Minaj on this one. –– Kai Miller
One of Lil’ Wayne’s most impressive guest verses is his appearance on A$AP Rocky’s “M’s,” as he becomes the master of malleability over Mike Dean’s infectious production. A decade-long student of Tha Carter himself, Nicki Minaj creates a similarly flexible flow on “MotorSport,” though not nearly as electrifying. Blessing Migos’s latest trap narcotic with a total of five different flows, the Head Barbie in Charge proves that her seniority has rendered considerable lyrical stamina. Blowing through proverbial burpees, the reigning Queen of Rap flexes, as her endurance training alongside the greats has left her with considerable muscle definition.
Cardi B’s “MotorSport” contribution is impressive in its own right and speaks to her tutelage under a legend –– that legend being Nicki Minaj. With a flow eerily similar to her predecessor’s lyrical displays on “Only” or “Chiraq,” this verse makes it clear that Cardi B has taken a line or two from the Book of Barbie, even if only subconsciously. “Ride the d**k like a BMX/ No n***a wanna be my ex” is the spitting image of an Onika Tanya Maraj entrance. “They p***y stank, they catfishin’” is a metaphoric insult of Nicki-caliber. Salvaging her individuality, Cardi does a good job of deviating from the Queens emcee’s influence by establishing her Latina roots. But who is the student and teacher remains clear as day.
In the end, Nicki Minaj’s verse was better because it was supposed to be. If it weren’t, we’d have a bigger problem. –– Iyana Robertson
For starters, “MotorSport” doesn’t fully capture the lyrical potential of either Cardi B or Nicki Minaj. I don’t believe any of Nicki’s latest few features –– Yo Gotti’s “Rake It Up,” Gucci Mane’s “Make Love,” or London On Da Track’s “No Flag” –– have done so for her, actually. But placed alongside rap’s new “it” girl, Nicki goes the extra mile to exercise her expertise.
On Migos’s “MotorSport,” Nicki tossed up five seamless flows thick with double entendres (“All of your friends’ll be dead, you can get hit with that Uzi”) and clever references (“Pull up in the space coupe, I done linked with Marty”). And no matter how many people gripe over all of her renditions of the classic “these b**ches is my sons” line, I can bet you I'll still find about four or five fire Instagram captions with them to date.
Ultimately, Nicki is far more developed and far less predictable than Cardi in her rhyme scheme and overall cadence. The verse takes you on a rhapsodic roller coaster, flipping you up into one flow, diving you down into another, spinning you for surprise comparisons, and pulling sharp, unanticipated turns through it all. Consider Cardi’s rhythm and lyrical arrangement as the kiddie ride section of the park: fun, safe, but elementary. For now, that’s OK, though; Cardi hasn’t even seen a full year in the game, so there’s plenty expansion, growth and lyrical maturation that she’s already shown staggering promise to.
Nicki’s “aha” moments are a bit delayed for listeners at times for this verse. I’m still nostalgically staring out of my window with “Dear Old Nicki” on repeat for the Mixtape Barbie that we all came to love, know, and now, miss. But for “Motor Sport,” Nicki’s bars beat out Cardi’s by far more than just a few hairs. And as a femcee fan cheering harder for their victories over other male rap counterparts than each other, I can’t wait to see what’s next for Nicki’s new era and Cardi’s evolution. –– Diamond Alexis
In a period when Nicki Minaj’s rap abilities are constantly being tested, the emcee had quite a lot to prove on “MotorSport.” Especially since Nicki was going to be featured alongside her rumored nemesis and rookie talent, Cardi B, all eyes would be on the vet to see whether she could still hold her crown. On this track — where her cosigns by Beyoncé didn’t count and her stats on the Billboard charts were irrelevant — Nicki Minaj showed that she still deserves respect as a great artist. Nicki’s flow on her verse is elite, with multiple transitions throughout. Her lyrical content, namely her play on multiple topics in pop culture (Lil Uzi Vert, I Love Lucy, and Jackie Chan), also demonstrated her maturity as a 10-year artist.
She undoubtedly had the better verse on "MotorSport." Even so, it wasn’t good enough to leave her exempt from comparison, competition, or even criticism, as she so boldly stated in her Twitter rant earlier this month. Cardi B may not have executed her verse as thoroughly as Nicki, or incorporated as many metaphors, but it was memorable. Her line about being the “Trap Selena” in particular, was a crowd-pleaser. Ultimately, fans now are looking for one moment to hold on to, as opposed to something in its entirety. — Jessica McKinney
(Photos from left: Taylor Hill/Getty Images for The Meadows Music & Arts Festival, Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for BET)