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Nicki Minaj’s ‘Chun-Li’ isn’t really about Chun-Li

Well, it’s about Nicki

Nicki Minaj dropped two new tracks today, including the relevant-to-this-website “Chun-Li” — the other is titled “Barbie Tingz” — which you can listen to on Spotify, YouTube, iTunes and elsewhere. In it, Minaj name-checks Street Fighter’s leading lady — alongside Lara Croft, Storm from the X-Men and a half-dozen brands — who, when she first appeared in Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior, was the sole female fighter in the game’s roster.

The Street Fighter franchise has been inextricably linked to hip-hop for decades, so while it’s a little bit surprising to see a superstar like Minaj adopt the character’s name for a track, it’s also a natural fit.

Minaj’s references to Chun-Li seem to point her as “the bad guy,” despite Chun-Li being a pretty straight-laced Interpol officer fighting actual bad guys in the name of justice and revenge. And Chun-Li never struck me as luxury label-obsessed fighter, because she’s mainly stuck to two familiar outfits during her street fighting career. Regardless, here’s the chorus to “Chun-Li,” via Genius:

Ayo, I been on, bitch, you been conned
Bentley tints on, Fendi prints on
I mean I been Storm, X-Men been formed
He keep on dialin’ Nicki like the Prince song
I been on, bitch, you been conned
Bentley tints on, Fendi prints on
Ayo, I been off, Lara been Croft
Plates say Chun-Li, drop the Benz off

And Minaj’s interlude:

They need rappers like me, they need rappers like me
So they can get on their fucking keyboards and make me the bad guy, Chun-Li

It’s not the first time Minaj has likened herself to Chun-Li. In Willow Smith’s 2011 track “Fireball,” she contributed the following verse:

OK I’m the street fighter, call me Chun-Li
And it’s goin’ down, like a bum knee
Built a guest house to put the coupe in
’cause I’m a fireball, Hadouken

Minaj also evokes Chun-Li on the track’s cover art, which features the rapper sporting the street fighter’s signature oxtail hair buns. There’s also the obvious similarity when it comes to ... powerful legs.

Capcom certainly seems to be on board with Minaj’s new single, tweeting out earlier today that on hashtag-Nicki Day, “It’s a good day to be Chun-Li.”

Now we wait for the official video.

Update (May 4): The official video for “Chun-Li” is now live on Minaj’s YouTube and Vevo channels. Like the song, the video is referential to Chun-Li, but only lightly touches on the Street Fighter character’s look and accessories.

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