Written By: Fletcher Bonin
Though you may not know it, Nicky Minaj, Dej Loaf and Lil Kim aren’t the only female rappers of note. In fact, Queen Pen has been spitting sultry beats since the late 90s. Her 1997 release My Melody features a classic 90’s sound, with minimalist beats, chiming background vocals and monotone lyrics spoken by Queen Pen herself. That being said, it’s really no surprise that the album went to #78 on the Billboard 200 list, #13 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and even #1 on the Top Heatseekers list. Furthermore, My Melody had three charting singles “Man Behind the Music”, “All My Love” and “Party Ain’t a Party”. As it happens, her melody is severe and confident. Her lyrical style is reminiscent of the great Nas with its old school feel and gritty, real life content. Her beats call up images of the likes of Biggie and Tupac with its steady throb and bounce, seemingly incongruous to her flat delivery but somehow culminating in a soothing melody. On My Melody, Queen Pen is telling a story imbued with her own truth and experiences. Fans of all the later 90s rap kings (Tupac, Biggie, Nas, Dre, Snoop Dog etc.) will enjoy the lesser-known Queen Pen.
Upon close listening, you’ll begin to understand just where Queen Pen’s name might come from. She takes care in crafting her lyrics, each one carrying a different message and delivered deliberately and intoned with personalized sentiments on each verse. Let’s take a look at those three charting singles I mentioned earlier. First up, ‘Man Behind the Music’. As with all 90s rap tunes, the beat is loose and fluid with a bouncing east coast backbeat. Slowly but effectively, Queen Pen enters decisively, each verse spoken more than rapped, giving the song an atonal, real feeling.
‘All My Love’ is equally worth a listen. This tune moves slightly faster, a more upbeat track on which Queen Pen seems to be alluding very directly to a romantic interest, not surprising given the song’s title. She seems to draw from very real and personal experiences, rapping on one verse about “the spot in the grass where you kept your stash” and later about how she “talked about sex like I was used to it” in order to get closer to the nameless subject of her affection.
Finally, perhaps her hottest track ‘Party Ain’t A Party’ is exactly as fun as it sounds. It is all about Queen Pen rolling up to a party ready to have a great time, and it’s exactly the kind of song meant for the moment after you’ve pregamed and are ready to hit the party. Millennials, get back to your roots with this late 90s stalwart Queen Pen.