Meaning of “Chun-Li” by Nicki Minaj
“Chun-Li” is a song by Trinidadian-born American rapper and songwriter Nicki Minaj. The lyrics of the song are purely directed at Minaj’s online haters, whom she attacks severely on the track. According to Minaj, her online haters need rappers like her so that they can rush to their “f*-king keyboards” and paint her black. Aside angrily attacking her detractors, she also proudly raps about her remarkable accomplishments in the hip hop industry.
Lyrics in Detail
Chun-Li is the original and most-popular female character from the Street Fighter series. The said software is the most-successful videogame from the 1990s. Therefore, the titular reference is one that most listeners are likely to be familiar with.
But this song really doesn’t have anything to do with said character. In the second interlude Nicki, in speaking to the efforts of haters who try to ‘make her the bad guy’, seemingly, in the process, compares herself to Chun-Li. But the thing is that the way said comparison is phrased has issues, since Chun-Li isn’t a “bag guy”. And the internet being what it is, that lyrical discrepancy, if you will, actually generated a few headlines.
Nicki, the Greatest!
Chun-Li is namedropped in the chorus, as Minaj puts forth that the name of the character graces her license plate. Now there’s one thing about this fictional female that should be noted, which is Li being an exceptional fighter and all-around tough gal. That seems to be what Nicki is really getting at by likening herself to the character, considering for instance that in the passage she also namedrops Storm of Marvel Comics’ fame in a similar fashion.
It can be said that the vocalist is referring to street fighting, in a sense. Or more specifically, a common theme in Nicki Minaj’s artistry has been the fact that, all things considered, she’s the most-influential female rapper ever. And the way she tends to recognize that reality, as she does in the first verse of this song, is by taunting her rivals, i.e. letting them know that they have been influenced by her style and as such are biters, as they would say back in the old days.
Also, part of the basis of the vocalist’s braggadocio is her riches and success. Furthermore, going back to the title of this song, Street Fighter is in fact a videogame that originated in Japan. So part of this track’s motif, particularly in the second verse, finds Minaj making Asian references or what have you.
So overall it can be said that, to some degree, Minaj isn’t a rapper who takes herself too seriously. Well, the content of songs such as Chun Li can be considered serious, especially if you’re one of the haters who appear to be the primary targets. But overall, what we’re dealing with here is braggadocio mixed with “sci-fi” references.
So it isn’t like, in trying to put forth that she’s formidable, Minaj likens herself to any real-life criminal, as some other rappers may do. Or put differently, a threatening piece that is embedded with references to videogames, as this one is, would naturally lose some of its intimidation factor.
Facts about “Chun-Li”
The song was written by Nicki Minaj and American songwriter and music producer Jeremy Reid. The pair also handled the song’s production.
The song’s title was inspired by the character Chun-Li from the legendary Japanese fighting video game Street Fighter. It is not exactly clear why Minaj chose the character’s name as the title of the track. However, it is likely she did so because to a certain degree, the character Chun-Li represents the strength and power of a female. It is worth noting that Chun-Li is the most famous female fighting game character in the gaming world.
This isn’t the first time Minaj has used the name “Chun-Li” in her lyrics. The rapper used it in her verse in the 2011 single “Fireball” by Willow Smith. In the verse, Minaj referred to herself as the “street fighter” called “Chun-Li”.
The official music video of “Chun-Li” was directed by renowned American photographer and music video director Steven Klein.
The song officially came out on April 12, 2018. It was the first of four singles from Minaj’s fourth studio album, which is titled “Queen”.
The song peaked at number 26 on the UK Singles Chart and number 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100.