Album: Queen (2018)
Charted: 26 10
  • Over menacing synths and a booming drum beat, Nicki Minaj spits angry rhymes about online haters and her domination in the rap game.

    They need rappers like me!
    So they can get on their f--king keyboards and make me the bad guy

    So why did Minaj call Chun-Li the bad guy. She explained to Genius: "The point is that, even when you're fighting for a good cause, people can flip it. I think that I am the good guy, being portrayed as the bad guy."
  • The song title was inspired by the female video game character of the same name, who made her debut in Street Fighter II: The World Warrior in 1991 as the franchise's first female character. A Chinese martial artist who works as an Interpol officer, Chun Li's mission throughout the game is to avenge the death of her father. Minaj compares herself to the popular Street Fighter character by proclaiming throughout the song that she's one of the first female rappers to develop a strong and long-lasting reputation.

    Minaj had previously referenced the video game character during her verse on Willow Smith's 2011 single "Fireball," when she declares, "I'm the street fighter, call me Chun-Li."
  • "Chun-Li" was penned by Nicki Minaj with J. Reid of Chevi Muzi, who also produced her "Barbie Tingz" single. Reid's resume mainly features placements with such southern acts as Lil Boosie ("Show the World"), Lloyd ("Heavenly Body" with Rick Ross, "Holding" with Lil Wayne) and Moneybagg Yo ("Have You Eva").
  • Reid told Billboard that Minaj was on the hunt for the type of "boom-bap" flavored beats that are reminiscent of New York City hip hop. The Queen Barbz felt that would complement the initial bars she had in mind for "Chun-Li." He made around a dozen different beats and Minaj picked out one of them.

    "Nicki stormed into the booth and freestyled for 10 minutes straight," he recalled. "Then she busted [into] the control room super excited, demanding everyone's opinion. That's when I knew we had a hit."
  • Minaj chose to release "Chun-Li" as Queen's first single in order to set the tone. She explained to journalist Elliott Wilson during a #CRWN interview:

    "I don't think that in an era called 'Queen,' I need to drop my first record talking about f--king and sucking. I believe that when you can digest the entire body of work and you can hear things like, 'Ganja Burn' and 'Nip-Tuck,' then you can hear 'Barbie Dreams.' I felt it was my responsibility to not put something that was that raunchy out first."
  • This won for Best Hip-Hop Video at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards.
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