Nicki Minaj has been the “it” girl of rap for about a year now, surprisingly by releasing so little of her own music. She’s had memorable guest spots all over the place, even appearing with the boys of The Lonely Island for the far too catchy “The Creep,” and she’s become something of a household name.
It’s really strange that she decided to shoot herself in the leg with her sophomore album “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded.”
Where Minaj has made a point of being the loudest, filthiest and fastest lady MC in the room, here, it feels like she’s sleep walking through track after track of dance-pop that feels like it would be more at home on a Katy Perry album or a Britney Spears record circa “Toxic.” Songs such as “I am Your Leader” and the now ubiquitous “Starships” lack all of the energy that made Minaj into the sought after talent she is today.
It’s a shame then that Minaj seems to so clearly be trying to steal what makes the other great female MCs do what they do best. She shamelessly robs M.I.A.’s worldly political consciousness on tracks such as “Come on a Cone” and “Roman Reloaded,” while lacking the afro-beat fusion and rough, assaulting delivery that makes M.I.A. so memorable.
While Minaj’s performance on the album barely registers, her guests all deliver. Cash Money Records performers Lil Wayne and Drake both deliver some memorable rhymes and rap legend Nas shows up on “Champion” to give everything he can to what amounts to little more than a back beat.
That being said, the beats are the most fun thing to listen to here. I bobbed my head through the back half of the record, despite insipid rhymes and dull performances from almost everyone. Minaj knows what it takes to get her songs played in the clubs and you have to be thankful of that if you’re going to sit through this whole record.
That being said, Minaj does deliver a few memorable rhymes, despite all of her blunders on the album. She tears through “HOV Lane,” giving the sort of raw, manic performance that put her on the map.
On “Right By My Side,” she gives the inevitable break-up song a couple of great biting lines full of remorse, saying “I only argue with him/ when the Lakers on/ other than that/ I’m getting my Marc Jacobs on.” It’s a line that pops and like the rest of the song, it has that unspeakable energy that made Minaj pop to critics and fans alike.
Ultimately, “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded” is almost an astounding failure but that almost doesn’t matter. Minaj and Cash Money know that the purpose of this record was to get enough singles on the radio, in the clubs and on your iPod that it didn’t really matter whether the album is memorable or not. As far as it’s worth, fans might as well cherry pick the songs they like and let the rest of this record stay on the shelf.