Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
Nicki Minaj spoke in interviews of her début album (’Pink Friday’) being too safe and "politically correct." Her self-perception flies in the face of critics and audiences who welcomed this fresh rap oddity as she blended terrifying and cute imagery in ways that left intrigued listeners wondering what was wrong with her. On tour with Britney Spears, her upstaging of the headliner became a constant point of conversation.
You won’t find that artist on "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded." Instead, there exists a Minaj-à-trois of personalities: Unhinged, sincere, and dance queen. Each comes off as equally contrived, but her unhinged segments are the most disappointing. This is where Nicki usually reigns supreme. On "Roman Reloaded," it’s by the numbers, a hollow caricaturization of herself.
On what is essentially two albums, the rap side starts off well-enough with "Roman Holiday." It’s obnoxious, but Nicki manages to sell it, as she does on "Beez in the Trap" and "HOV Lane." The affair seems to be going fine until she nosedives on "Champion" and never finds her way back. After establishing herself as a walking ID with paranoid tendencies, rapping heartfelt lyrics about personal hardships (including losing her cousin) is tacky and uncomfortable. It’s as though another MC just knocked the previous one off the album and took over. After two more embarrassing rap/urban tracks, a vocalist who sounds curiously like Jennifer Lopez knocks off the new rapper.
Lopez is enjoyable because she never pretends to be anything other than what she is. Minaj occupying that position, with doses of Rihanna-aping for good measure, feels beyond the point of selling out. Nicki sings her way into non-existence over a series of dance tracks. It’s basically a reboot of "LOVE?" by RedOne with a new vocalist, but without the good nature behind it. "Starships" is the only track by RedOne that seems to feature an authentic Nicki. The rest, despite shining productions and catchy hooks, show Minaj to be something disappointing: A producer puppet.
Those calling Nicki Minaj the rap incarnation of Lady Gaga are surely left scratching their heads after this tedious mess. ’Roman Reloaded’ has so many tracks, a good number are sure to stick as successful singles. But a club banger can only cover a lack of heart for so long. Maybe Nicki took a bit too much direction from her previous touring pal.
by Nicki Minaj