Nicki Minaj Review: Unique Doesn’t Always Mean Good

Nicki Minaj

Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded

 nicki minaj, roman reloaded, pink friday, cover, album, art

I think most people would agree that while Pink Friday was a supreme disappointment, bordering on unmitigated disaster.  Featuring a wide array of terrible samples and unnecessary guest spots, Nicki’s debut was bland by her frenetic standards.  Not only was Pink Friday bland, it also revealed her greatest flaw as an artist: self-awareness.  I believe this flaw is why Nicki has shined more on tracks with other established artists than on tracks where she is the focal point (Kanye’s “Monster”, Lil’ Wayne’s “What’s Wrong With Them”, Young Money’s “F*** da Bullsh**”).  And in fact the one track from Pink Friday that spoke to her potential was “Roman’s Revenge”, which had the creative imprint of Eminem all over it. 

Just to be perfectly clear, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded is not some sort of remix album based on Pink Friday, but is in fact Nicki Minaj’s sophomore release.  From a marketing perspective (and any rationale person’s perspective), this is so damn stupid, and before even pressing play I could surmise that Minaj has not solved her problems with self-awareness.  Looking at the quality of some of the producers, one would have hoped for better results.  Alex da Kid (“Love the Way You Lie”), Dr. Luke (“Tik-Toc”), and Hitboy (“N***as in Paris”) put in some of the weakest work of their careers on various tracks throughout the album, but I’m not perfectly clear on whether the fault lies with bottom of the barrel work or Minaj just doing her own thing over the production. 

nicki minaj, pink hair
Does this look like a person who has any self-awareness?

Either way, there is about three feet of refuse to wade through when attempting to find the worthwhile listens on Roman Reloaded, lowlighted by several tracks angling toward Nicki’s R&B inclinations (“Beautiful Sinner”, “Marilyn Monroe”, etc.).  Yes, Nicki Minaj can sing.  She can do pretty good Rihanna and Beyonce impressions, but what differentiates her is her unhinged rapping ability.  As far as singing goes, she should sing her own hooks, and maybe mix in an R&B track or two, but focusing 1/3 or more of her album on vocal tracks is sorely misguided.

Where Nicki does make some positive decisions with Roman Reloaded is with her choice of guests.  You really can’t go wrong with Rick Ross, Cam’ron, or Lil’ Wayne.  Chris Brown is a disappointment, and yes I have gotten to the point where I have expectations for Chris Brown.  2 Chainz contributes positively to what amounts to the best track on the album, “Beez in the Trap”.  “Beez in the Trap” keeps it simple, consisting mostly of this droplet of water sound effect and a little bass, and might be confused as Diplo-produced.  What is most refreshing is the simplicity of everything involved.  Less with Nicki does sometimes actually equal more.

Surprisingly, the next best part of Roman Reloaded is the four-track stretch of “Starships”, “Pound the Alarm”, “Whip It”, and “Automatic”.  Producer of all four tracks, Red One, somehow reins Nicki in and she works very well within his club-centric beats.  If I was in a club, or seeing a DJ perform somewhere, I would not hate hearing any of these songs, and really nothing would have to be added to get the crowd to go nuts.  I could not be more shocked to see how well Nicki fit within this style, but it is just strange to see a four-track stretch of EDM amongst the rest of her schizophrenia. 

A cohesive album never will Nicki Minaj make.  I think she is just going to be one of those artists that will intermittently tantalize throughout her career, but never deliver on what is her talent hints toward.  But hey, look on the bright side, after a few more albums we can make a killer Nicki Minaj mix-tape.

4/11

Can’t Miss:  “Beez in the Trap” (ft. 2 Chainz), “Automatic”, “I am Your Leader” (ft. Cam’ron & Rick Ross”)

Can’t Hit: “Beautiful Sinner”, “Marilyn Monroe”, “Right by my Side”

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