Once known for being one of the most promising female MCs ever to grace our industry, Nicki Minaj catapulted to superstardom in 2010 with the release of her debut album Pink Friday. Despite flirting with pop joints such as “Fly”, “Super Bass” and “Right Thru Me”, Nicki still managed to keep her core fanbase happy with Pink Friday. One of the most memorable tracks on the album was the Eminem assisted “Roman’s Revenge” in which Nicki unleashed her deranged alter-ego upon the unsuspecting public. Sure Roman Zolanski was gimmicky and unnecessary, but I must admit it was slightly entertaining hearing Nicki rap like a mentally-incapacitated lunatic. Now that she has sold well over 2 million albums and 5 million singles, Nicki pretty much has a free pass to do whatever she likes, but as Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded proves; creative freedom isn’t always a good thing.
I do empathize with Nicki as its almost impossible for her to keep all of her fans happy with one album. She now has to choose between the thousands of people who supported her during her Come Up DVD phase or the 4 million “Barbz” who bought Super Bass on iTunes. However in a misguided attempt to satisfy both audiences, Nicki decided to release a multi-genre mess of an album that only her more recent fans could appreciate. By the way the album is structured there’s no mistaking the fact that Roman Reloaded in 50% rap and 50% pop. Since you’re reading this review on The Koalition, chances are you're only interested in the rapping portion of the album so I’ll quickly gloss latter half in single paragraph.
Starships is for Katy Perry fans, Pound the Alarm is for the Taio Cruz crowd, Whip It will appeal to those who still think Pitbull is cool and Marilyn Monroe is a typical Rihanna ballad with Nicki Minaj starring as Rihanna. Other songs such as Automatic, Beautiful Sinner and Young Forever are so generic and unmemorable that they aren’t even worth writing about. The album’s closer and first single Stupid Hoe has to be one of the worst songs in recorded history and as a person of Jamaican descent, I found Gun Shot (featuring Beanie Man) almost insulting.
On a majority of the rap songs Nicki embodies her alter ego Roman and takes her gimmick to a whole new level of mediocrity. The album kicks off with Roman Holiday which is downright annoying but it does a good job mentally preparing you for next 70 minutes of torture. The following track Come On A Cone is even more infuriating thanks to an awful-awful hook that instantly makes the song unlistenable. Nicki is clearly drunk off her own success and the boastful Beez In The Trap has her bragging about it over a beat which is as lazy and uninspired as her lyrics are.
Speaking of terrible production and lyrics, the album’s title track Roman Roloaded (featuring Lil’ Wayne) is incredibly weak and contains unfathomably bad lines such as “Bite Me... Apple sign” and “The weed’s purple like a black girls p*****”.
As per ‘every-rap-album-ever’, Roman Reloaded also features a pair of Rap/R&B crossover tracks, one featuring Chris Brown and the other featuring Bobby Valentino. Neither of these songs are terrible but I doubt I’ll ever give them a second listen. On a more positive note, I wasn’t completely repelled by the album’s fourth track HOV Lane which also has Nicki bragging about how great she thinks she is. Half of her lyrics are corny, as is the chorus, but there’s no denying that Nicki know how to command a beat and make it hers.
After glossing over the album’s track list when it was first revealed a few weeks ago, there were two songs which instantly leaped out at me. Namely; I Am Your Leader (featuring Cam’ron & Rick Ross) and Champion (featuring Nas, Drake & Young Jeezy). I jokingly predicted these would be the only tracks worth listening to on the entire album and unfortunately I was right. I Am Your Leader is slightly ruined by Nicki’s presence but both Cam and Ross somewhat compensate for her lacklustre performance. Likewise, Champion could have done without Jeezy (who sounds painfully hoarse) and Nicki’s disappointing chorus attempt but other than that the song is pretty ill.
Of the 19 tracks that make up Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, Champion and I Am Your Leader are the only two which have managed to secure a place on my iPhone and even those two songs aren’t as good as many of the songs found on the original Pink Friday. We’ve known for a while that Nicki isn’t the same rapper she was back in 2005 but now she’s not even the same Nicki that she was in 2010. The purpose of this review isn’t the bash her but to help her hip-hop fans come to terms with the fact that she no longer makes music for us. She has since found a whole new legion of supporters who love her more than we ever did or ever will so it’s time for us to let her go.
Instead of being a rapper who occasionally makes pop tunes, Nicki Minaj is now a pop artist who occasionally raps. If you’re one of the 9 million people who follow her on twitter you’ll probably like the majority of this album but for lifelong hip-hop fans like myself, it’s time to move on...