Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday Review

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It’s a shame that there hasn’t been many powerful mainstream female emcees this decade. Nicki Minaj seeks to claim that spot and neatly falls in between all we’ve seen before. She has the pop sensibilities of Lil’ Kim without resorting to overly sexual content, she can have the rawness of underground femcees such as Jean Grae and Eternia and is weird as hell at times like Missy. And really, I don’t think there has been any femcee who can sing and rap as well as Nicki does in each area since Lauryn Hill.

So what went wrong with this album? It’s disjointed. Plain and simple. While Nicki’s different personalities and musical sensibilities allows many different listeners to enjoy her music, this album does not feel as organic as others in the same lane.

While some of her peers have made hip hop music while adding some pop influences to make it easier for casual listeners to digest, Nicki’s songs are mostly very clearly defined and seem too calculated. It’s almost as if she’s thinking, “Ok this one is for the hip hop heads, this one is for the ladies, this one is for the pop crowd”.

That’s not how songs and especially albums should be created. For the most part, the album leans too much towards bubble gum pop, rarely releasing the beast she has in her on guest features like Kanye’s Monster.

There are some exceptions of course. Although Moment 4 Life, Blazin and Last Chance definitely sound pop enough to be singles, they still have enough substance to make them good songs. It also sounds like Nicki has some heart on those songs and is not just going through the motions.

Dear Old Nicki, probably my favorite song on the album, also has a pop oriented beat but has Nicki bearing her heart and is one of the only times on the album that Nicki really allows herself to be Nicki. We need more of that on this album because the rest of it shows very little personality.

She does unleash her inner-Monster on here a few times though with a few very clearly defined tracks for the hardcore hip hop crowd. Here I Am is one of the better songs on the album with Nicki spitting over a vintage sounding east coast beat, something that’s rarely heard on mainstream albums nowadays.

She absolutely tears apart Roman’s Revenge, spitting one of her hardest verses on the album, doing her best Busta Rhymes dungeon dragon impersonation. She even makes a few jabs to Lil’ Kim, responding to several of her comments this year.

What the fuck I look like getting back to a has-been…You play the back, bitch, I’m in the front/ You need a job, this ain’t cutting it/ Nicki Minaj is who you ain’t f*cking with“. She continues after Eminem’s vicious verse, “Is this the thanks that I get for putting you bitches on?/ Is it my fault that all you bitches gone?/ Shoulda sent a thank-you note, you lil’ ho/ Now Imma wrap your coffin in a bow/ ‘Nicki she just mad ’cause you took the spot,’/ Word, that bitch mad cause I took the spot?/ Well, bitch if you ain’t shitting then get off the pot/ Got some n*ggas out in Brooklyn that’ll off your top

Ouch. It’s too bad that the Swizz Beatz beat they are rhyming on is not only soulless but downright annoying and repetitive. This trend follows through on the next song. Did It On Em is another one for the hip hop crowd but the annoyingly droning beat and slow tempo of Nicki’s rhymes makes this a straight snoozer.

This type of soulless production is one of the biggest detractors from the album. All the beats sound very sterile and safe, catering a bit too much to the pop crowd. None of this is more apparent than on the first two singles.

Check It Out features Will.I.Am and is so bubble gum pop that it quite literally makes me cringe. This one is clearly for the tweens and is way too happy-go-lucky, even compared to the rest of the album. Will should be ashamed of himself for making music like this when he and the rest of Black Eyed Peas were actually respectable hip hop acts at one point.

The second single, Your Love, is definitely more tolerable, although it brings home my gripe that I have for instantly recognizable samples. In this case, the song samples Annie Lennox’ 1995 smash hit No More ‘I Love You’s’, which automatically makes me think of nothing but creepy trans-gender ballerinas when hearing it. Not a good look.

While not a terrible album and is solid for the type of audience she seems to want to service, mainly the younger and pop crowd, it truly is disappointing that she plays it so safe. There is very little of Nicki’s interesting personality shown here and even less of the Monster lyricist she has inside her.

I do have to give her credit though. She is the strongest mainstream female MC in the game right now and is a positive influence to the younger girls as she consciously avoids overtly sexual topics. It doesn’t hurt that she is a good singer too. I just wish she took the Lil’ Kim route and made a hip hop album first before delving deeper into the pop world, although her current status as a star may have pushed her past that realm of possibility at this point.

While I appreciate pop music and realize it has a place in the industry, I come from a hip hop background and so I can’t help but call it as I see it. Ultimately, ‘Pink Friday’ does not live up to Nicki Minaj’s potential as a deadly femcee and instead comfortably sits her in the category of talented artists who have yet to prove it with a classic album. Hopefully this will be successful and allow her to take some more edgy risks on her sophomore album rather than retreading familiar ground.

Check out our second opinion review here

‘Pink Friday’ was released on November 22nd, 2010

Comments (20)

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  1. shawnsays:

    Is she still famous? I thought her 15 minutes of fame were over 15 minutes after she came into the game. Everything she’s ever put out has been garbage. The album gets a 0 out of 10.

    1. Vincesays:

      0/10? lol damn. Well to each his own but I feel on the strength of Dear Old Nicki, Blazin, Moment 4 Life and Here I Am alone, it gives this album a pass. Those are some good songs, like her or not. The other 1.5 comes from the fact that while it may not be my cup of tea, these are (mostly) still solid pop songs that a younger crowd will probably dig.

      1. Melhexsays:

        I am just wondering if you ever heard of Jean grae cause it is many females out there that dont get the recognition they deserve. Nicki album is complete garbage and as a male i cant relate to any song on that album. At least the females before her put out music for both genders.

      2. Vincesays:

        Yepp, I actually mentioned Jean Grae in the intro paragraph. She’s really dope. Always has been.

      3. Flawlezzsays:

        I really don’t think anyone should be comparing Nicki Garbaj to Lil Kim. She is horrible! She acts like the daughter of Max Hedroom with her retard stares and eye blinking. Her audience is a bunch of teenagers and that is sad for a 25 year old woman. My neice thinks she is dope (age 13). Her lyrics really make me want to puke into an airplane barf bag. She is just not a rapper and should not be called one. It’s like she is trying so hard to be this barbie bi&tch that she has made up she is losing sight of herself. I think if she would just lose all the fake shit and be a real person she would be alot better off. To me if a rapper has to have all that extra crap for attention they are not a good rapper. TI no big gold rope no big swinging madallion hot rapper, talib kweili the same, eminem the same, jay-z the same. Tone it down and tighten up your lyrics! This is the age of garbage music only people that are putting out good music are the veterans of the game period!

      4. Amauranosays:

        Nicki is the bomb

      5. Jdertysays:

        you need to check out reks/termanology/skyzoo/torae and sha stimuli

  2. Pumasays:

    You need to sit down with a piece of paper and write down every lyric that Nicki and Lauryn has written and educate yourself. Nicki is no where near the lyrically intellectualized beast that Lauryn was. Nicki’s lyrics comes across as kindergarten gibberish. Once that task is complete, you must then get your ears checked because if you think Nicki is a singer then you seriously have some issues. Stop sniffing that Ooh-la-la and come back to reality sweetheart. LOL.

    1. Vincesays:

      I never once said that she was as intellectual as Ms Hill. And dont get that twisted cause L-Boogie is my favorite femcee of all time and Miseducation is one of my favorite albums of all time so I hold her in high regards. I just said that Nicki can rap as well as she can sing, which no female has done equally well since the age of Lauryn. That doesn’t necessarily mean Nicki is AS GOOD in each area as Lauryn, far from it actually. It’s just that there hasn’t been anyone else that can rap as good as she can sing and vice versa SINCE Lauryn. Big difference there. You need to get off your high horse and actually read what I wrote instead of jumping to conclusions.

      1. Keiburgersays:

        Missy Elliot raps & sings pretty well, when she wants to. I don’t think Nikki is anywhere near her level lyrically or vocally. Lauryn is in a class by herself. As a side note please take a look @ some of Nikki’s old pics, very Lil Kim inspired especially the spread eagle one. Not sure if she decided she didn’t want to go that route, but she definitely tried. Not a big fan of hers but not necessarily a hater either.

  3. Misssays:

    I agree with everything u said except “I don’t think there has been any femcee who can sing and rap as well as Nicki does in each area since Lauryn Hill.” The thing about journalists who write for high profile sites like this is while u guys are always the first to know about anything in pop culture, u have no idea whats going on in the rest of the music world. I don’t mean it offensively at all. There’s an artist Nikki Lynette who I found out about through MTV, she sings, raps, produces, and writes. She’s hip hop/rap/rock, she is independent right now and I love her stuff. I’m a solid Minaj fan for 2 years now, but Nikki Lynette is a better artist. U judge:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9sDYdpCKzI
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGQc9yeB_vw
    http://www.djbooth.net/index/mixtapes/entry/nikki-lynette-roses-n-guns/

    I’m not arguing, u are entitled to your opinion and I normally never get on a writer’s case for having an opinion, but in this situation I think the Lauren Hill comparison was inaccurate, especially since Nikki Lynette is being touted on the net as the next coming of Lauren.

    1. Vincesays:

      Thanks for those. I wasn’t aware of her but she definitely is more my style than Minaj. And not to diminish your comment about journalists writing for big sites but if you check around at my other music posts, Im actually an avid hip hop head and am well aware of whats going on in the underground. Somehow I missed out on Nikki Lynette though 😉 Good lookin

  4. MaryMaryQuiteContrarysays:

    Vince, of all of the reviews of “Pink Friday” that I’ve read, I think you really gave her a fair listen. Going into “Pink Friday,” I realized two things: 1) I am not her target audience 2) I understand what she is trying to do in terms of her career.

    The songs that I really like on the album: “Roman’s Revenge,” “Did it on em,” “Moment 4 Life,” and “Blazin.” The rest, I can truly do without.

    The album is going to do well. At this point in her career, I don’t think that she is interested in joining the annals of artistic greats. She has a fan base who love her. She wants to be a pop artist. She is/will be economically on point. Great things for her and her family. However, for me, it all comes down to the music and the music, at this point, is simply average when considering the album in its entirety. I will continue to pay attention to Minaj because I sincerely believe that she is capable of producing a classic hip-hop album. But as you said: “I just wish she took the Lil’ Kim route and made a hip hop album first before delving deeper into the pop world, although her current status as a star may have pushed her past that realm of possibility at this point.” My feelings exactly.

    SIde notes: You mention that a pro of “Black Friday” is the fact that she “doesn’t resort to sexual themes like her predecessors.” With that said, how is it that Lil Kim’s “Hardcore” is hailed as a classic in most quarters, if this is supposedly a bad thing? I’m not saying that you are saying that it’s a bad thing because that is not what you stated, but it is a fact that Minaj doesn’t take this route is a “pro” for you. Does this have to do with fact that you feel it’s overdone? That many female emcees are “relegated” to the realm of the sexual? Something else? Also, I think we should be clear that Minaj is as visually “sexual” as her predecessors. I, personally, believe that the expression of sexuality can be done in great ways in pop music i.e. Madonna’s “Erotica,” Janet’s “The Velvet Rope,” and Lil Kim’s “Hardcore.” Though Lil Kim’s “Hardcore” is certainly not “pop,” it is definitely an example of female sexual expression that cannot simply be relegated to the idea that “sex sells.” “Hardcore” is way more interesting and complicated than that idea.

    Annie Lennox’s video “No More I Love You’s” is brilliant BECAUSE of the transgendered ballerinas, but they can remain”creepy” to you and great to me and things will still be a’ight.

    1. Vincesays:

      First, thank you for the comment as it seems you actually read it instead of some others just looking at the decent score I gave it or the opening paragraph and automatically think I love the album (which I dont).

      Second, regarding Hardcore, I personally don’t think it’s a classic, though it’s pretty good. And I dont think having those sexual tones is necessarily a bad thing, especially back in the 90’s when the amount of these images wasn’t as overwhelming. And even still, we had the Lauryn Hills to balance out the Lil Kims. But I think the younger girls right now desperately need more female role models that are more about substance over sexiness. And while I agree that Minaj still has a sexual image, it doesn’t come through in her music as much as Kim and them.

      Girls are getting pretty slutty at such a young age nowadays (or so it seems by the way they dress and talk) and I believe it’s the music and images they see on TV and radio that is a big contributor to this. Thus I think her avoiding those topics is a plus for the album. Sorry I’ve been up since 5am for work so Im not even sure if I explained my thoughts too well there lol

      1. MaryMaryQuiteContrarysays:

        Points well taken. Again, really good review.

  5. sherrysays:

    you r crazy gurl wit that outifit you have on

  6. sunnyasherssays:

    First, no one can or ever will be comparable to Lauryn Hill. Her voice was amazing and another voice will never grace this earth like hers. Her lyrics: unique and deep.
    Anyways. Nicki’s CD was okay. I actually liked it as someone who appreciates the depth and shallowness in many genres of music and different artists. Although, from Nicki Minaj she still could’ve done much better. I agree.. not sure if it was a comment or in the article, but she shouldn’t have gone so mainstream/pop and I believe it’s something she feels in ‘Dear Old Nicki’. She’s definitely not original, because frankly there won’t be too much more orignality seeing ho much has already been done. But, Nicki has her own personality in her music by being weird/sexy/raw.
    I’ll remain a fan, but I do hope that the next album is a little less popcentric (yeah I made up a word). Nicki is …I don’t even want to call it hiphop. That’s dead… Nicki’s “hiphop” and she should stick to it. But, as we all know. Pop sells. She needs to reflect deeper upon the words of ‘Dear Old Nicki’ though.
    One thing I did like about the album though is that there were a few songs where she seemed to have shed the make-up, barbie themed hair, and slutty clothes; and slipped into jeans and a dirty tee to be an ‘average person’ showing some real emotion. ‘Here I Am’ is my favorite song.

    “why is that you can only see the worst in me? i swear sometimes it feels like it nutures me, but to keep it all real its kinda hurtin me i could say im done with it, but lurks in me but im just gonna tell myself it works for me”

  7. Dawnbassett62says:

    OH FOR HEAVENS SAKE YOU FOLK – GET A LIFE; FOR THERE IS
    GOOD IN EVERY HUMAN-BEING. WHY DON’T YOU FOLK STOP
    MAJORING IN MINOR THINGS.

    GET A LIFE – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    YOU MIGHT JUST LIKE IT!!

  8. Priscillagoldingsays:

    …omg ilove nicki manaj you ku ass hell tehe…

  9. LyRiKsays:

    I totally agree with your interpretation of Nicki’s album. Personally, the only songs that I think that are good up there are “I’m the Best” “Blazen” and “Dear Old Nicki”. I have the deluxe album, so I am not considering tracks 12-17, which were all on the radio before the album dropped. I cannot say I was disappointed in her album, I did think that it would be better since she is claiming the best “femcee” position.

    I believe that you were too generous in the rating. I would have given her album a 5.0 in terms of classifying it as a Hip-Hop album, because certainly it is not worthy of that genre. I think that it should be remarketed as “Pop” because that is what it is. If it was marketed as “Pop” I would say it deserves the rating that you offered it.

    I also agree with the fact that the album was lifeless and mundane, and her flow was certainly monotonous. I love Eminem, he is one of my top emcees but I felt that he should have only given one verse to “Roman’s Revenge” I was sick of the song halfway through it, in fact, I was tired of listening to the album by the time I got to track five, but I was determined to listen to it to give it an authentic rating.

    Nicki’s album is geared toward “tweens,” and “popsters”, it most certainly lacks lyrical prowess, and her vocabulary is very basic. I question whether she wrote her own bars on features, because there is clear inconsistency between what she put out in the mixtape circuit, and what she produced on her album.

    At this point, I almost believe that she would be a better artist if she became a singer, versus trying to be an emcee. I do not foresee her putting out a sophomore album, because the fans that she has now will inevitably get older and smarter and her bars will be beneath them. I personally think that if she wants to succeed in such a cut throat industry, then she needs to step her game up big time, because using basic similes, and metaphors can only entertain but for so long. At the moment, she is another “ABC” rapper, and she won’t last like the others.

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