Nicki Minaj is back! After crashing onto the music scene with her hit debut album Pink Friday, the female MC is making waves again with her sophomore album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. Half rap and half hip-hop/pop, Minaj’s second album is full of fan pleasing tracks that let the artist expand her horizons and branch out a bit. Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Drake, Chris Brown, Nas and more make features here as they assist the superstar with her second outing.
At times it seems like Minaj doesn’t know what type of sound she wants for herself but the album is certainly full of variety, ensuring that almost any fan of the Nicki’s will be pleased. For the first half of her album the female MC sticks mostly to rap, bringing about memories of her mixtape days. But from the second Starships comes on, it’s all pop. One thing is clear and that’s the fact that Minaj wants to please both sets of fans and with Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, I think she’s done just that.
Roman Holiday is a fantastic opener that starts out with some standout hard verses but then transitions beautifully into an addictive pop chorus. It’s an explosive track and a perfect way to open the album. After that, Nicki unleashes her alter ego and Roman goes into overdrive for seven superb rap tracks. Minaj was held down on Pink Friday and now that she can unleash Roman she goes all out.
Tracks like I Am Your Leader and Hov Lane see Nicki returning to the unapologetic rap that we first knew her for and they definitely show a progression in lyrics over what we saw on Pink Friday.
“Bitches ain’t shit, and they ain’t say nothing / 100 motherfu**ers can’t tell me nothing” spouts Nicki on Beez In The Trap, a song that will delight fans that fell in love with Minaj on Monster. Then there’s Champion, an excellent ode to the hood that has some great features on it and of course, Roman Reloaded, which may be the best rap song on the whole album. It brings on many memories of underground Nicki and it features her Young Money partner Lil Wayne, who almost steals the show from the female MC. Come On A Cone is also a great beat that has Minaj spitting some classic dirty raps.
For those who are afraid of Nicki Minaj getting lost in the pop world, rest easy. The first seven tracks are a stunning set of rap songs that are exactly what you’re looking for if you like old Nicki, mixtape Nicki or pre-famous Nicki. They are pure old school Minaj and they’re mostly in the form of her alter ego Roman.
But then Starships comes on, accompanied by Nicki and her sugar pop sound.
Minaj’s current hit single is pop in its purest form and is engineered solely for radioplay. The RedOne produced track polarizes upon first listen and it keeps you coming back for more with its infectious hooks. From this moment on it’s all pop and if you’re not a fan of that, you mise well stop the album here.
“I can’t control the way I’m moving my hips/I bet you’ve never seen them like this,” sings Nicki in Automatic, her surefire dance anthem that may have you singing similar words. Like Starships, this one is made for the radio as well as the club scene. The song will have no problem breaking onto the charts and staying there for a while. Then there’s Pound The Alarm which will have you feeling deja vu as it’s identical to Starships but like its twin counterpart, it too will become a huge hit.
Almost everything on the second half of this album turns into a rave-pop, auto-tuned filled, paint by the numbers, destined for radioplay track. Minaj is clearly chasing after Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and even Rihanna with her songs here.
The only real low points on the album come in the form of both sexy songs, Right By My Side and Sex In The Lounge ooze cheese and they really have no right being here. They slow down the pace and feel very out of place. After that though, it’s all good.
Truthfully, it’s hard to put this album in one or two categories. Minaj goes from rap to hip-hop to pop and more. There’s a bit of R&B with Sex In The Lounge as well as some pop-reggae with Gun Shot. We also get more ballad type songs with the Beyonce-ish Young Forever and the beautiful (though admittedly cheesy) track Marilyn Monroe, a personal favorite of mine. Here, Minaj goes all introspective on us, asking “If you can’t handle my worst / You ain’t gettin’ my best / Is this how Marilyn Monroe felt?”
There’s a lot of genre meshing going on here but it works well and really, the nineteen tracks are an excellent showcase of Minaj’s range. The rap stuff is stronger than what Minaj did on Pink Friday and most of the pop stuff is pretty catch too, despite being generic and a bit weak on the lyrics side.
Pink Friday did well, but it wasn’t what rap fans wanted. It was mostly a pop affair but then again, that’s what earned Nicki her world-wide fame, as made evident by pop songs like Fly and Super Bass. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why Minaj had to return to her pop roots for Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, she needs to appeal to the commercial side as well, that’s just how the business works. Luckily though, she hasn’t forgotten about her true fans and she delivers some fantastic rap tracks that more than make up for the fluffy second half of the album, which still sounds great, granted you enjoy Nicki’s pop side.
Some may hate on Nicki Minaj for giving us more sugar coated pop like she did on Pink Friday, but how can you complain when you have tracks like Roman Holiday, Roman Reloaded, Hov Lane and Beez in The Trap, among others. If you were upset about the lack of Roman on Pink Friday, you’ll be pleased with his presence here.
Love her or hate her, Nicki Minaj is etching quite a name for herself in the history books and Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded reminds us why. The incredibly talented female MC is a force to be reckoned with and her sophomore album is another excellent offering that is sure to find its way onto the charts for a long time.