Tuesday, 10 April 2012
Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
First thing to say about Nicki Minaj’s sophomore effort: there’s no way of getting around a title that clunky and non-committal. It’s quite literally Minaj holding onto the mainstream familiarity of her debut whilst attempting to big up her Roman Zolanski persona (which is easily the most interesting aspect of her as a performer). The Roman aspects are at first pushed front and centre with an unstoppable six song barrage of whip-crack beats and vocals that swerve from prowling menace to in-your-face rage with playful ease. ‘Come On A Cone’, with its skeletal hi-hats that call to mind an undernourished version of Suicide’s Ghost Rider, is thrilling in its assertion that Minaj has the capability to throw all the personas she’s showcased across her body of work into a single track. ‘Beez In The Trap’ however is a new side of her altogether, a hypnotic beat rumbles underneath while Nicki’s flow takes on a callus tone and rolls off some classic “fuck the haters” sentiments. It’s the aural equivalent of the cop torture scene in Reservoir Dogs.
Things start to falter on the seventh track, ‘Champion’, which is weighed down by three guest verses and a dull, derivative beat. Worst of all, it relegates the woman of the hour to performing a mawkish vocal hook that provides a sum total of zero opportunities for her to wheel out one of her batshit accents. The slump continues into ‘Right By My Side’, which is straight up chart R’n’B right down to the Chris Brown cameo. Brown’s inclusion is more than a little disheartening given how at odds his appalling treatment of women is with Minaj, a woman who has smashed the gender stereotypes of hip-hop. In fact, once Brown starts his vocals the end has already begun and Roman Reloaded falls into a tailspin that it never recovers from.
From thereon in you’re faced with a seemingly infinite cavalcade of horrific euro pop beats and a damaging surplus of verses delivered by Minaj in a bland electro diva wail. The whole thing ends with ‘Stupid Hoe’, one of the finest tracks she’s produced and a timely reminder of her prowess, however, coming off the back of cheapo ravepocalypse nightmare, it stinks of an undeserved encore and (more terrifyingly) threatens to serve as a curtain call to the fun’n’freaky image she’s strived so hard to cultivate.