Nicki Minaj is going through an identity crisis. And that is not just because she is portraying different personalities in her music. Minaj is labeled as hip-hop, an MC if you were. She even got the nod on MTV’s Hottest MCs list at number four. But she is also a pop artist, making songs that are both radio friendly and club ready. So where exactly would you put her?
That’s a question that is only reinforced on her newest album, Pink Friday…Roman Reloaded. This nineteen song collection almost splits right down the middle in both genres that Nicki is placed in. And depending on which side you prefer is how you will enjoy this album.
The album starts out with the song she performed at the Grammys, “Roman Holiday,” an overdramatic pop song that would make Lady Gaga embarrased. Luckily, that is the only song that has that feel to it, as the following songs dig into her as a rapper (not that she didn’t rap on “Roman Holiday,” just not as good as we know she can). “Come On A Cone” is a bruding brag rap with a swarm-sounding backbeat. The title track is another decent bragging song (“Why they never bring your name up in the Panel then/Hottest MC, Top 5”) only to be ruined by a typical Lil Wayne verse that he throws into most Young Money albums. The best track on the rapping sections has to be “Champion feat. Nas, Drake, & Young Jeezy.” Each rapper has a great platform to spit some great lines. I’m not a Drake fan, but even he does his thing on this track.
And then “Starships” comes in; a straight-up dance song that Katy Perry could’ve put out. It opens with almost “Moves Like Jagger” guitar parts, and later hits you with an incredibly infectious hook that will get people chanting on the dancefloor. And then the rest of the album kind of morphs into one giant dance track. All of the upbeat songs (including “Automatic” and “Pound the Alarm”) have remarkably similar song structures, with pounding downbeats and happy-go-lucky lyrics. There are a couple of soft songs here, like “Marilyn Monroe” and “Young Forever” that switches up her sound to a softer, pop-ballad style. Those songs are fine, but doesn’t affect myself on any sort of level.
The album ends with her first single, “Stupid Hoe,” which is probably the worst track I’ve ever heard from her. She’s put out single versus on other people’s music that beats this entire track. If “Roman Holiday” was too overdramatic, then “Stupid Hoe” is an energetic misfire that makes her already crazy voice inflections sound cartoonish and incredibly annoying. You can be the judge by listening to it below.
It is not fair to grade this album as a hip-hop album, nor can I grade it as a pop-dance album. It just so happens that it’s both, and I have to grade it as such. I preferred the hip-hop half of it, as it had some memorable verses and great production. The pop-dance half of it was fine, as it holds a spring break-summer feel to it. However, everything after “Starships” all seem to run into each other, making one very repetitive run-on dance track. Are there still good tracks here, sure. But the sugarcoating that went over the second half of the album (excluding “Stupid Hoe”) almost negates her rawness that she put into her hip-hop. Roman Reloaded isn’t bad at all, but a tad inconsistent. If she would stay on one side of the musical spectrum, maybe she could put out a truly great album later in her career. But for right now, we can sit back and watch whatever she is going to do next.
Final Grade: C+
Go Download: “Champion,” “Starships”