Nicki Minaj, ‘Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded’ – Album Review
Since releasing her 2010 debut ‘Pink Friday,’ Nicki Minaj went from being an underground rap phenomenon to a Top 40 rap superstar. Her follow-up ‘Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded’ will undoubtedly turn her into a global pop artist if she’s not already.
The 19-track album (with three bonus songs on the deluxe version) was specifically designed to sell. How else can you explain the obnoxious succession of electro-pop dance songs on the second-half of the album, which nearly halted the collection musically?
The first-half of the LP sounds great as the 29-year-old Harajuku Barbie proudly sits on her queenly throne and spits braggadocios rhymes to her distractors. Songs like ‘I Am Your Leader’ (Featuring Rick Ross & Cam’ron), ‘Beez in the Trap’ (Featuring 2 Chainz) and ‘HOV Lane’ will connect with fans wanting to hear the fiery Nicki from her underground days.
But the album is all over the place with rap-centric tunes at the beginning, R&B-infused songs in the middle and near the end, a bevy of interchangeable songs of electro-pop dance music mostly produced by Dr. Luke and RedOne. It’s clear that Nicki is trying to appease everyone’s musical taste with this album.
There are a handful of standout tracks on the LP: The T-Minus-produced banger ‘Champion’ (Featuring Drake, Young Jeezy and Nas) is a bonafide hit that will garner instant rewinds just for Nas’ lyrics alone. ‘HOV Lane’ is a Jay-Z-inspired track with Nicki vowing to reach billionaire status. ‘Marilyn Monroe’ is a girl-power anthem as Nicki refects on the price of fame. And finally, ‘Young Forever’ and ‘Fire Burns’ are empowering odes to love lost.
‘Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded’ is not a bad album, but it’s certainly inconsistent. While the album will help established her as a worldwide pop star, it doesn’t offer any insight to who she is an artist. Hopefully, on her third album, Minaj will stay away from electro-pop tunes and show that she’s way more than just a one-note rapper. All and all, Nick Minaj’s ‘Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded’ is a glorified hip-pop album. Take it or leave it.
1. ‘Roman Holiday’
Nicki starts the album off with the song she performed at the 2012 Grammy Awards, much to chagrin of fans and critics alike. As her alter-ego Roman Zolanski, Minaj displays testosterone-fueled rhymes at her naysayers. “Anyway, stylist, go get Bvlgari / I am the ultimate Svengali / These chickens can’t even spell that / You ho’s buggin’ / Repel that,” she raps. [Watch Nicki's Grammy Performance]
2. ‘Come on a Cone’
Over stirring production, Nicki boasts how she is the best rapper in the game and vows to put her d— in the face of her competitors. “Every bitch wanna be me / You can find ‘em in Saks / ‘Pink Friday,’ two milli; ‘Super Bass,’ triple plat / When you see me on Ellen, just admit that I’m winning,” she raps.
3. ‘I Am Your Leader’ Feat. Rick Ross & Cam’ron
Now this is the Nicki everybody wants to hear more of — the gritty, street-edge rap vixen. Minaj, Rozay and Cam come through with in-your-face rhymes to haters who want to see their downfall.
4. ‘Beez in the Trap’ Feat. 2 Chainz
The hip-hop queen grabs in-demand rapper 2 Chainz for this sing-songy finger-snapping jam. This is one of the standout tracks on the LP. [Listen Here]
5. ‘HOV Lane’
Using Jay-Z’s rap legacy for inspiration, the metaphoric track has Nicki sitting in the driver’s seat of her Lamborghini and waving at the haters. “I travel more than you walking with a basketball / I’m out in Spain, running game to the Matador / I’m in my own lane, you ain’t in my categor / You like a Rav 4, I’m like the Aventador,” she raps.
6. ‘Roman Reloaded’ Feat. Lil Wayne
Another song where Nicki spit venomous rhymes at her critics. The gunfire-blasting, bee-buzzing track will definitely make fans of Minaj’s older material very happy. [Listen Here]
7. ‘Champion’ Feat. Drake, Young Jeezy & Nas
One of the biggest songs on this album. It’s an introspective anthem with Barbz, Drizzy, Jeezy and Esco drop powerful verses of overcoming their struggles to attain success. Nas’ testimonial outshines everyone on this fantastic song. [Listen Here]
9. ‘Sex in the Lounge’ Feat. Lil Wayne & Bobby V
Another smooth R&B ballad with Bobby V crooning seductive lyrics. It’s not the most romantic song in the world, but if you like raunchy sex songs, then this one is for you.
This is also where the album shifts into electro-pop dance tunes. Everyone by now is familiar with the RedOne-produced jam. The pop-y, synth-heavy jam is tailor-made for the clubs. [Listen Here]
11. ‘Pound the Alarm’
This song eerily sounds similar to ‘Starships.’ Nonetheless, a skippable track for us.
12. ‘Whip It’
No, it’s not a remake of Devo’s classic pop hit, although we wish it was. Clearly, Nicki is trying to make music for the clubs in Ibiza. Unfortunately, it sounds like all the other electro-pop dance songs out there. The formula doesn’t change: plenty of synths, a thumping beat and a nauseating nah-nah-nah-nah chorus. Instead of whip it, we skip it.
On this soundalike club banger, Nicki is bad girl in the club who can’t stop shaking her hips on the dance floor. “It’s automatic my conditions unknown / There’s no remedy and no antidote / It’s just the way that I am / Nicki Nicki so bad tonight, tonight,” she rap-sings. At this point, there is no method to all of this synth-heavy madness. We have to skip it.
14. ‘Beautiful Sinner’
Another club song, this time with Nicki singing instead of rapping, which doesn’t make the song any better. Again, it’s a skippable track for us.
15. ‘Marilyn Monroe’
Now the album shifts to pop ballads similar to her heartstrings-pulling song ‘Save Me’ from her 2010 album ‘Pink Friday.’ This is a great introspective ballad, in which she battles her personal insecurities in a relationship. [Listen Here]
16. ‘Young Forever’
Produced by Dr. Luke, the power ballad features Nicki overcoming a break-up with an ex-boyfriend whom she thought was her soulmate. [Listen Here]
17. ‘Fire Burns’
A big standout on the album where Minaj sings about kicking an unfaithful boyfriend to the curb. “I hope your fire / Fire burns baby / I hope you lay dow in your sleep / And you choke on every lie you told,” she croons.
18. ‘Gun Shot’ (Feat. Beenie Man)
Minaj taps into her Trinidadian culture and spit some Trini patois with reggae/dancehall legend Beenie Man.
19. ‘Stupid H–’
We guess Minaj saved the best for last. The Young Money starlet ends the album with ‘Stupid H–,’ her most controversial song as her alter-ego Roman. This time around, she (or he?) is firing shots at one specific hater (*cough* Lil Kim). [Watch the Music Video]