By: Jeremy Peters
I’d be a liar if said Nicki Minaj’s newest outing wasn’t one of my most anticipated albums of 2012. Ever since promotional single “Roman in Moscow” surfaced late last year, Ms. Minaj’s rhymes (and sometimes the lack thereof) took me by surprise with its embarrassing production and cringe-worthy lyrics. Even follow up singles including the infamous “Stupid Hoe” only continued to create laughs among the masses.
If Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded could be summed up in one word, I’d call it schizophrenic. Not schizophrenic in the way Nicki wants her homosexual, male alter ego Roman Zolanski to be (don’t think too hard on it), but schizophrenic in the indecisive song structure. Split right down the middle, the first half consists of painfully executed rap with head-scratching lyrics in songs like “Beez in the Trap” (“I beez in the trap”) and “Come On a Cone” (“My ice is so cold, it should come on a cone”). Rhyme is noticeably absent from chunks of songs, especially painful in the title track, where Nicki takes it upon herself to rhyme the same word four times. The guests were apparently in on the joke, and most verses are phoned-in yawn-fests (see Lil’ Wayne on “Roman Reloaded”), with the shocking exception of Rick Ross’ stellar verse on “I Am Your Leader,” where Ross abandons his typically dull flow for something with much more flavor and style.
The second half begins with dance club-filler “Starships,” kicking off a clichéd cluster of four-on-the-floor tracks that sound like they could have easily been throwaways from Lady Gaga or Katy Perry. Not only does the jarring shift of tone give the impression that Nicki’s management needed more Top 40 hits, but it feels like the choice was mutual, shown with her previous success with songs like “Super Bass.” While her rap delivery can be indigestible, Nicki Minaj’s approach feels more experimental than what most commercial rappers are doing. By the time the abysmal slammin’ pop hits and the starry-eyed ballads finish, the atrocious hyped-up “Stupid Hoe” actually feels like a breath of fresh air.
Some albums can blow you away. Some leave you unimpressed. Some gems like this one compare unfavorably to the viscous fluid at the bottom of a garbage bag. And I still don’t know what the hell “beez in the trap” means.