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Pink friday: roman reloaded
How do you solve a problem like Nicki?
Celina Murphy, 18 May 2012
Screwball rapper Nicki Minaj suffers from a very unique musical plight – the woman who the New York Times called “the most influential female rapper of all time” has to date only really produced something great when she’s appeared as a featured artist.
Guesting on tracks of varying calibre from the biggest artists on the planet (Madonna, Kanye West, Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Usher, will.i.am…), over the last two years, Minaj has been a perpetual breath of fresh air, waltzing into a track unannounced, landing us with the fiercest, most blissfully powerful bars of convention-defying rap and disappearing again in a flash, leaving us desperate for more.
After unforgettable cameos such as her brain-eating turn on Kanye’s ‘Monster’, the 29-year-old’s debut album was always going to be a disappointment. But no-one expected the frustrating levels of watered-down crowd-pleasing that Pink Friday eventually hocked up (although, naturally enough, it went on to produce eight charting singles, including the titanic ‘Superbass’ and sell over two million copies).
Minaj herself admits that the album was “very guarded”. So how has she done with the follow-up?
Rather than the record label rehash the title suggests, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded comprises 19 new songs (22 if you buy from iTunes and haven’t heard David Guetta’s Nothing But The Beat), a third of which are RedOne-produced Eurostompers that could equally have come from the glossy lips of Britney, Katy, Rihanna and so on. Remarkable, really, because if there’s one thing Minaj ain’t, it’s interchangeable.
The real value in Roman Reloaded lies in the tracks that show Nicki as the chart-topping oddball you’ll have come to know and love, if, like me, you’ve spent hours watching her on YouTube throwing out sensational one-liners, outsmarting journalists, changing persona as frequently as she changes wigs (hint: very) and generally putting every other pop star to shame.
These include the brilliantly bizarre ‘Come On A Cone’, down-and-dirty hip hop number ‘Beez In The Trap’, and the surprisingly clever ‘Stupid Hoe’. On Roman Reloaded, Minaj is regularly fabulous, dusting off her Gaga impression to sweetly warn, “I’ll put my dick in your face”, incorporating festive classic ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ into a slapstick dance jam and growling through several hyper-charged numbers as her raged-up, male alter-ego Roman Zolanski.