Nicki Minaj’s unnecessarily titled Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded Deluxe Edition is an excellent exhibit of the Cash Money star’s musical schizophrenia.
Reloaded is easily broken into two parts; the first, all hip-hop and raunchy street rhymes and the second, pop princess superstar. For personal preference, I’ll take the harder beats and barbs. Minaj has a great sense of humor and a skill for word play. She gets a lot of attention because she’s a female emcee, but I think she’s one of the best rappers out today, period. “Roman Holiday” and “I Am Your Leader” prove that she’s got the fire to slay any track.
Aside from the bangers, I hear at least five singles on the second half of the record, starting off with “Starships” which is already a smash. This auxiliary sound Minaj has created, somewhere between pop and dance club techno, has raised her ceiling and ultimately her potential as an artist. She can sing, has a touch of Gaga-craziness and shows no sign of slowing down with her perpetual studio output. So who is Nicki and who is Roman?
Minaj has crafted the “Roman” alter ego for some of her most insane tracks almost to distance herself from the rawness. She is a master of vocal tone and inflection and is probably more known for her various voices that words. (But that holding one note out for an uncomfortable amount of time trick has to stop.)
Her bipolar recording personality begs the question if she can walk the line and please both audiences. Can she remain vulgar and give the streets what they want while achieving mainstream success with more tracks like “Super Bass?” Will soccer moms let their daughters sing along to “Turn Me On” on the same album where Nicki sings about putting a dick in your face? (That would be the outstanding track “Come On A Cone”). On “Roman Reloaded” see addresses the paradox briefly and dismisses the issue in typical Minaj fashion. “I guess I went commercial/Just shot a commercial/When I flew to the set/Didn’t fly commercial/The ad is global/The Ave. is local/When we shot there was a lot different agriculture.”
Regardless of how Minaj manages her career going forward, the very near future is very bright for her. Reloaded manages to please both audiences equally. Rap fans will listen to the first half of the album and praise her flow, and pop fans will spin the second and gush over her accessibility.
Reloaded will be the record of the summer. You will hear non-stop Nicki on pop radio for the next five months. All the songs will have the same beat with bland lyrics and huge hooks. But that’s what pop music is all about nowadays.