Since the release of her debut, Pink Friday, Nicki Minaj has courted controversy more than she has music. Her shtick outweighs her artistic inclinations and her persona has grown to some peculiar heights. Going into the much-anticipated release of her sophomore effort, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, the odd train just keeps on chugging and the album does not disappoint – if you are looking for her to continue on her strange path. If you just wanted the Brooklyn-beauty to spit some dope rhymes over some great beats, you are going to be sadly disappointed.
Roman Reloaded is a tale of two genres; loading up with rap on the head end, but stringing out the mid and closing section with pop. And what a long string it is. You can get away with a lenghty album if it’s enjoyable listening. The tediousness and turmoil that come with this album make for a laborious event. There are some redeeming qualities, but Minaj and her creative team were so hell bent on ribboning the odd quotient through the release that some songs with promise were poisoned by the thematic scheme of it all.
Remove the English nanny warble and Christmas caroling from “Roman Holiday” and the spastic consonant-light shriek from “Come on a Cone”’s hook and both are serviceable songs. “I Am your Leader” could have easily been the best song on the album with a track worthy of the priciest car sound system and a Cam verse that’s worthy of rewind, but what’s with that Lost in Space-inspired hook? “Roman Reloaded” had promise as well, but it was shot down by Minaj’s lazy lyricism.
I guess I went commercial, just shot a commercial/When I flew to set though, I didn’t fly commercial
Nicki’s desire to be a singer is yet another portion of this project that deserves blame. People don’t strive to be singers. They just are. This foray into a realm she has very little talent for makes as much sense as her desire to be a man. Unfortunately for her, she has a singer’s voice just as much as she has a penis, yet both aspirations show up with humorous results.
Dick in your face. Put my dick in your faaaaaaace.
Once the album finds its stride, however abnormal, Minaj takes a hard left into the pop scene and never returns. It all goes electro-dance, drawing heavily from Gaga’s favorite producer, RedOne. Yet another odd idea this album raises is how Minaj finds her creative freedom in imitating today’s most popular top 40 singers.
While the lyrics for “Starships” are a little corny for Kesha, you can hear her brand of party girl crass in this song. Minaj’s nasal, overbearing delivery is an ill fit for “Pound the Alarm” and the island-tinged “Whip It” may have been saved by Rihanna.
“Beautiful Sinner” sounds like something Britney could have tackled and Nicki makes a go of it. The sparse thump and synthetic bass-driven track sits well under Minaj’s voice, which seems fuller than in her other pop songs. It’s the best Nicki managed in her trip to the dance floor. The rest is just more of the same, save the closer, “Stupid Hoe” which is just a stupid song and in a perfect Hip-Hop world would be considered beneath Nicki’s station in the genre.
Nicki Minaj is a talented emcee. It’s a shame her goofy guise and all of its accoutrements have swallowed her whole. The album has its moments of normalcy and even head-nodding enjoyment, but those few songs are overshadowed by the theatrics. Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded is part Bad Seed, part American Bandstand and part confusing as hell. If that pretty young woman from Brooklyn was just allowed to be herself and spit some dope rhymes over some great beats, she might be able to make a better album. With Roman Reloaded, unfortunately, Nicki’s ability isn’t strong enough to overcome her schizophrenic antics.
2.25 out of 5
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