Album Review: Nicki Minaj “Pink Friday”

Sally Hedberg

 

 Pink-haired powerhouse, Nicki Minaj, stormed onto the hip-hop scene in Balenciaga stilettos demanding the attention of America and she got it. Her over-the-top persona and animalistic presence provoked an obsessive fascination that had us all tirelessly chanting her explosive verse in “Monster.” Each collaboration that surfaced only whet our appetites for more, exponentially building the anticipation for her solo debut, “Pink Friday.” Well, the teasing is over and the album has dropped. Alas, ye Minajoids: It simply doesn’t live up to the hype.

Minaj stole our attention with the unbridled ferocity in her approach to spittin’ rhymes, so it comes as a surprise to hear that on “Pink Friday” the untamed animal has been shoved into a cage. Instead of embracing the dramatic stylistic powers of her voice, Minaj has taken a route of mediocrity, presenting a list of tracks that project more Mariah Carey-esque R&B than innovative hip-hop.

The album opens with “I’m the Best,” a rags-to-riches recount of Minaj’s rise to fame. While the song is catchy in its own right and she incorporates some of her characteristic vigor into the actual rapping, the subject matter is redundant and unsatisfying. There’s only so many times that you can stand to hear about the cash-blowing abilities of newly famous hip-hop stars. C’mon.

“Roman’s Revenge,” alluding to her self-professed Roman Polanski alter ego (LOL), marks one of the only tracks where Minaj delivers the savage vocal performance that we’re all lusting for. The one and only, Slim Shady, supplements with a verse providing additional attitude to the hammering, turbulent track.

The rest of the album plods along, star-studded and unremarkable as Minaj accentuates her more sensitive side, further confusing the listener and his/her preconceived expectations. We get it. Perhaps she doesn’t want to be solely defined by her “Monster” persona, but if she did such a jaw-dropping, impressive job of it, then why opt for such a premature reinvention of her own sound?

Let it be known; It’s not all bad. In Kanye West’s collaborative contribution, “Blazin,” she succeeds in balancing frenzied rhyme saying with sugary vocals. She rifles through each alter ego, providing the unpredictability that  first established her approach to hip-hop as so novel.   The single, “Your Love,” also proves to reach an addictive medium between cheeky and sweet. It’s undeniable that the sexy MC is extremely talented; It’s just more salient when she’s channeling aggression.

Unfortunately, the sparsely scattered moments of greatness just aren’t enough to hold the record together. For many, this won’t matter and it’s obvious that Minaj is destined to be a superstar. “Pink Friday,” had all of the raw ingredients to be a knockout release. However, due to a lackluster delivery by hip-hop’s buxom Barbie, we really really don’t give an F-*-*-*.

2/4 stars