October 5, 2022
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‘Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded’: Rap princess reloads sound with wannabe pop tracks

The bright colors, eccentric wigs and the layers of spandex all seemed to decorate the path to a new, more clearly defined era for Nicki Minaj, the undisputed chart-topping champion of pop-driven hip-hop hierarchy.

Her platinum-selling album “Pink Friday” sacrificed her fast-rapping, accent-laden oddities that transformed Minaj from a hyper-sexualized gum-smacking Queens girl into a walking neon light show. She even reveled in her artistic ambiguity on “Last Chance,” a track from “Pink Friday,” as “not a word, not a line, not a girl that can ever be defined.”

Now it seems that Minaj is contradicting her roots yet again in the name of experimentation and stylistic double dipping. The result, her sophomore effort “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded,” is that of oversaturation and way too many spastic styles. Like the paint-splattered background on her colorful album cover, Minaj has constantly become a blank canvas on which genres and influences are nonsensically splattered.

She kowtows to the pop gods in the latter half of the album on songs like the “Super Bass” wannabe, “Starships.” She tries to create a hybrid of nasty bad-girl lyrics — like when she suggests thrusting a certain male body part in someone’s face in “Come on a Cone” — with club-banging dance tracks like the Red One-produced “Whip It” that go right to the throats of Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Britney Spears. Just who is Nicki Minaj trying to be, and where do her fan loyalties lie?

The answer may be that she doesn’t remain truly loyal to anyone. This half-rap, half-pop album is a confused effort where she juggles fan bases as varied as her contrived alter egos. Yet, parts of it will still get people dancing and contorting their faces in that Nicki fashion.