Music / Reviews

Album Review: Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday


Nicki is successfully catering to a mass audience and there’s nothing wrong with that
★★★★☆


Preface: Okay, don’t judge me for the 6 month delay. I couldn’t publish it because it was being used for university work but better late than never and of course I have to share this, regardless of the time elapsed. Come on, it’s Nicki.  Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday (Album Cover)With years of mixtape glory and success under her belt, the release of her debut album was highly anticipated. While the album wasn’t released on Friday 19th as planned, Pink Friday, Nicki Minaj’s debut studio album, was worth the wait until Monday 22nd November.  One thing is for sure, Nicki Minaj’s authenticity is something that entertains the masses. Pink Friday is the kind of album that becomes your guilty pleasure or the album you unashamedly love. You find yourself yelling things like ‘man, I just sh****d on ‘em,’ in an unrecognisable voice. Lyrics that you wouldn’t dare recite loosely around your grandmother but can perform without reserve in front of your mirror.

I normally play a new album and just see how many tracks I skip. I listened to this from track one through to the end on loop. I was waiting for this album, I’m so used to the mixtape successes of Nicki Minaj, and I was excited to see what she would do when she released her album. She has become a notorious feature on the tracks of numerous artists in 2010. Pink Friday sees the role reversed with a feature from Rihanna, who seems to be an element on everyone’s albums of late. There’s also the inevitable feature from her Young Money peer Drake on Moment 4 Life and the not so expected feature of Natasha Bedingfield on the album’s ultimate track Last Chance. Hip-hop’s most forward artist Kanye West and Black Eyed Pea’s front man Will.I.Am also feature.

The five best tracks on the album are no doubt:
  1. Roman’s Revenge (featuring Eminem)
  2. Moment 4 Life (featuring Drake)
  3. Here I Am
  4. Did It On ‘Em
  5. Blazin’ (featuring Kanye West)

We’re introduced to three well-known personas of Young Money’s first lady and self-confessed “multi-personality b****”. Did It On ‘Em presents Nicki – the outrageously insane and unashamedly crude female rapper we’re familiar with. Nicki makes occasional references to her alter-ego, Roman Zolanski on Twitter and in her song features. Roman introduces herself personally on the unrelentingly, infectious track Roman’s Revenge. Eminem features and brings out his own alter-ego Slim Shady for the occasion. The two alter-egos are pitted alongside each other over a bass fuelled beat. The song ends with the introduction of a new character chastising Roman and Slim Shady. It’s Roman’s mother, Martha, and she appears to be British.

Minaj’s blasé bravado and perpetual voice inflections are dropped though when we meet the real her. Nicki strips her layers bare when we are ear to speaker with Onika Maraj. A far cry from the crazy persona displayed in her mixtapes Sucka Free and Beam Me Up Scotty. She opens up on tracks Save Me and Dear Old Nicki. On the latter, honing an almost ‘dear diary’ piano melody, she recollects the old version of herself and the promise she made to return whenever Nicki (or maybe Roman) needed her.

Nicki’s rivalry with other female rappers is well documented. Sounds like ‘Roman’ addressed the one with well established and illustrious Lil’ Kim in Roman’s Revenge. There is also the less commercial, more underground conflict between Nicki and video model turned rapper, Lola Monroe. A mixtape titled Who’s Got The Crown is a song for song bout between the two female rappers.

Before the release of Pink Friday, some of Nicki’s music was less than commercially appropriate. A cover of LL Cool J track Doin’ It Well, from her Sucka Free mixtape, is extremely explicit. She injects a crude subversiveness which she still brings to Pink Friday in lyrics like ‘if I had a d*** I would pull it out and p*** on ‘em.’ Pop ballad Fly featuring Rihanna, displays a change of style, maybe in an attempt for chart success. Check It Out is also very commercial, Cheryl Cole was even featured but there’s something about the song everyone likes.

Pink Friday peaked at number one in the US Billboard chart and number two in the UK album chart. Maybe she’s successfully catering to a mass audience and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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