On first listen, Nicki Minaj’s sophomore album, “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded,” isn’t half bad. From that first listen on, however, it becomes almost fatal to the ear.
“PF: RR,” released Monday, has all the classic signs of Minaj: loud, garish, vulgar and ultimately pointless. But Nicki throws an element into the mix that’s starting to divide her faithful fans: pop music.
The album would’ve been slightly better overall if Minaj had physically split it, with one side being pure rap (by her alter ego Roman Zolanksi) and the other side Minaj’s skewed hip-pop (by her other alter ego, Harajuku Barbie). The first nine songs on the album are heavy with featured rappers and actually carry some pretty decent songs. “Champion,” featuring Nas, Drake and Young Jeezy only succeeds because Minaj is barely audible on it.
When Minaj raps, it may not be the best, but it’s definitely a lot better than the drivel she made in the second half of the album. Her alter ego, Roman, is meant to be vile and psychotic, and with “Roman Holiday,” she puts that on display. It’s a disturbingly catchy song that can get in your head and stay lodged there for days. It is the only song where Roman is truly let loose, however, which is odd for an album named after a specific character.
As for the exceedingly pop half of “PF: RR,” it’s a complete failure as far as hip-hop/pop crossovers go. From the icky bubblegum sweetness of “Starships” to the ridiculously inaccurate portrayal of “how Marilyn Monroe feels,” on “Marilyn Monroe,” it falls flat. The only remotely decent song in the pop half of the album is “Pound The Alarm,” a song so infectious that it almost makes up for most of the atrocious album. Almost.
If you’re going to attempt a crossover, especially on an album, you need to make sure there is flow and a concept to it. Otherwise it ends up messy and inconsistent. Minaj is always harping on the fact that she wants to make music and develop and grow as an artist, but when you enlist more than a dozen people to produce, you look lost and confused. Minaj needs a wake-up call before she disappears from relevancy.