The acclaimed new queen bee of hip hop, Trinidad’s finest Nicki Minaj has established a motto for herself, and in the process, used it to not only counter-balance her taste, but to also inflate and polish her bravado. She isn’t a rap mercenary, but more of a pop radical which evidently shows on Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, her less pretentious follow-up to her bombastic debut. Whereas two years ago Ms. Hyde comatosed Dr. Jekyll with Minaj’s intimidation barking at full volume, the album fiddles with the radio dial. Her rhymes still crash into eccentricity (“Roman Holiday”), tap into new fame (“Come On A Cone”) and the appeal of impromptu public sex (“Sex In The Lounge”), but the Side B part to the disc shelves demeanor for a present day dance pop feel that could get marked as a new Now That’s What I Call Music! comp and no one would notice. On Roman Reloaded, Minaj is blatantly automatic with her tongue and her credibility can throw jabs with a heavy guest list, but her personal experiment is hard to translate. One minute clean beats resurrects rap careers (“I Am Your Leader”) while another drizzles a slow-backed West Coast vibe (“Champion”) and then without hesitation, her own version of retro heart-burning dance anthems – a la Katy Perry and Rihanna – intervene, questioning if a material girl (“Marilyn Monroe, “Automatic) and street cred can co-exist. “Starships” transcends, but it should have been a closer, not a bubblegum-tipped shift in tempo.
Download: “Roman Reloaded (ft. Lil Wayne)”, “I Am Your Leader (ft. Rick Ross, Cam’ron)”
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