4 April, 2012@8:06 pm
In the reality era, there are a number of celebrities who are “famous for being famous.” We can now add Nicki Minaj to that list. After being parodied on SNL and performing with Madonna at the Superbowl halftime show, Minaj is hip hop’s latest larger than life personality (ironically the last one we had was Minaj detractor Lil Kim).
To say the game had high hopes for Nicki is an understatement. After showing the world that she could actually rap, anticipation ran high to see what she could do in the main stream. Alongside some of hip hop’s heavyweights, she crushed her verse on Kanye’s “Monster” and had many in the industry buzzing.
Those days are long gone. There were some tracks on her debut, Pink Friday, that made us scratch our heads and wonder how far pop she’d go. The release of Roman Reloaded answered that question. If you listen to this one expecting a hip hop album you will be sorely disappointed. If you listen to this and expect a good album, fall in line with the folks expecting hip hop album.
Roman Reloaded should’ve been titled Fuck It, because that’s the tone that permeates a great deal of the album. Half the time she sounds like she’s phoning in her raps like on the album’s opener, “Roman Holiday.” At other spots, she sounds like she’s pushing the bounds of fan tolerance as heard on “Come On You” in which she croons about putting dicks in rival’s faces. The 2 Chainz assisted “Beez in the Trap” and “Hov Lane” give us glimpses of old Nicki before descending into an alternate universe where old, rapping Nicki and Harajuku Barbie collide into a total mismatch.
For the rapping enthusiasts, there are two relative bright spots on the album. Rick Ross and Cam’ron pop up on “I Am Your Leader,” a brief return to the Nicki many rap fans fell in love with. The album’s undeniable best track is the mellow “Champion” featuring guest spots from Nas, Drake and Young Jeezy. It’s here that we’re reminded that Minaj can spit with some substance when she wants to and its preferred over the cartoon like character that dominates the opening tracks on the album.
“Dear Old Nicki” disappears permanently on the second half of the album and ironically, she sounds much more comfortable in her skin singing. A couple of radio hits are scored with the teen-friendly, Chris Brown featured “Right by my Side,” which revels in the dysfunction of young love and “Starships,” a cut that makes me want to grab a glow stick and pump my fists like this. “Marilyn Monroe” is a track that would’ve launched the career of an upstart pop singer is relegated to filler. The problem with singing Minaj is tracks like “Pound the Alarm,” Automatic” and “Beautiful Sinner” amount to little more than forgetful filler songs.
There’s a level of different is good that is, well, good for hip hop. Andre 3000 and Cee-Lo swerved left and delivered some memorable songs that will stand the test of time. Minaj went left and flew over the rail and crashed into a fiery heap.
The slivers of greatness on this album aren’t nearly enough to save it from the stench of awfulness. Let’s chop this one up to the sophomore jinx.
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