Cover for Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday Roman Reloaded
It has been a rough ride leading up to the release of Nicki Minaj‘s sophomore album Pink Friday…Roman Reloaded. First is the misleading title, which many have assumed to mean it was merely a re-release of her hit record Pink Friday with a few new songs. Secondly, the questionable Grammy performance and the buzz-singles that came out prior to the album’s release that left many even questioning Nicki’s sanity. Finally, mixed reviews of the record leave people wondering just where her head is at.
Roman Reloaded is purely a mixed-up record with two sides of Nicki showing their heads. Neatly divided into the first half, consisting of her hip-hop side, is Nicki’s alter-ego Roman Zolanski, while the second half is her newly minted electro-influenced dance/pop side starring the hit single Starships. It’s this immense divide between the two halves that work more against the album rather than in favour. There’s the aspect that Nicki is showing herself to be versatile but also the idea that Nicki is going from her acclaimed rapping style toward pop diva status that makes her blend in with so many others.
The record does start off on a strong note with Roman Holiday, a rap song placed over a catchy beat with a fun chorus. Nicki, err, Roman immediately lets loose on this track which may indicate what’s to come as she insists “take your medication Roman/Take a short vacation Roman/You’ll be okay.” Maybe she lets loose too much. Roman Holiday has aspects that are reminiscent of Missy Elliott, except where Missy’s nonsensical lyrics and phrases had a clever basis to them, Nicki’s sound improvised that act as filler rather than anything that might enter the cultural lexicon. As crazy as she might have been before, she tops herself this time. Only to do it again with Come On A Cone, which finishes with Nicki/Roman repeatedly singing “dick in your face,” as if she was preparing for a performance on American Idol. With the exception of the clichéd Sex In The Lounge, which could work as a parody of a cheesy R. Kelly single, the first half of the record makes for a solid set of songs topped off by Beez In The Trap, a simplistic laid back song that is signature Nicki in style, lyrics and presentation.
The halfway point kicks off with Starships. A turning-point in Nicki’s discography with its immediate pop basis that goes far and beyond last year’s hit Super Bass and the David Guetta collaboration Turn Me On. Produced by RedOne, it does show a natural transition from Nicki’s rap side to a smoother pop side without completely losing her origins. However, the songs afterward begin to blend together with a sound suited for Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez or Nicole Scherzinger. Whip It, in particular, is very reminiscent of songs in the style of Enrique Iglesias‘ recent output or J-Lo, specifically her recent hit Papi. Things begin to change up with Marilyn Monroe. Produced by J.R. Rotem, who also did FeFe Dobson‘s Stuttering as is evident by their nearly identical piano intros, the song would fit right in with the teen pop sound of Demi Lovato or Selena Gomez.
It’s not that the pop half of the album is terrible by any means. Most of the tracks would fit right in on the radio amongst the Rihanna’s, Flo Rida‘s and David Guetta productions. But that’s where the problem lies. To go from developing a signature style that could save even the most paltry of songs to creating those types of songs herself is disappointing. What once made Nicki stand out before will be overshadowed by the likelihood that the hits from this album will be the ones that she will be best associated with, fitting into an already over-saturated market of pop. Roman Reloaded offers up tracks that surpass anything on her debut record but is brought down by the ones that don’t. Luckily, the record is organized as such so it might be better to opt for getting half of it digitally rather than the whole CD format. That way, you won’t have to put in the effort to stop it halfway through.
1. Roman Holiday
2. Come On A Cone
3. I Am Your Leader [featuring Cam’Ron & Rick Ross]
4. Beez In The Trap [featuring 2 Chainz]
5. HOV Lane
6. Roman Reloaded [featuring Lil’Wayne]
7. Champion [featuring Nas, Drake & Young Jeezy]
8. Right By My Side [featuring Chris Brown]
9. Sex In The Lounge [featuring Lil’Wayne and Bobby V]
11. Pound The Alarm
12. Whip It
14. Beautiful Sinner
15. Marilyn Monroe
16. Young Forever
17. Fire Burns
18. Gun Shot [featuring Beenie Man]
19. Stupid Hoe
20. Turn Me On [with David Guetta]*
21. Va Va Voom*