Nicki Reloaded

Elijah Watson

Editor's Note: This article contains explicit content.

Did anyone think pop-rap songstress Nicki Minaj would fully turn away from her erratic persona? As soon as we all witnessed her baffling performance during this year’s Grammys, it became apparent that Minaj was back, and crazier than ever. Now, the artist returns with her latest release, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, enlisting the help of her demonic alter ego, Roman Zolanski.

Roman Zolanski, Minaj’s frighteningly comical alternate persona, first introduced himself on the 2010 hit single, “Roman’s Revenge.” Assertive and undeniably raunchy, listeners could imagine Roman booty bouncing with Big Freedia, followed by a night of cat-fight back-alley brawls with rapper Mickey Avalon as an accomplice. Although Minaj’s “gay twin brother” would remain dormant after the release of her first full-length debut, Pink Friday, Roman dominates the first half of her sophomore album.

“Come on a Cone” is erratic and filthy, but in all the right ways. “And I’m not masturbating, but I’m feeling myself,” shamelessly boasts Minaj. The rapper breaks barriers; using Roman as a filter, Minaj is able to be as impulsive and ferocious as she wants to be, competing against both male and female counterparts for the title of hip-hop royalty. Seriously, only Minaj could make something so appalling such as, “Dick in your face / Put my dick in your face,” into what will probably become one of the year’s most memorable lines, if not a trending topic on Twitter.

Roman’s unpredictable presence in the first half of the album works in Minaj’s favor; she uses her eccentricity to its fullest extent, resulting in declarations that would leave the foulest of rappers disgusted. It’s just over-the-top sexual hilarity, reminiscent of Khia’s “My Neck, My Back (Lick It),” or Missy Elliott’s “Work It.”

After the ninth song, though, the album veers off into a whole new direction. One moment you’re in hip-hop diva land; the next, it’s an electronic dance extravaganza, and after a few minutes of the latter, you will quickly want to return to the former. “Starships” is just bad; it tries hard to be this year’s “California Gurls,” but fails miserably. It feels awkward toward the end of the album; in between lackluster club-bangers like “Starships” and “Beautiful Sinner,” you have ballads such as “Marilyn Monroe” and “Young Forever,” which are so misplaced and irrelevant that they take away from the album as a whole.

“I am the female Weezy,” states Minaj at the end of “Stupid Hoe.” She has the potential to be, but fails because she sacrifices cohesiveness for creative expression. In messing with her multiple musical identities, Minaj’s sophomore album comes off as rushed and bloated, in contrast to the smooth impression of the album’s
first half.

Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded will divide fans — those who grew up with Minaj during her mixtape days, and those who prefer the bubblegum pop queen she is now. With the rise of female rappers Iggy Azalea, Azealia Banks and Kreayshawn, Minaj will have to remain tight on her rap game while also refining her pop voice if she hopes to continue dazzling with her music.