Nicki Minaj - ‘Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded’ album review

Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded could have been a strong album, but it's consistently undermined by its own indulgences

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Released 2 Apr 2012 | | By Paul Leake | Rating: 3
Nicki Minaj - ‘Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded’ album review

Minaj's ‘Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded’ album is a great big hip-pop monster. At its best moments, the 'Pink Friday' follow-up solidifies Minaj’s position as a leader in the rap and hip-hop genres; at its worst moments, it sounds like 50 different artists fighting to outmatch each other.

She sets the album off in lyrically deviant style by sampling ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ on ‘Roman Holiday’, and it seems as though Minaj is setting a tantalising mission statement for the sound of the album. That originality and bravado falls away too quickly to a mishmash of conflicting styles.

If there’s one thing that ‘Roman Reloaded’ gets right, it’s the skittering, spirited tracks that fuse hip-hop, pop and rap music into a melodic holy trinity. The verses and breakdown of Red One-produced ‘Starships’ are still as anthemic months after we first heard them. ‘Come on a Cone’ is pure Minaj genius with ballsy melodic refrains like, ‘I’ll put my dick in your face.. Ooh-ooh... Dick in your face.’ And ‘Whip It’ continues her experimentation with electro and Euro-pop dance with gleeful brilliance.

Hip-hop and rap music is all about being risky, brash and willing to try something different. But at 19 tracks, it’s nine songs too long and risks stretching Minaj’s credibility like an elastic band. ‘Automatic’ could have been written for any number of bland pop performers, serving as an antithesis to Minaj’s personality. And the sniping gets old in the first bars of the maddening ‘Stupid Hoe’. The song simulates the feeling of a mental breakdown better than most songs are ever likely to.

'Roman Reloaded' shows us astounding flashes of genius when she focuses on a clear creative concept. Unfortunately, that’s overshadowed by nine extraneous and irritating filler tracks that seem to be distinctly at odds with Minaj's intent.

Best tracks: ‘Roman Holiday’, ‘Come On a Cone’, ‘StarShips’, ‘Champion’, ‘Whip It’ and ‘Pound the Alarm’.

Listen to 'Roman Reloaded' on Spotify.