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Pink Friday by Nicki Minaj: A Review

December 1, 2010

After ruling the charts through her numerous features on what seems like every song released this year, Nicki Minaj finally dropped her debut major label album, Pink Friday, last week. To say the reaction has been mixed is an understatement. Now that the dust has settled, we can all stop the collective meltdown and actually evaluate the CD. And I’m here to tell you: It’s fantastic.

First and foremost, I’d like to point out to everyone that’s hated on her efforts: It’s a good thing she bothered putting something out for you ungrateful assholes. Lest us forget, only a few months ago, she was making “50K for a verse, no album out!” Hats off to her for putting in the effort to create a complete album and not just rely on her notoriety for success. Joking aside, I can see why some people may have been disappointed. Nicki has, in under a year, created such a strong, consistently high quality, multifaceted persona for herself that anything she put out on her own was going to be a disappointment to people. It’s the same expectation with first-time sex. After all that porn, how is it ever going to compare? What people forget is that, when featuring on a track, Nicki is given the freedom to be as crazy as she’d like – it’s a 45-second feature, tops, and then it’s over. She could pull out her tough-guy, straight out of Queens Nicki alter-ego, go with the sweet and innocent Onika, the outrageous, politically incorrect, tourrettes-inflicted Roman Zolanski, or even the highbrow, nameless British person living inside of her. Or, as evident in her Monster verse, all of them at once. With Pink Friday, there was the challenge of creating a fun but cohesive album, while still showcasing what, under all the zany voices and weird faces, Nicki actually is; a fantastic rapper.

That rapper is alive and well throughout the album. The record’s stand-out track, the so-good-it’s-tear-inducing duet with Kanye West, Blazin’, features Nicki rapping so fast that the beat drops out and allows her to spit a verse – allow me to quote her here – tighter than a dick in the butt. Her personas, contrary to popular belief, are also heavily featured on the album. Her original character, Nicki, makes even a track featuring Drake (Moment 4 Life) enjoyable – a feat only matched by Rihanna on What’s My Name? (seriously though, who keeps endorsing Drake?). Roman Zolanski, the out-of-control alter ego conceived out of rage makes appearances on both Did It On ‘Em and Roman’s Revenge, the latter which is so violent it leaves you feeling violated (…in a good way). The album seems to fall short, however, when the Onika character takes over songs – both Your Love and Dear Old Nicki are just too sweet and emotional. What Nicki does best, however, is simply focus on writing and rapping fantastic verses while allowing seasoned singers to take care of the chorus (Rihanna on Fly and Natasha Bedingfield on Last Chance).

My main gripe with the album is the track-listing. In what is probably the biggest injustice in all of musical history, four of the strongest songs were left as bonus tracks on the deluxe edition. Girls Fall Like Dominoes features a fantastic sample backing Nicki packing a million pop-culture references into less than 4 minutes. Blow Ya Mind and Super Bass are both deliciously reminiscent of Minaj’s mixtapes, while on Muny Nicki manages to do M.I.A. better than M.I.A. does M.I.A.

Overall, Nicki Minaj, in the unfortunate situation of having about a million expectations placed upon her, has produced an album that stays true to herself while giving sly nods to everything that people love about her, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Pink Friday isn’t an album of gimmicks, nor is it a people-pleasing album; it’s a record that features fantastic rapping, some of the best rap lyrics of recent memory, and top-notch tracks. It also managed to sell over 350,000 copies in it’s first week, so haters you can kill yourselves.

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