When you’ve sold 1.7 million copies of your debut album, Pink Friday, in the US alone, and you’ve got granddaddy of music charts Billboard naming you 2011 Rising Star, you can bet on stratospherically high expectations for your follow up album.

When asked by a fan on twitter to say what Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded is about in 1 word, Nicki Minaj’s choice was “Freedom”. Seems she’s squandered that newfound liberty to take her sing-song Harajuku Barbie self, and her hardcore rapper alter ego Roman Zolanski, on a joy ride to nowhere. That’s another way of saying that with a near 50-50 split between Rap and Pop tracks, her new Billboard 200 chart-topping album lacks any discernible musical direction.

Pink Friday cover art

Photo courtesy of Universal Music Group.
The album opens on a slightly disturbing note with “Roman Holiday”which we experienced at the 2012 Grammy Awards. The track sets an unpredictable tone for the entire album, with Zolanski (or perhaps his mother) rapping in a fake British accent, “Take your medication, Roman, Take a short vacation, Roman, You’ll be okay.” Note the awful lot of British drawl on the whiney “okay”. In what must horrify Christians, as much as her Chinese tattoo which says “God is with you”, Minaj later appears as a gospel singer with, “Come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant, I am Roman Zolanski.” With seemingly no intended message throughout the song and illogical lyrics like “This is World War 6,” this track almost makes Mother Monster Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” sound normal!

Minaj’s disturbing exorcism-based performance at the Grammy’s with someone acting as a ‘startled’ priest.

Photos courtesy of Buzznet.com
The next couple of Rap tracks, “Come On A Cone” and “I Am Your Leader” are hard and powerful, much like “Roman’s Revenge” and “Did It On’em” from her first album, with strong beats accompanied by mellow undertones, and verses that leave ample room for other rappers to make their mark in sync with Zolanski’s own tempo. Not that Zolanski needs any help, he may not really exist, but his talent with rapping is unquestionable. Still, it was exciting to discover that among the other rappers featured in her album was long-lost Cam’Ron, who was featured together with Rick Ross in “I Am Your Leader”.

Coming as a surprise was “Champion”, the first track in which Minaj actually began to sing, excluding her earlier blasphemous drawing of believers to Zolanski. With somber, heartfelt lyrics that carried heavy reference to Minaj’s personal history, and that always seemed to end with a punch line of curt sounding statements (“So how you deal with the fame? Stay high”), this solid track is about the rise to fame and greatness while dealing with overproduction and dramatization, with hip-hop big shots Nas­, Drake and Young Jeezy rapping on the same baseline.

Perhaps to transition between Zolanski’s fierce hardcore verses and Harajuku Minaj’s sweeter vocals, the 12 tracks like “Right By My Side” and “Whip It” following “Champion” had a much lighter, upbeat tone with dance hit buildups following nearly throughout. Of course, there’re only so many ways to be original with a dance number – and sadly Harajuku Minaj didn’t quite come through in this album. UrbanWire thinks that the generic songs Minaj comes up with definitely have ample room for improvement.

It seemed that in the bottom heavy pop half of the album, Minaj was intent on rivaling against pop sensations like Rihanna and Beyoncé with the versatility in her tracks. Had these been any more original, it would actually have been commendable.

“Right By My Side” and “Marilyn Monroe” were almost carbon copies of Rihanna’s “What’s My Name” and “Rehab” respectively, right up to the Barbadian singer’s slightly annoying signature drawl and vocal hooks. “Fire Burns” could have been a cruder Beyoncé remake; except Beyoncé won’t “pray you burn in hell”, not publicly anyway. While it lacks originality, the song dramatically emphasizes Minaj’s own powerful range of vocals as she soars over the high notes and bellows the low ones. The most disappointing tracks probably would be “Sex In The Lounge” and “Automatic”, numbers so generic that it’s almost impossible to put a face to the vocals.

Still, there are tunes in her album that will keep your feet tapping involuntarily, no matter what anyone says! “Starships”, the album’s official lead single, stands proud at number seven on Billboard Charts Hot 100, and is bound to leave you bouncing to the beat even with the ridiculous line “Higher than a motherf*cker!” Another hit on this album is “Turn Me On”, all kudos being due to disc jockey David Guetta!

Minaj closes the standard edition of her album much the way she begins, with “Stupid Hoe”. Doing what she does best, Minaj hurls insults at an unknown woman that must have somehow provoked her enough for her to chant it all right through the chorus.

Minaj’s best songs on this album give plenty of room for the enraged and aggressive Zolanski in her to come out, which isn’t a bad thing, because what emanates from the darker hip-hop Zolanski is far more overwhelming than her pop self. The only catch is it’s hard to tell when Minaj is singing as Zolanski or herself, with many blurry lines between tracks that are confusing to the ear. That won’t stop it from staying a chart topper, though. As of now, it stands at number 3 on Billboard’s top 200 albums. Let’s hope by the next album, she’ll be all done with freedom and would have decided on where she wants to take us.


Album Details:

  • Artiste: Nicki Minaj
  • Album Name: Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
  • Rating (out of 5): 3/5
  • Language: English
  • Genre: Rap
  • Record Label: Universal Music Group
  • Release Date: Apr 3



1.     Roman Holiday
2.     Come On A Cone
3.     I Am Your Leader feat. Cam’Ron & Rick Ross
4.     Beez In The Trap feat. 2 Chainz
5.     HOV Lane
6.     Roman Reloaded feat. Lil Wayne
7.     Champion feat. Nas, Drake & Young Jeezy
8.     Right By My Side feat. Chris Brown
9.     Sex In The Lounge feat. Lil Wayne & Bobby V
10.  Starships
11.  Pound The Alarm
12.  Whip It
13.  Automatic
14.  Beautiful Sinner
15.  Marilyn Monroe
16.  Young Forever
17.  Fire Burns
18.  Gun Shot feat. Beenie Man
19.  Stupid Hoe
20.  Turn Me On (Bonus Track)
21.  Va Va Voom (Bonus Track)
22.  Masquerade (Bonus Track)