Release Date: Nov 22, 2010
Record label: Universal Motown
Genre(s): Pop, Rap, R&B, Pop/Rock, Contemporary R&B, Pop-Rap
[i]“First things first, I’ll eat your brains”[/i], deadpanned [a]Nicki Minaj[/a] earlier this year on [a]Kanye West[/a]’s [b]‘Monster’[/b]. She continues with that same cannibalistic orderliness on her debut, [b]‘Pink Friday’[/b]. Within the first two minutes she’s summarised her entire life so far in a robust, reasoned account of why she’s the greatest in history, concluding, [i]“I’m the bestest”[/i].On the next track, she proves it, setting her alter-ego [b]Roman Zolanski[/b] against [a]Eminem[/a]’s [b]Slim Shady[/b].
The pink wigs, the Barbies, the eyelash bats and British accents. All of these external eccentricities have been off putting for some who feel Nicki Minaj isn’t fully a “Hip Hop” artist. Well, the truth of the matter is, she isn’t, and that’s exactly what Pink Friday reveals. Nicki Minaj sees the Hip Hop landscape and has altered it to craft her own success story, whether you like it or not… Nicki entered the scene froggy style licking lollipops and crafting mixtape tracks like “Kuchi Shop,” to which the world replied “Not again.” Watching Nicki talk shit in a stairwell though, we knew the potential was there.
Question: who is your favorite female MC? Go ahead. I’ll wait. Are you having Christmas at your parents' house this year? How’s your end-of-the-year-lists going, btw. Got an answer yet? Of course not; because your most recent choices were either in jail and Dancing with the Stars or making Barbershop 3: Barb Harder.
By the time 2010 rolled around, debuts like Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday could still fall into the “highly anticipated” category, but the reasoning was different. Two years of strong mixtapes and guest appearances meant the hip-hop faithful already knew this sometimes dirty debutante could take that gutsy Lil' Kim style to another level, and that both the single and the full-length format were at her command. The only question left is how this versatile artist would present herself to the general public, and the answer is a Gwen Stefani-meets-Baz Luhrman-meets-Young Money-type affair that both dazzles and disappoints.
Over the past few years, Nicki Minaj has been one of the most exciting new voices in hip-hop. She's delivered a stream of song-stealing or song-saving guest verses, one dynamite mixtape (Beam Me Up Scotty) and another, as good, unofficial one (Barbie World), and generally displayed a swagger, unpredictability, and ferocity not heard from a female MC in years. Little of that, however, is on her long-awaited debut album, Pink Friday.
The first question that may arise after perusing the tracklist of Nicki Minaj’s proper debut full-length, Pink Friday, is this: Where is her label boss, Lil Wayne? Lack of Weezy F Baby aside, Minaj’s release boasts flexibility. It could just as logically cascade over piles of discarded clothing on the floors of Forever 21 as it would crackle through a busted bathroom speaker at a downtown dance club. In true Young Money fashion, Pink comes generously peppered with big beats, Auto-Tune and all-star collaborations.
Rap has always unquestionably been a man’s world, one whose focus on potency, prowess, and competition often makes it the musical equivalent of pro wrestling. In this kind of climate, women wishing entrance have no choice but to pump some testosterone into their own personalities, proving they can outmatch men for whom masculinity is paramount. This has led to all sorts of hermaphroditic representations of womanhood fused with typically male aggressiveness, from the militant chic of early Queen Latifah to Lil Kim’s overdriven femme-fatale act.
There is an argument that, of late, mainstream hip-hop and R&B has lost its once zealously guarded edge of originality. The genres appear comfortable in a sonic rut – the raveish synthesisers that added an icy edge to Rihanna's Umbrella, Auto-Tuned vocals, arpeggios of 'rock' guitar – while the rest of pop music has caught up. The result is that everything on Radio 1 from Nelly to Ellie Goulding sounds roughly the same.
“I am not Jasmine, I am Aladdin” spits Nicki Minaj in the opening bars of ‘Roman’s Revenge’, a violent, aggressive and all too rare moment of truth on the Young Money rapper’s debut album Pink Friday. Having built a reputation on smash and grab cameos on tracks by hip-hop royalty like Kanye West ('Monster') and Lil’ Wayne (Sucka Free mixtape) the anticipation surrounding her debut album proper is only eclipsed by that of West’s ubiquitous My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy itself. For all of Kanye’s undeniable quality however, Dark Fantasy is overwhelmingly a man’s album, one full of bravado, paranoia and testosterone driven egotism.
In 2010, making it as a rapper is all about traversing two worlds. Post-millennial hip-hop superstars have dual obligations: They must meet fans’ expectations of fierce beats and agile lyricism, but they must also deliver stellar financial returns to the record company. In order to accomplish both seemingly disparate feats, many have simply resolved to split themselves in two.
Despite moments of genuine passion and looking inward, the entirety of Pink Friday is marred by poor production choices and most likely the highest concentration of whack couplets per song in years. The budget for this album is too high for Minaj to be allowed to get away with some of the things she does here. “I’m the Best” is fine for what it is—it’s Nicki introducing herself to all of us and giving us her story to this point.
When she’s on fire nobody in hip hop can extinguish her talents. Adam Kennedy 2010 It's been a while since hip hop, the planet's most testosterone-charged genre, had a female mouthpiece to truly mix it with the boys. Enter Nicki Minaj, five-foot-not-a-lot of Trinidadian-born, New York City-raised dynamite. Her debut album certainly explodes with requisite vitality too, even if a significant proportion of 13 potty-mouthed tracks fail to completely combust.Replete with day-glo hair and cartoonish alter egos, Minaj employs mildly terrifying upfront sexuality last seen when Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown began trading catty pot shots in the late 1990s.