Nicki Minaj has undeniably reached an important stage in her career. Fast surpassing the rap crews and names that spawned her, first giving her airspace and fame in ‘Bedrock’. She’s left the status of mere guest verse deep in the past, these days Minaj is the main attraction of the Young Money crew. Minaj has been quick to carve her own identity, releasing 3 albums in just four years. The Pinkprint is an album that makes all of this loud and clear, but does it live up to such great visions and ambitions? It’s a truly gargantuan effort, 22 tracks showcasing how Minaj may just be one of the hardest working rappers around today, there’s no room for hiatus here, Minaj means business and overall her third venture into LP territory proves this.
The Pinkprint sees Minaj demanding attention. Gone is the foolishness of the days of ‘Superbass’ and ‘Check It Out’. Throughout the album there’s signs of Minaj’s dominance and desire for power, take ‘Only’ and its hugely controversial video portraying the rapper as an all commanding dictator, or the bravado and shameless bragging of ‘Want Some More’ as she effortlessly lists off her rap credentials, dismissing anyone labeling her a one trick pony, “Who had Eminem on the first album? Who had Kanye saying ‘she a problem’? Who made Lil Wayne give ‘em five million?” With The Pink Print, it’s clear that Minaj has mastered her art, she effortlessly switches from the hard hitting rap verses of the trap tinged, uneasy sounds of ‘Shanghai’ and her Young Money filled ‘Truffle Butter’ which have won her the respect and support of the Hip Hop world, to the masterfully constructed pure pop songs of ‘Pills N Potions’ and ‘Grand Piano’ that reveal the true diversity and versatility that Minaj holds as an artist.
Collaborations are two a penny on the album, with Minaj making full use of her connections and status. Unfortunately ‘Feeling Myself’ the much hyped, Hit Boy produced, joint effort with Beyoncé is a lackluster affair, falling flat amidst repetitive hooks. ‘The Crying Game’, a collaboration with Jessie Ware, at first seems an odd match but is a surprisingly soulful track composed of simple keys, middle eastern strings and a stark contrast between Nicki’s biting flow and Ware’s rich vocals. Similarly, ‘Get On Your Knees’ sees a nice pairing between Grande’s characteristic crooning and Minaj’s cutthroat verses as she commands her man to ‘get on your knees’ and rejects stereotypical themes of romance. Even the more stereotypical Hip Hop collabaration with Meek Mill, ‘Big Daddy’ is an impressive showcase of Minaj’s work, offering somewhat of a different, rawer more intense side of her rapping that true fans haven’t seen since that infamous Monster verse. However the most interesting of the albums various and wide ranging collaborative offerings is ‘Trini Dem Girls’ an uptempo homage to Minaj’s Carribean roots featuring the mysterious producer, Lunchmoney Lewis.
With her third album, it’s clear that Nicki Minaj has achieved the perfect, near unobtainable status of rapper and pop star, it’s songs like, ‘The Night Is Still Young’ with its sing-a-long chorus and piercing, hard hitting rap verses that show how able she is to switch between the two. It’s the virality of songs such as ‘Anaconda’, it’s her talent as a rapper that garner her respect from the Hip Hop community and its her showmanship and cockiness that all cements her place amongst the modern pop royalty. The Pinkprint is in many ways a maturing process for Minaj, its her finding out where she stands as an artist, her strengths and weaknesses are clear to see. However its her wide ranging abilities and her boldness to experiment with different styles, genres and sounds that make Minaj so inherently exciting as a modern pop artist.
Words: Charlie Jaco