‘I always thought I could write pop songs for someone else or I could write R&B records for someone else, but I didn’t think that people would accept me writing those type of songs and me singing them and just being who I am,’ is definitely the attitude that shines through Nicki Minaj’s sophomore LP, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. I remember receiving a CD in the winter of 2010 titled Pink Friday, and slowly fell in love with what was then the ‘feature’ on the record who is now the ‘headliner’ on the world tour! Our formulated Nicki Minaj has risen quickly to her commercial success through embracing a different creative direction that her predecessors failed to do so; thus leading to their careers grinding to a halt.
That said, Nicki fused both a rap and pop record together. Roman who is a fictional alter-ego of Nicki’s hails to first of the twenty-two track album (that’s if you purchased the deluxe edition of course). The first half of this body of work is dominated by victory rap tracks back to back; it wouldn’t be a Minaj album with a guest features from the likes of Drake, Rick Ross and 2 Chainz. Unlike her first effort, Pink Friday which had a pallet of track finishes, production on the Hip-Hop side of the album is unbelievably neat. ‘Beez In The Trap’ reminiscent of Nicki’s mixtape days has definitely become one of the many standout tracks off the album. That of course being another thing we often forget to credit Nicki for, the ability to take a loop and a piece of sang rap, then deliver it is as a master piece. The narrative of ‘Roman’s Revenge’ is almost as deadly as Minaj’s star role on Kanye West’s ‘Monster’ – coupled with her mentor, Lil Wayne she tells us that she’s staying in rap! ‘Champion’ which acts as the ‘Moment 4 Life’ of the LP discusses the journey that Nicki had embarked on to success. Complimented with verses off hip-hop heavyweights Nas, Young Jeezy and Drake lifts ‘Champion’ to a more masculine realm where Nicki sits high on her throne. Comparisons aside we see Nicki Minaj has clearly grown as an artist and through that so have her fans.
Midway through the record we begin to see this transition of music that Nicki delivers. ‘Right By My Side’ which owes co-vocals to Chris Brown, hits a segment of her fan-base much like cupid’s arrow. Undoubtedly this track will become loved by those who are in love, and is expected perform on radio extremely well. It may owe several chords to Jordan Sparks and Chris Brown’s ‘No Air’; it’s nice to see Nicki let her guard down for this duet because it simply worked. ‘Starships’ needs little introduction, the first single created buzz in all the right arenas for Minaj and allowed her to continue to break records for female rap artists. As our journey continues with Roman, we enter what I call the ‘Eurovision’ part of the record. ‘Pound The Alarm’ and ‘Whip It’ (which is built on the base of Three of a Kind’s ‘Babycakes’) both belong on the dance floor and defiantly hits a new crowd for Nicki Minaj. The record takes an emotional turn with the Jojo’s ‘Disaster’-like ‘Marylyn Monroe’. The introspective ballad is one of the best story tellers of the album, and we scratch the surface of Nicki’s singing vocal ability. ‘Fire Burns’ sonically reminds me of ‘Save Me’, and it’s okay because both these expose raw emotion that Nicki can carry of a record that is trying to tell several stories at once. For ‘Fire Burns’ especially we can almost picture Nicki in the studio with this song, a boasts a vibe of freshness.
Thus far on the record, I’ve found it hard to place it into a genre. I guess, when you don’t stick to particular genre for a LP, there is little red tape on what you can or cannot do. This is part of the explanation for Nicki Minaj’s direction on this project and the album has a lot to give. Nicki shows homage to her culture with garnishing a track with Beenie Man titled ‘Gun Shots’. The title doesn’t leave much for the imagination but the contempory track is glossed with a smooth beat and sweet lyrics. ‘Stupid Hoe’ didn’t receive such a warm welcome, but then Nicki did say that Roman was one to cause trouble. The fiery track throws ample supply of shade to particular person, need I say more? I’m sure by now you’ve gathered that Nicki has distanced herself from her niche, and embarking on tracks like ‘Turn Me On’ has given her stability (ensuring that all important radio play). The female fatality rate in the industry has been at an all time high, and I believe that what she has done is presented a record that has a long life time. Durability is key today when it takes a few trending topics for the hype to be over, this highlights the fact that thus far we haven’t got bored of the record.
‘Va Va Voom’ is a typical bubblegum pop/rap track, surprisingly the song is very ‘Katy Perry’ – and it has become my favourite track off the entire record. What ‘Va Va Voom’ hints to us is the development of her live performance skill. The track clearly deserves a live band and a slightly less over-dressed performance from Minaj. The album closes with ‘Masquerade’ the Disney soundtrack-like track ends the performance of Roman and his reloaded self. Many people are quick to dismiss the record and say that Nicki is investing far too much time in experimenting with different musical identities rather than tying the bows on the one she’s been gifted in. Despite production for Roman Reloaded only began in quarter three of 2011 – I very much doubt she entered the recording studio in search for the seal of approval off music critics. Nicki Minaj hasn’t missed a single fan out on this record, and that’s why I’ve become so attached to it. It fascinates me how so many different people will be picking up Roman Reloaded, and it’s down to it is layers of narrative and experimentation that proved its worth. That said, she pushed for a lot of respect. It takes some artists years and even new record deals all together to have control on their musical direction. Roman Reloaded is a cohesion of Pink Friday – but they watered the plant and watch it grow.
Nicki Minaj could have put out another eleven track rap record which would have floated around for a few weeks or so, but she didn’t. Although at times you can feel the record feeling a little bloated it shows character to put out such a bold body of work. In essence, what Minaj has done (which many fail to do) is to extend their musical appeal, and with widening your boundaries and having a record with can go out to vast amounts of people can secure a commercial success. This has pushed Nicki into iconic status and potentially making her one of the most influential women in pop culture to date. What amazes me most with the record is that from the guy at the Barber shop, to the girl who lives next door will each take a piece of Roman Reloaded.
Asian Woman Magazine recommends: ’Champion’ featuring Drake, Nas & Young Jeezy / ’Right By My Side’ featuring Chris Brown / ’Marilyn Monroe’ / ’Va Va Voom’
@MoQazalbash - I believe that this is the first time in Asian Woman Magazine’s history that we’ve ever awarded an album five stars. I couldn’t think of a more deserving person or album to give it to!
www.asianwomanmag.com about us: The first issue of Asian Woman & Bride Magazine, released in 2000, caused something of a revolution in Asian media. The first title of its kind, the magazine gained an instant following, prompting the creation of two separate titles: Asian Woman magazine and Asian Bride magazine as they are known today. With a unique mix of high-quality editorial, cutting-edge fashion, beauty and entertainment presented in a vibrant glossy format, the titles garnered an international readership that continues to grow ten years on.
Since its creation, flagship title Asian Woman has featured an elite selection of celebrities on its coveted cover including Aishwarya Rai, Frieda Pinto, Alesha Dixon and Jay Sean, building a solid reputation for quality and exclusivity.
In 2010, Asian Woman and its stable of sister titles – Asian Bride, Asian Groom & Man, Asian Fashion, and Asian Home & Style – were bought by Jayson Emerald Media Corporation Ltd. Today the publishing empire is owned by Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief J Wimal who, together with her highly-skilled and deeply passionate team, has brought the brand into the mainstream consciousness, attracting a wide range of luxury brands while expanding the readership beyond its core Asian audience.
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