Though her 2010 debut Pink Friday was a ham-handed combination of rap lyrics mixed with pop hooks, Nicki Minaj’s latest release, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, is a more expansive look into her scatterbrained imagination, whose presence somehow feels even more abrasive this time around.
Starting with her hectic delivery on “Roman Reloaded,” which zigzags between short-of-breath word association and aggressive, maniacal faux-Brit vocals, the track introduces Roman Zolanski, her alter ego of sorts. Fearing that her persona lacked a certain element of mystique, the Zolanskicharacter pops in and out briefly, yet the true mystery here is why Minaj would dedicate the album to such a minor and silly premise.
Minaj’s total embrace of her own wackiness means that songs similar in sound to her previous pop hits are given comparatively less attention here. The odds of radio-friendly filler tracks like “Starships” and “Automatic” achieving the same level of success as “Super Bass” and “Check it Out” are slim to none; her dance songs only go through the motions of synth-infused bubblegumpop and then dismiss themselves accordingly.
Her artistic focus rests solely on creating a hyperactive and wacky caricature of herself, and in doing so, she has essentially boxed herself within these confines. It’s a gimmick that gets old pretty fast, though perhaps in moderation it could be more tolerable.
Nicki Minaj has never cared much for profundity; nor should we expect any. If Roman Reloadedaccomplishes anything, it will let the world know that, try as she may, her music is more fun when the wackiness isn’t forced.